NY Daily News on Barzun's passing

Historians in the News

Jacques Barzun, who at once celebrated and castigated Western civilization in his many works, has passed away at 104. Though long a New Yorker, Barzun had been living in San Antonio, where he died on Thursday night.

Barzun is best known for 2000's "From Dawn to Decadence," in which he argued that Western culture had fallen from the heights of the Renaissance, having shattered in the dank gulches of the 20th century. An intellectual of distinctly European vintage, he was a prolific writer and public figure with appeal beyond the groves of academe. A cover story on Barzun in a 1956 issue of Time said he was part of "a growing host of men of ideas who not only have the respect of the nation, but who return the compliment."

Born in Paris in 1907, where his father ran a prominent literary salon attended by the likes of Ezra Pound, Barzun arrived in the United States at the age of 12 to attend prep school. He went on to Columbia, where he would graduate at the top of his class in 1927. Five years later, he also obtained a doctorate from Columbia – and would go on to serve the Ivy League university in either a professorial or administrative capacity until 1975....

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Jacques Barzun, 1907-2012

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