Jakob Burckhardt

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Burckhardt, Jakob


Born May 25, 1818, in Basel; died there Aug. 8, 1897. Swiss cultural historian and philosopher.

Burckhardt studied at the University of Berlin under L. Ranke and was a university professor in Basel from 1858 to 1893. Burckhardt was the initiator of a school in historiography that, in contrast to the Ranke school, brought to the foreground not political history but the history of spiritual culture. (Sometimes Burckhardt’s school is called the cultural-historical school.) As a cultural historian, Burckhardt dealt with problems of ancient Greece, the Renaissance, and the baroque. His principal work, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860; in Russian translation, vols. 1-2, 1904-06), provides a number of vivid pictures of the cultural life of the Renaissance, organized around the constant idea of Renaissance individualism, in which Burckhardt uncovers the sources of the new European bourgeois world perception. By the end of his life Burckhardt was arriving at increasingly pessimistic conclusions regarding the prospects for the existence of liberal societal forms and a free spiritual personality in the late bourgeois epoch; Burckhardt’s criticism of culture is one of the links between Romanticism and the predictions of a new barbarism by Nietzsche (on whom the late Burckhardt had an influence) and Spengler.


Gramsci, A. Izbr. proizv., vol. 3. Moscow, 1959. Pages 271-74, 291.
Kaegi, W. Jacob Burckhardt, vols. 1-2. Basel [1947-50].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Michael Howard's paraphrasing of Jakob Burckhardt, cited by Fitzgerald, is therefore apt: "the true use of history, whether military or civil, is ...
No man of the 19th century breathed the spirit of Old Europe as deeply as the Swiss historian Jakob Burckhardt. He invented the Renaissance--in the sense that his 1860 book, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, gave the period its name and general definition.
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473), "There will be played in Germany a drama compared to which the French Revolution will be only an innocent idyll." It remained for the historian Jakob Burckhardt to give form and substance eleven years later to Heine's prediction.
[4] Kristeller's knowledge of the texts of the Italian Renaissance was extraordinary; but so too was that of Jakob Burckhardt, Georg Voigt, Remigio Sabbadini, Vittorio Rossi, Giuseppe Saitta, and Eugenio Garin, to mention only some of the major commentators on Renaissance humanism predating or contemporary to Kristeller in the mid-1940s.
Given this central contention, it is unsurprising that the first chapter of the book is given over to the problem of periodization, in the form of a critical examination of the characterization of 'the Renaissance' as the cradle of secular modernity by the nineteenth - century Swiss scholar Jakob Burckhardt in his seminal Die Kultur der Renaissance in ltalien of 1860.
One could easily name great conservatives for example, Otto von Bismarck or Jakob Burckhardt in the German speaking world of the nineteenth century - to whom such a view of reality was not at all unfamiliar.
And, perhaps because the writer does not consider the importance of the culturally specific situation of any speaker or representer -- including herself -- the opinions of diverse authorities from different times and places are quoted, helter skelter -- Michael Jaffe, the Goncourts, Jakob Burckhardt -- without mentioning the dates at which they were writing.
Patrizia Lombardo is worthwhile on history and the film (Martin Guerre), and Lionel Gossman is excellent on Jakob Burckhardt, the historian with whom Schorske surely has the closest spiritual affinity.
These terms are broad and hard to define to accommodate not only the classical approaches of Jakob Burckhardt and Aby Warburg, but also more recent methodologies by Norbert Elias, Reinhart Koselleck, Philippe Aries, Jean Delumeau, Raymond Williams, Merry Hanks Wiesner, Miriam Chrisman, Elizabeth Eisenstein, and others.