Tenses of the Present

Critical Horizons 23 (2):203-210 (2022)
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ABSTRACT David Roberts’ History of the Present asks what comes after the grand narratives of European modernity. Progress is over, but without a past and with no assured future, the present remains in conceptual limbo. For Roberts, we are entering a new stage of a global cultural modernity marked by the end of European modernism. Taking a fresh look at the contested endings of the modern, Roberts suggests that an extended concept of contemporaneity might replace the problematic dualism of past and present, modernity and post-modernity at the end of the twentieth century. This review article discusses Roberts’ argument with reference to the work of Budapest School members, Ágnes Heller and György Markus, with reference more broadly to seminal theorists such as Georg Lukács, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Alain Touraine and Guy Debord, and to writers including Marcel Proust, Heinrich Mann, Aldous Huxley and Michel Houellebecq, in relation to the questions of cultural modernity.



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Peter Morgan
Birkbeck College

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