The theme of this book is the conflict that arose in the early nineteenth century between the literary and scientific intellectuals of Europe, as they competed for recognition as the chief analysts of the new industrial society in which they lived. Sociology was conceived as the third major discipline, a hybrid of the scientific and literary traditions. The author chronicles the rise of the new discipline by discussing the lives and works of the most prominent thinkers of the time, in England, France, and Germany. The book presents a penetrating study of idealists grappling with reality when industrial society was in its infancy. Published with the support of the Exxon Education Foundation.
"Lepenies offers us an historical record. He does not evaluate the contributions of literature and sociology, or of literary sociology, to public exegesis. The book is a spectacular record of the internecine strife among exegetes. The author's international erudition is remarkable, control of materials masterly, his method careful and thorough, and his writing dramatic." Samuel Z. Klausner, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences "This is an immensely learned and fascinating essay in intellectual history. Originally published in German in 1985, it has now been made available in a remarkably fluent translation." Fritz Ringer, Journal of Modern History