Viennese Faults by Peter J. Leithart

Viennese Faults

Sacred Spring: God and the Birth of Modernism in Fin de Siècle Vienna
by Robert Weldon Whalen
Eerdmans, 2007
(339 pages, $25.00, hardcover)

reviewed by Peter J. Leithart

Part travelogue, part intellectual history, part art and music criticism, Sacred Spring argues that Viennese modernism, the source of so much of the intellectual history of the contemporary West, cannot be understood as a secular movement. Its writers and artists were not materialists, nor did they think the world consists only of what can be known by the senses.

On the contrary, early modernism makes sense only when we acknowledge its religious inspiration and aspirations. Most of the fi . . .