Arpad Szakolczai is Professor of Sociology at University College Cork, Ireland. He is the author of Max Weber and Michel Foucault: Parallel Life-Works, Reflexive Historical Sociology, The Genesis of Modernity, Sociology, Religion and Grace: A Quest for the Renaissance, and Comedy and the Public Sphere: The Re-birth of Theatre as Comedy and the Genealogy of the Modern Public Arena, and co-author of The Dissolution of Communist Power: The Case of Hungary.
'In an age that despite glib talk of 'interdisciplinarity', is increasingly dominated by the careerist compartimentalization of the human sciences, reading Szakolczai's book is like opening a study window in a gale. The carefully filed and indexed notes of works of scholarship and fiction swirl around dramatically, and when reassembled have created illuminating juxtapositions that offer a persuasive new narrative of modernity. The link it audaciously explores between the permanent liminality of modernity and the theatrical displays of sacrificial violence that characterize modern history stems itself from the fecund liminal sphere between scholarship and fiction, empiricism and vision. The interpretive force this remarkable book unleashes may belong more to the world of the novel or the cinema than the conference hall, which will surely destine it to be condemned as much as it is praised. Yet for this reader it revealed the cursed lineage between the spectacular executions of the French Revolution and of contemporary IS, and should be read by all those trying to make sense of the horrors of the modern world beyond the cliches of journalists and politicians.' - Roger Griffin, Professor in Modern History, Oxford Brookes University, UK 'Arpad Szakolczai has been a pioneer in introducing and applying the notion of liminality, of sacrifice, and the carnivalesque into social theory, as well as using literary sources as evidence. By these notions he has come to an original analysis of the essentially theatrical character of modernity, and therefore of the liminality, of the state between the real and the theatrical, as a permanent condition. This is a tour de force in the integration of literary analysis and social theory.' - Stephen Turner, Distinguished University Professor, University of South Florida, USA 'a brilliant summation of an astonishingly ambitious intellectual project that attempts nothing less than a fundamental reassessment of the nature of modernity itself.'- Peter McMylor, British Journal of Sociology