Modernity is the ensemble of changes - intellectual, political, economic, social, cultural, technological, aesthetic - that have altered the world drastically since roughly the 17th century, until which time the world was, in the above respects, far less different from the world of any previous epoch of recorded history than it is from the world of today. The modern predicament is the set of problems these changes have bequeathed us.
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What is enthralling and illuminating about The Metaphysical Club is its portraits of individuals and their milieus. Menand is wonderfully deft at evoking a climate of ideas or a cultural sensibility, embodying it in a character, and moving his characters into and out of one another's lives. What might have been a jumble of intellectual movements and colorful minor figures (...) is instead a subtle weave of entertaining narrative and astute interpretation.
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