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Houdini, Tarzan, and the perfect man : the white male body and the challenge of modernity in America

Author: John F Kasson
Publisher: New York : Hill and Wang, 2001.
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : 1st edView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
"In his new book, John F. Kasson examines the signs of crisis in American life a century ago, signs that new forces of modernity were affecting men's sense of who and what they really were." "When the Prussian-born Eugen Sandow, an international vaudeville star and bodybuilder, toured the United States in the 1890s, Florenz Ziegfeld cannily presented him as the "perfect man," representing both an ancient ideal of  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: History
Named Person: Eugen Sandow; Harry Houdini; Tarzan, (Fictitious character); Edgar Rice Burroughs; Harry Houdini; Eugen Sandow; Tarzan, (Fictitious character); Harry Houdini; Tarzan.
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: John F Kasson
ISBN: 0809088622 9780809088621
OCLC Number: 45438299
Description: viii, 256 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: Who is the perfect man? : Eugen Sandow and a new standard for America --
The manly art of escape : the metamorphoses of Ehrich Weiss --
"Still a wild beast at heart" : Edgar Rice Burroughs and the dream of Tarzan.
Responsibility: John F. Kasson.

Abstract:

"In his new book, John F. Kasson examines the signs of crisis in American life a century ago, signs that new forces of modernity were affecting men's sense of who and what they really were." "When the Prussian-born Eugen Sandow, an international vaudeville star and bodybuilder, toured the United States in the 1890s, Florenz Ziegfeld cannily presented him as the "perfect man," representing both an ancient ideal of manhood and a modern commodity extolling self-development and self-fulfillment. With Harry Houdini, the dream of escape was literally embodied in spectacular performances in which he triumphed over every kind of threat to masculine integrity - bondage, imprisonment, insanity, and death. Then, when Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan swung from tree to tree and into the public eye in 1912, the fantasy of a perfect white Anglo-Saxon male was taken further, escaping the confines of civilization but reasserting its values, beating his chest and bellowing his triumph to the world. Kasson's liberally illustrated and persuasively argued study analyzes the themes linking these figures and places them in their rich historical and cultural context. Concern with the white male body - with exhibiting it and with the perils to it - suffused American culture in the years before World War I, he suggests, and continues with us today."--Jacket.

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