It would be difficult to underestimate the significance of European philosophy for literary and intellectual circles at the beginning of the twentieth century. Many of the magazines and journals of the time carried articles discussing the importance of the ideas of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, or of the contemporary Frenchman Henri Bergson, alongside the latest episode from a novel we would now consider ‘modernist’, or the latest poems from H.D. or other Imagists. The English-speaking world was, it would be possible to say, transfixed by the challenge which continental philosophy, or historiography, often mounted to traditional and received ideas. These European thinkers were readily available by the 1910s in translation for those who had not already read their work in the original languages; they were often, as Nietzsche and Bergson were, available in popular form through cheap editions of their aphoristic sayings or most telling passages.
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