Translated by John Lees. Introduced by Lord Redesdale. The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, first published in German as “Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts” in 1899, is an intellectual tour de force which juxtaposes European Christian civilization—under the leadership of the Teutonic, or Germanic peoples, against the Semitic world.
Volume I starts by sketching the origin of present-day European civilization in the ancient systems developed by classical Greece and Rome. It then moves on to an in-depth discussion of the figure of Jesus Christ and his message, which the author differentiates from the history of the Christian Church.
Although widely regarded as purely anti-Semitic, the book actually posits the Teutons against the entire Semitic world—Jewish and non-Jewish (Muslim) alike—and adopts a stridently pro-Christian stance, endeavouring at length to show that Jesus Christ was not Jewish in spirit or origin.
It then moves on to discuss the effect of Jews on Western civilization from the time of the decline of the Roman Empire to the nineteenth century, and finally the effect of the Teutonic peoples during the same time period, positing all of history as a struggle between these two groups.
Along the way, it discusses race, using an early cranial classification to differentiate between races, and remarking as follows on racial differences:
“Certain anthropologists would fain teach us that all races are equally gifted; we point to history and answer: that is a lie! The races of mankind are markedly different in the nature and also in the extent of their gifts, and the Germanic races belong to the most highly gifted group, the group usually termed Aryan. Is this human family united and uniform by bonds of blood? Do these stems really all spring from the same root? I do not know and I do not much care; no affinity binds more closely than elective affinity, and in this sense the Indo-European Aryans certainly form a family.”—from Chapter 6.
The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century was a best-seller which went into eight editions and sold more than a quarter of a million copies by 1938.
This new edition is not a facsimile but has been fully reset and contains the complete original text.
“A monument of erudition.”—The Spectator.
“Glowing with life, packed with fresh and vigorous thought.”—The Birmingham Post.
“It is difficult to over-estimate the stimulating qualities of this book.”—The Glasgow Herald.
“This is one of the books that really matter.”—The Times Literary Supplement.
“A historical masterpiece. Those who fail to read it, will be unable to talk intelligently about contemporary sociological and political problems.”—George Bernard Shaw, writing in the Fabian News.
About the author: English-born Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855–1927) became an ardent pro-German by his twenty-fifth year and moved permanently to Germany in 1876. There he acquired a BSc in natural science and spent the rest of his life writing works promoting the greater German cause, including writing anti-English wartime propaganda during the First World War. He was also an early supporter of Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP and was the first celebrity to publicly endorse that party at the time of the 1923 Putsch.
First Part: The Origins
Division I: The Legacy of the Ancient World
Introductory: Historical Principles
First Chapter: Hellenic Art and Philosophy
Second Chapter: Roman Law
Third Chapter: The Revelation of Christ
Division Ii: The Heirs
Fourth Chapter: The Chaos
Fifth Chapter: The Entrance of the Jews into the History of the West
Sixth Chapter: The Entrance of the Germanic People into the History of the World