Peter Gay (born Peter Joachim Fröhlich; June 20, 1923 – May 12, 2015) was a German-American historian, educator and author. He was Sterling Professor of History at Yale University and former director of the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers (1997–2003). Gay received the American Historical Association's (AHA) Award for Scholarly Distinction in 2004. He authored over 25 books, including The Enlightenment: An Interpretation, a multi-volume award winner; Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider (1968), a bestseller; and the widely translated Freud: A Life for Our Time (1988).
Gay was born in Berlin in 1923 and immigrated to the United States in 1941. From 1948 to 1955 he was a political science professor at Columbia University, and then a history professor from 1955 to 1969. He left Columbia in 1969 to join Yale University’s History Department as Professor of Comparative and Intellectual European History, and was named Sterling Professor of History in 1984. Gay was the interim or of The American Scholar after the death of Hiram Haydn in 1973, and served on that magazine's orial board for many years. Sander L. Gilman, a literary historian at Emory University, called Gay "one of the major American historians of European thought, period".
Early life and education
Born in June 1923 as Peter Joachim Fröhlich in Berlin, he and his family fled from Nazi Germany in 1939 and arrived in the U.S. in 1941. In Berlin, he was educated at the Goethe-Gymnasium. His family initially booked passage on the MS St. Louis (whose passengers were eventually denied visas) but fortuitously changed their booking to an earlier voyage to Cuba. He came to the United States in 1941, took American citizenship in 1946, and changed his name from Fröhlich (German for "happy") to Gay.
Gay received his education at the University of Denver, where he was awarded a BA in 1946 and at Columbia University where he was awarded an MA in 1947 and PhD in 1951. Gay worked as political science professor at Columbia between 1948–1955 and as history professor from 1955–1969. He taught at Yale University from 1969 until his retirement in 1993.
According to the American Historical Association's Award Citation, Gay's range of "scholarly achievements is truly remarkable". The New York Times described him in 2007 as "the country's pre-eminent cultural historian".
Gay's 1959 book, Voltaire's Politics: The Poet as Realist, examined Voltaire as a politician and how his politics influenced the ideas that Voltaire championed in his writings. Accompanying Voltaire's Politics was Gay's collection of essays, The Party of Humanity: Essays in the French Enlightenment (1964). Gay followed the success of Voltaire's Politics with a wider history of the Enlightenment, The Enlightenment: An Interpretation (1966, 1969, 1973), whose first volume won the 1967 U.S. National Book Award in History and Biography. Annelien de Dijn argues that Gay, in The Enlightenment, first formulated the interpretation that the Enlightenment brought political modernization to the West, in terms of introducing democratic values and institutions and the creation of modern, liberal democracies. While the thesis has many critics, it has been widely accepted by Anglophone scholars and has been reinforced by the large-scale studies by Robert Darnton, Roy Porter and most recently by Jonathan Israel. His 1968 book, Weimar Culture, was a study on the cultural history of the Weimar Republic.
Gay was also a champion of psychohistory and an admirer of Sigmund Freud. Starting in 1978 with Freud, Jews and Other Germans, an examination of the impact of Freudian ideas on German culture, his writing demonstrated an increasing interest in psychology. Many of his works focused on the social impact of psychoanalysis. For example, in A Godless Jew: Freud, Atheism, and the Making of Psychoanalysis, he linked Freud's atheism to his development of psychoanalysis as a field. He wrote history books applying Freud's theories to history, such as The Bourgeois Experience: From Victoria to Freud. He also ed a collection of Freud's writings called The Freud Reader. His writing was generally favorable to Freud and his school of thought, although it could be critical at times.
Gay's 2007 book Modernism: The Lure of Heresy explores the modernist movement in the arts from the 1840s to the 1960s, from its beginnings in Paris to its spread to Berlin and New York City, ending with its death in 1960s pop art.
Gay died at his home in Manhattan on May 12, 2015, at the age of 91.
Gay was married to Ruth Gay née Slotkin (died 2006) in 1959 and had three stepchildren.
Awards and recognition
Gay received numerous awards for his scholarship, including the National Book Award in History and Biography for The Rise of Modern Paganism (1967), the first volume of The Enlightenment; the first Amsterdam Prize for Historical Science from The Hague, 1990; and the Gold Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1992. In addition, he was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1967–68 and in 1978–79; a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin, Germany; and an Overseas Fellow of Churchill College University from 1970 to 1971. In 1988, he was honored by The New York Public Library as a Library Lion. The following year, he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Professor Gay held an ACLS Fellowship in 1959–60. He has also been recognized with several honorary doctorates.
- American Historical Association Award for Scholarly Distinction, 2004 
- Geschwister-Scholl-Preis (Munich, 1999) 
- American Academy of Arts and Letters, Gold Medal, 1992 
- Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences Award for Historical Science, The A.H. Heineken Prize, 1990 
- American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1989 
- New York Public Library, Library Lion, 1988 
- National Book Award, 1967 
- Guggenheim Fellowship 1966 
- The Dilemma of Democratic Socialism: Eduard Bernstein's Challenge to Marx, 1952.
- Voltaire's Politics: The Poet as Realist, 1959.
- "Rhetoric and Politics in the French Revolution," The American Historical Review Vol. 66, No. 3, April 1961
- "An Age of Crisis: A Critical View," The Journal of Modern History Vol. 33, No. 2, June 1961
- The Party of Humanity: Essays in the French Enlightenment, 1964.
- The Enlightenment: An Interpretation: The Rise of Modern Paganism, 1966 — winner of the National Book Award. Reissued 1995.
- The Loss of Mastery: Puritan Historians in Colonial America, 1966.
- Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider, 1968.
- Deism: An Anthology, 1968. – or
- The Enlightenment: An Interpretation: The Science of Freedom, 1969. Reissued 1995.
- The Bridge of Criticism: Dialogues on the Enlightenment, 1970.
- Historians at Work – 4 vols., 1972-5.
- Modern Europe: Since 1815, co-written with Robert Kiefer Webb, 1973.
- The Enlightenment; A Comprehensive Anthology, 1973.
- Style in History, 1974.
- Art and Act: On Causes in History— Manet, Gropius, Mondrian, 1976.
- Freud, Jews, and Other Germans: Masters and Victims in Modernist Culture, 1978.
- The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud, 5 vols., 1984–1998, including "The Education of the Senses" (1984), "The Tender Passion" (1986), "The Cultivation of Hatred" (1993), "The Naked Heart" (1995), and "Pleasure Wars" (1998).
- Freud for Historians, 1985.
- A Godless Jew: Freud, Atheism, and the Making of Psychoanalysis, 1987.
- Freud: A Life for Our Time, 1988 — finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction.
- Editor The Freud Reader, 1989.
- Reading Freud: Explorations & Entertainments, 1990.
- Sigmund Freud and Art: His Personal Collection of Antiquities, 1993.
- My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin, 1998 (autobiography).
- Mozart, 1999.
- Schnitzler's Century, 2002.
- Modernism: The Lure of Heresy: from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond, 2007.
- Why the Romantics Matter, 2015.
- ^ "Peter Gay". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ a b c Grimes, William, Peter Gay, Historian Who Explored Social History of Ideas, Dies at 91. The New York Times, May 12, 2015.
- ^ Robert Wilson, "Departures", The American Scholar, Summer 2015.
- ^ Bolick, Kate. "Q&A with Peter Gay", Boston Globe, 25 November 2007.
- ^ a b Siegel, Lee (December 30, 2007). "The Blush of the New". New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- ^ Rodrigo Brandão, "Can a Skeptic be a Reformer? Skepticism in Morals and Politics During the Enlightenment: The Case of Voltaire," Skepticism and Political Thought in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (2015)
- ^ a b c d "National Book Awards – 1967". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
- ^ De Dijn, Annelien (2012). "The Politics of Enlightenment: From Peter Gay to Jonathan Israel". Historical Journal. 55 (3): 785–805. doi:10.1017/S0018246X12000301.
- ^ "Weimar Culture : the Outsider as Insider Peter Gay". The Spectator. Retrieved 2015-05-11.
- ^ "Berlin, Brecht, Bauhaus and a Whole Generation of Isherwoods". New York Times. November 24, 1968. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- ^ a b Rogow, Arnold A. (September 8, 1985). "The World on a Couch". New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- ^ a b Ivry, Benjamin (May 13, 2015). "Remembering Historian and Freud Biographer Peter Gay". Forward. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- ^ a b Green, Martin (January 29, 1978). "A Love Affair With German Culture". New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- ^ Marshall, John (October 11, 1987). "Mapping the States of the Mind". New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- ^ " ACLS.org
- ^ "Peter Gay, intellectual historian, dead at age 91". Denver Post. May 11, 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
- ^ "dankesrede von peter gay". Geschwister-Scholl-Preis. Retrieved 2015-05-11.
- ^ "Peter Gay, Intellectual Historian, Dead at Age 91". ABC News. Retrieved 2015-05-11.
- ^ "Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences Awards 2008 History Prize to Jonathan Israel". Institute for Advanced Studies. Retrieved 2015-05-11.
- ^ "Arts : Arts and Letters Group Admits 10". LA Times. Retrieved 2015-05-11.
- ^ "Bookworms Devour Library's Lions". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-05-22.
- ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Peter Gay". Guggenheim Foundation. Retrieved 2015-05-11.
- ^ "The Dilemma of Democratic Socialism. Eduard Bernstein's Challenge to Marx.: Peter Gay: Amazon.com: Books". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "Amazon.com: Voltaire's Politics: The Poet as Realist (9780300040951): Professor Peter Gay: Books". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "The Party of Humanity". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "A Loss of Mastery". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "Deism; an anthology". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "The Bridge of Criticism". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "Historians at Work (4 Volumes Set): Peter Gay, Gerald J. Cavanaugh: 9780060114732: Amazon.com: Books". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "Modern Europe: Since 1815". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "The Enlightenment; a comprehensive anthology". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "Style in History". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "Art and act". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "Freud, Jews and Other Germans". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "The Bourgeois experience". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "Freud for Historians". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "A Godless Jew". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "1988 National Book Awards Winners and Finalists". National Book Foundation. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- ^ "The Freud Reader". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "Reading Freud". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "Sigmund Freud and Art". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "My German Question". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "Mozart". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "Schnitzler's Century: The Making of Middle-Class Culture 1815–1914". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^ "Modernism". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- Becker, Carl L. (1932), The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers, 1991 reprint, New Haven: Yale.
- Darnton, Robert (1971). "In Search of the Enlightenment: Recent Attempts to Create a Social History of Ideas". Journal of Modern History. 43 (1): 113–132. doi:10.1086/240591. JSTOR 1877929.
- Sarbin, Theodore S (1987). "Freud for Historians". History & Theory. 26 (3): 352–64. JSTOR 2505069.
- Toews, John (1991). "Historicizing Psychoanalysis: Freud in His Time and of Our Time". Journal of Modern History. 63: 504–545. doi:10.1086/244354. JSTOR 2938629.