The cultural historian Jacques Barzun, died peacefully on Thursday night at his home in San Antonio, Texas, where he had lived in recent years, with his son-in-law. The 104-year-old professor became the best-selling author in the year 2000 with “From Dawn to Decadence” at age 90. Barzun was born in November 30, 1907. A French-born American endowed with history ideas and culture.
Barzun married Mariana Lowell in 1936, a violinist from a prominent Boston family, who died in 1979. In 1980 Barzun married Lee Davenport they live in her hometown San Antonio. The renowned author left behind 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, according to his daughter, Isabel Barzun. Barzun attended a symphony performance in his honor, performing works by his favorite composer, Hector Berlioz. He attended in a wheelchair, but delivered a brief address to the crowd.
He wrote dozen of books and essays with a wide range, but is perhaps best know as philosopher of education. Barzun moved to the U.S. in 1920 became one of its starriest and most combative academics. Over several decades, Barzun wrote and edited more that forty books touching on an unusually broad range of subjects including science and medicine, psychiatry from Robert Burton through William James to modern methods, art, and classical music.
Jacques Barzun continued to write on education and cultural history since retiring from Columbia University where he taught for nearly 50 years.
At age 84 he began writing his swan song, which he devoted the better part of the 90s to. The book of more than 800 pages, “From Dawn to Decadence:” some 500 years of the Western Cultural Life reveals a vast erudition and brilliance as it became a New York Times bestseller.
Among the books and magazines that he edited, “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball,” made it to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. where on his 100 birthdays he autographed a bat celebrating the achievement.
Some of quotes from Jacques Barzun:
“A man who has both feet planted firmly in the air can be safely called a liberal as opposed to the conservative, who has both feet firmly planted in his mouth.”
“Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game – and do it by watching first some high school or small-town teams.”
“If it were possible to talk to the unborn, one could never explain to them how it feels to be alive, for life is washed in the speechless real. “
In 2003, Barzun was awarded a “Presidential Metal of Freedom,” the highest civilian honor by President Bush. Few academics of the last century have equaled his output and his influence.” In 2010, he received a National Humanities Medal.
“He was a gentleman. He was a scholar. He was refined he was kind. He was enormously generous in spirit,” said Parfit, his son-in-law. “He was one of a kind.”