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the Complete Review
the complete review - non-fiction

Coming of Age
at the End of History

Camille de Toledo

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To purchase Coming of Age at the End of History

Title: Coming of Age at the End of History
Author: Camille de Toledo
Genre: Non-fiction
Written: 2002 (Eng. 2008)
Length: 151 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Coming of Age at the End of History - US
Coming of Age at the End of History - UK
Coming of Age at the End of History - Canada
Archimondain, jolipunk - Canada
Archimondain, jolipunk - France
Goodbye Tristesse - Deutschland
  • French title: Archimondain, jolipunk
  • Translated by Blake Ferris

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Our Assessment:

B : often silly and already somewhat dated, but written with a lot of verve and makes some points of interest

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 25/11/2005 Claudius Seidl
Freitag . 2/12/2005 Ingo Arend
L'Humanité . 12/12/2002 Guillaume Chérel
The Village Voice . 16/7/2008 Andrew Bast

  From the Reviews:
  • "Daß man Toledos Prosa als Literatur lesen sollte, liegt aber vor allem daran, daß Toledo sein Außen, sein Jenseits, während er noch mit (zum Teil eher kindischen und naiven) Argumenten darum ringt, bis er, als seine Lösung, eine "Romantik der offenen Augen" präsentiert -- daß er dieses Außen von Anfang an gefunden hat: in seiner Sprache, die sich der Verfügbarkeit und Leichtverständlichkeit konsequent verweigert (.....) Und genau da liegt die größte Schwäche dieses Buchs, das viel rhetorischen Aufwand betreibt, um immer wieder zu beklagen, daß alles, wirklich alles, was in der Kunst und in der Populärkultur einst rebellisch, widerständig, böse war, längst aufgefressen worden sei, weichgekaut und dann wieder ausgespuckt, zum freundlichen Gebrauch in der Apple-Werbung oder in Management-Seminaren." - Claudius Seidl, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Toledos Buch ist ein einziger Sturmlauf gegen die Postmoderne. Die Rhetorik, derer er sich dabei bedient, bläht sich bisweilen gefährlich." - Ingo Arend, Freitag

  • "Le tout, empêtré dans un salmigondis de références culturelles (j’ai tout lu, tout vu, de Baudrillard à Godard, regardez comme je suis cultivé !). Cette petite pique mise à part, l’irruption de ce nouveau venu dans le PLF (paysage littéraire français) est plutôt une bonne nouvelle. C'est même rassurant." - Guillaume Chérel, L'Humanité

  • "What's most valuable about Coming of Age at the End of History is Toledo's willingness to throw himself wildly into grand ideas. He uses punk rock, the Situationists, and Jean-Marie Messier, the once super-CEO of Vivendi, all in one breath to condemn the "mass dandyism" of today -- an indictment of the cynicism and general acceptance of the status quo, of mediocrity. Or, put another way, Toledo is targeting his angry, pointed finger on the educated liberals who spend their time watching Jon Stewart and reading The Onion. Instead of resistance, the young, smart, and discontented have relegated themselves to unruffled, even enjoyable, complacency." - Andrew Bast, The Village Voice

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Camille de Toledo's essay dates from 2002, but his bracketing of an 'end of history' in that space between the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the attacks on New York and Washington D.C. in 2001 is plausible enough. As he notes, Francis Fukuyama already proposed it earlier in 1989, and for a while, as the former Soviet bloc converged with the West, there was a sense of that in the air. History has since come back, with a very different sort of vengeance, but Coming of Age at the End of History is still an interesting document of the times.
       Born in 1976, 'Camille de Toledo' was clearly disappointed by the world he was growing up in. He found it stifling, and so:

My goal in setting out on this exploratory mission into its invisible architecture has been to try and understand how revolt has been neutralized and how in our resulting helplessness -- since there are apparently no other options open -- we seem condemned to seek shelter in irony.
       Apparently the status quo will not do: if he can't have history advancing, Toledo at least insists on revolt. But while he has a point about how it often seems that everything has been co-opted by today's (or at least yesterday's) global capitalism, he's a bit too enamored of revolt for its own sake:
"I'm totally ready to throw Molotov cocktails," you said to yourself after class, "but at whom ?"
       At least Toledo tries to take a stab at diagnosing what's wrong (and who the proper targets might be), offering also lots of literary and cultural allusions, demonstrating how widely-read he is. Some autobiography also comes into play, as he describes his very rebellious youth -- much of which sounds like rather desperate acting-out, and which, to his credit, he doesn't present as something to be taken very seriously. Significantly, too, -- though he only acknowledges this in an Epilogue -- the man-child calling himself 'Camille de Toledo' isn't just a son of privilege, but rather a son of super-privilege, an extra-textual fact that can't help but colour his arguments, and makes it all the harder to take them entirely seriously. (To exaggerate slightly: the anarchist who can, at essentially a moment's notice, become a multinational-corporate magnate will always lack credibility, and even if Toledo claims to have burned those bridges it's hard to completely believe him.)
       Its focus on this particular time is both one of the limitations of the book, as well as its strength. Toledo has read a great deal but he hasn't experienced much else, and so his focus on this as such a pivotal transitional era looks very limited -- all the more so since the world and a variety of the conditions he discusses have continued to change since that time. Yet within his limited view Toledo offers a fairly interesting discussion, and stylistically it's also quite appealing.
       An interesting document of the times -- though very much of the times.

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Coming of Age at the End of History: Reviews:

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About the Author:

       French author Camille de Toledo (actually: Alexis Mital) was born in 1976.

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© 2008-2022 the complete review

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