The impact of both the First World War and the accelerated pace of modernization provoked a widespread sense in Europe that the ideals of ‘western civilization’, which had been taken for granted in the years before 1914, faced a critical, perhaps even fatal, turning point. Even before the war, philosophers, artists and scientists had begun to challenge existing moral prejudices, cultural values and material certainties. Friedrich Nietzsche famously declared that ‘God is dead’ and challenged his readers to transcend the narrow confines of Victorian morality. The French writers Henri Bergson and Georges Sorel explored the power of the irrational and impulsive and rejected the desiccated rationalism of the liberal age. A generation of radical artists and writers hailed the right to artistic self-expression and spawned an extraordinary flowering of self-consciously modernist culture (Teich and Porter, 1990).