For many years the term fin de siecle has been used to imply a state of decadence which was thought to have pervaded 'civilised' European society in the years around 1900. This volume of essays, which draw on a very wide range of disciplines, argues that the period was in fact one of dramatic change, essentially positive and forward-looking in character. This was the period of the rise of the giant corporation, of mass production and mass consumption, and of the development of the generation and distribution of electrical energy. Novel social features such as mass politics, mass media, and mass sport involved the body of ordinary people and in the arts, complex reactions to contemporary social reality were aroused and expressed. This was also the period which gave birth to the study of quantum mechanics, relativity physics, mental processes and genetics. This volume forms part of a sequence of collections of essays which began with The Enlightenment in National Context (1981) and has continued with Romanticism in National Context (1988). They bring together comparative, national and interdisciplinary approaches to the history of great movements in the development of human thought and actions.