A Letter From Europe

A Letter From Europe

VIENNA – There is, at first, no culture shock. So much about Europe seems familiar. American civilization, after all, had followed a basically European
pattern well into the 1940s. Still in the last years before the suburban dispersal, Boston, with its elegant inner core of theaters, restaurants, and quiet residential streets, with its streetcars and its railways reaching out across a distinctly rural, farming area to other urban centers, remained recognizably a European city. Older Americans— and, by some strange cultural osmosis, many of the middle generation as well—still carry in their minds that image of America as essentially an urban civilization, with densely settled towns capable of generating trade and culture, serving as foci of an agricultural countryside. Coming to Europe, an American is still first aware of the similarity of what he encounters to his traditional image of America, not of the vast gap between that image and present-day American reality.

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