Enlightening: Letters 1946 - 1960

Enlightening: Letters 1946 - 1960

by Isaiah Berlin
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

'People are my landscape', Isaiah Berlin liked to say, and nowhere is the truth of this observation more evident than in his letters. He is a fascinated watcher of human beings in all their variety, and revels in describing them to his many correspondents. His letters combine ironic social comedy and a passionate concern for individual freedom. His interpretation

See more details below

Overview

'People are my landscape', Isaiah Berlin liked to say, and nowhere is the truth of this observation more evident than in his letters. He is a fascinated watcher of human beings in all their variety, and revels in describing them to his many correspondents. His letters combine ironic social comedy and a passionate concern for individual freedom. His interpretation of political events, historical and contemporary, and his views on how life should be lived, are always grounded in the personal, and his fiercest condemnation is reserved for purveyors of grand abstract theories that ignore what people are really like.


This second volume of Berlin's letters takes up the story when, after war service in the United States, he returns to life as an Oxford don. Against the background of post-war austerity, the letters chart years of academic frustration and self-doubt, the intellectual explosion when he moves from philosophy to the history of ideas, his growing national fame as a broadcaster and lecturer, the publication of some of his best-known works, his election to a professorship and his reaction to knighthood.


These are the years, too, of momentous developments in his private life: the batchelor don's loss of sexual innocence, the emotional turmoil of his father's death, his courtship of a married woman and transformation into husband and stepfather. Above all, these revealing letters vividly display Berlin's effervescent personality - often infuriating, always irresistible.


'Isaiah Berlin was...a brilliant talker and a feline gossip. Readers of Berlin's letters will find that same bubbling flow of malice, wit and human insight on the written page.' The Economist


'Ironic, gossipy, witty, intermittently profound and always intensely human.' Justin Cartwright, Sunday Telegraph, Books of the Year


'As well as being sometimes profoundly wise, these letter are often laugh-out-loud funny' Brian Lynch, Irish Times

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781446496084
Publisher:
Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/30/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
880
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Isaiah Berlin was born in Riga, now capital of Latvia, in 1909. When he was six, his family moved to Russia, and in Petrograd in 1917 Berlin witnessed both Revolutions - Social Democratic and Bolshevik. In 1921 he and his parents emigrated to England, where he was educated at St Paul's School, London, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Apart from his war service in New York, Washington, Moscow and Leningrad, he remained at Oxford thereafter - as a Fellow of All Souls, then of New College, as Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, and as founding President of Wolfson College. He also held the Presidency of the British Academy.

His published work includes Karl Marx, Russian Thinkers, Concepts and Categories, Against the Current, Personal Impressions, The Sense of Reality, The Proper Study of Mankind, The Roots of Romanticism, The Power of Ideas, Three Critics of the Enlightenment, Freedom and Its Betrayal, Liberty, The Soviet Mind and Political Ideas in the Romantic Age. As an exponent of the history of ideas he was awarded the Erasmus, Lippincott and Agnelli Prizes; he also received the Jerusalem Prize for his lifelong defence of civil liberties. He died in 1997.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >