Russian Thinkers

Russian Thinkers

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Overview

Required reading for fans of Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia-the landmark investigation into Russian history and thought 

Few, if any, English-language critics have written as perceptively as Isaiah Berlin about Russian thought and culture. Russian Thinkers is his unique meditation on the impact that Russia's outstanding writers and philosophers had on its culture. In addition to Tolstoy's philosophy of history, which he addresses in his most famous essay, "The Hedgehog and the Fox," Berlin considers the social and political circumstances that produced such men as Herzen, Bakunin, Turgenev, Belinsky, and others of the Russian intelligentsia, who made up, as Berlin describes, "the largest single Russian contribution to social change in the world."

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780141442204
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/25/2008
Series: Penguin Classics Series
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 594,261
Product dimensions: 5.09(w) x 7.79(h) x 1.01(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Isaiah Berlin, O.M., C.B.E., first President of Wolfson College, Oxford, from 1966 to 1975, is a Fellow of All Souls. He was a Fellow of New College from 1938 to 1950 and Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford from 1957 to 1967. He served as President of the British Academy of Arts and Letters. He holds honorary degrees from the universities of Brandies, Cambridge, Columbia, East Anglia, Glasgow, Harvard, Hull, Jerusalem, Liverpool, London and Tel Aviv. Sir Isaiah's work covers a wide variety of subjects, but most of his work has appeared in periodicals and symposia. Russian Thinkers is the first of four volumes edited by Henry Hardy which bring together for the first time all of Isaiah Berlin's major essays (excluding those already published in Four Essays on Liberty and Vico and Herder). Isaiah Berlin's other contributions to Russian studies include his translation of Ivan Turgenev's First Love (available from Penguin) and his Introduction to Alexander Herzen's memoirs, My Past and Thoughts. Sir Isaiah was awarded the Jerusalem Prize in 1979 for the expression in his writings of the idea of the freedom of the individual in society.

What People are Saying About This

Tom Stoppard

Isaiah Berlin is an author without whom I could not have written these plays. (Tom Stoppard, in The Coast of Utopia program)

From the Publisher

"Isaiah Berlin is an author without whom I could not have written these plays."
-Tom Stoppard, in The Coast of Utopia program

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Russian Thinkers 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Classic work on Russian literature and ideas. Included in his excellent collection of essays, Russian Thinkers, Isaiah Berlin has a fascinating essay, The Hedgehog and the Fox. In this essay Berlin uses the distinction found in a fragment of the poet Archilocus that argues that there are two types of thinkers: Hedgehogs, who know one big thing and foxes, who know many things. Berlin goes on to categorize the great thinkers of the ages into groups based on this distinction. Hedgehogs like Dante, Plato, Lucretius, Pascal and Dostoevsky versus foxes like Shakespeare, Herodotus, Aristotle, Goethe and Balzac. He goes on to attempt to classify Tolstoy and analyze his view of history. It is a worthy task and I will recommend to all that they read the essay and decide for themselves what Berlin succeeds in accomplishing with all his analysis. It is essays like this one that document the seriousness of the thought of Isaiah Berlin. His insight into Russian authors like Turgenev is magnificent. This is a delightful collection of essays.
ijustgetbored on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It should be noted first that Isaiah Berlin knew his material backwards and forwards; the book bears the mark of exhaustive study. Russian Thinkers is a collection of essays on Russian luminaries, including Alexander Herzen, Belinsky, Tolstoy, Bakunin, and the populists (including Chernyshevsky). It would be helpful to have background knowledge about Russian history in this time period (mainly 19th century) before reading the book, but it is also intersting as a philosophical text, and Berlin expertly outlines the thought of these major figures. The main obstacle to reading this work may be Berlin's writing style, which is initially somewhat clunky (strangely, I found this to be the case mainly in his famous essay "The Hedgehog and the Fox"), but it does flow better once one gets used to it. Like all philosophical texts, though, what at first seems abstruse often proves rewarding and enriching. This book would be of interest to those who enjoy history or philosophy. (note: if you like this text, Personal Impressions is also worth a look)