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by Henry Hardy,Jennifer Holmes,Isaiah Berlin
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Professionals & Academics
  • Author:
    Henry Hardy,Jennifer Holmes,Isaiah Berlin
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    Random House UK (July 1, 2011)
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    854 pages
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    Professionals & Academics
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FREE shipping on qualifying offers. Written by a man with political contacts that yield an inside view of major world events-the creation of Israel.

Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909-97) was a. .So far 15 volumes have appeared, including one of early.

Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909-97) was a distinguished Oxford historian of ideas who memorably classified the world's thinkers (borrowing his terms from an ancient Greek poet) as either "hedgehogs" who "know one big thing" (like Plato or Nietzsche) or "foxes" who "know many things" (like Shakespeare or Montaigne).

I've been reading Isaiah Berlin's Letters, second volumes, covering 1946-60. There'll be another fat vol I'm sure, through to his death in 1997, and I imagine the Complete Berlin Letters will, as a reading experience, match Boswell, even Gibbon. Like you, IB belonged to that disparate band of foreign-born thinkers who so enriched intellectual life in postwar Britain. Karl Popper too, Wittgenstein, others. For what makes these letters work is that despite his famous bonhomie a) IB was an inveterate gossip; b) he was not very nice; and c) he was self-obsessed to a degree.

Start by marking Enlightening: Letters, 1946-1960 as Want to Read: Want to Read savin. ant to Read.

Isaiah Berlin, Building: Letters 1960–1975, ed. Henry Hardy and Mark Pottle (London: Chatto and Windus, 2013), 377–8.

ISBN 978-0-7011-7889-5. 2012) Becoming a Russian-Jew. Isaiah Berlin, Building: Letters 1960–1975, ed. Berger, Marilyn (10 November 1997).

famous for thinking on the hoof. Photograph: Joe Partridge/Rex Features

famous for thinking on the hoof. Photograph: Joe Partridge/Rex Features. And I can still recall the stinker he gave this, when it came out in hardback two years ago: "malicious, snobbish, boastful, cowardly, pompous loghorrhoea", is how he described Berlin's epistolary technique. Or, to put it another way: "The letters are not worth the effort required of them

бесплатно, без регистрации и без смс. 'People are my landscape', Isaiah Berlin liked to say, and nowhere is the truth of this observation more evident than in his letters

бесплатно, без регистрации и без смс. '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.

People are my landscape," Isaiah Berlin liked to say, and nowhere is the truth of this observation more evident than in his letters. This second volume of Berlin’s letters takes up the story when, after war service in the . 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 broadcaster and lecturer, the publication of some of his best-known works, his election.

Enlightening: Letters 1946 - 1960. People are my landscape', Isaiah Berlin liked to say, and nowhere is the truth of this observation more evident than in his letters.

2009, Enlightening: Letters 1946–1960, Henry Hardy and Jennifer Holmes (ed., London: Chatto and Windus. B. Books about Berlin. 2013, Building: Letters 1960–1975, Henry Hardy and Mark Pottle (ed. 2015, Affirming: Letters 1975–1997, Henry Hardy and Mark Pottle (ed. Aarsbergen-Ligtvoet, Connie, 2006, Isaiah Berlin: A Value Pluralist and Humanist View of Human Nature and the Meaning of Life, Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi

Written by a man with political contacts that yield an inside view of major world events—the creation of Israel, the Suez Crisis, the Cold War; as well as a writer who revels in describing his observations of human beings in all their variety to his many correspondents, this second volume of Berlin's letters is uniquely enthralling

Henry Hardy and Jennifer Holmes have done a fine job putting together this second volume of Isaiah Berlin's letters, covering the period 1946 to 1960. Apparently, they have published 20-25 percent of the material from this period. That must be about right, because (a) at about 850 pages the volume makes for a pleasant weekend's reading and (b) the weaker letters, of which there are not many, are only just worth including. The editorial material is informative, yet suitably sparse and unobtrusive. There are very few typos in this fat book.

Berlin belongs, with Plato, Leibniz and Hume, to that select group of philosophers one wouldn't mind meeting, were it possible to resurrect them. Of course, Berlin, unlike the other three, was by no means a great philosopher, if indeed he can be called a philosopher at all. What he was, without doubt, was a supremely gifted gossip, able, as Heine was, to gossip well about philosophers, both the living and the dead. He was interested in people and in how ideas made them better, or worse, than they otherwise might have been. He was in fact a connoisseur of personalities and could size one up almost at a glance. Meeting Nixon at a party in 1958, Berlin required no time at all to see what others needed decades to figure out, namely, that Nixon was "a most shifty, vulgar, dishonest and repellent human being." Because Berlin was not a proper philosopher himself, he wasn't much good at assessing the merits of philosophers as philosophers, as opposed to assessing the influence of their ideas on personalities. For example, he judged (at various times) that J.L. Austin was the cleverest man he had ever known (or the second cleverest, after Keynes). But Berlin knew Popper and Russell, and it is pretty easy to see that, in order of increasing cleverness, the correct sequence is Austin, Keynes, Popper and, enjoying a commanding lead, Russell.

These are entertaining letters. They reveal a great deal about the people Berlin knew, if one allows for Berlin's biases. And they reveal even more about Berlin himself, a very odd bird. His interests were confined almost exclusively to personalities. He appears to have been largely blind to the aesthetic qualities of the natural world and, for a clever man alive in a great age of natural science, astonishingly incurious about physical theory. As these letters show, Berlin was very close to his father, whom he claims to have regarded as a younger brother, and deeply attached to that truly outsized personality, Maurice Bowra. What they also show is that, in one respect at least, Berlin was miles beyond most philosophers: his appreciation for the great variety of human personalities enabled him to see that any attempt to press people into a "rational" society is bound to result in a great deal of breakage.

With luck we'll have the next volume of letters in two or three years.
This is the successor volume to the superb collection covering Berlin letters from 1928-1946.The editors, Henry Hardy and Jennifer Holmes, inform us that because of the heavier volume of letters IB wrote during the postwar period until his death in 1997, they are now projecting at least two more volumes to follow. The same extraordinary editorial dilgence manifested in the prior volume is demonstrated once again. Every letter is annotated with notes (placed fortunately at the base of the page) identifying individuals, publications, and activities referenced in the letter so that the reader knows exactly the context within which IB was writing. This volume is different in that the editors have not printed many letters due to the increased volume of correspondence. These letters tend to be longer than in the previous volume due to IB's discovery of the dictating machine. Some of them go on for 6 or more pages; but the letters now reflect much more how IB spoke (such as in the Jahanbegloo interviews), as well as some of his customary disorgnization when lecturing. IB's enormous range of interests is well represented: everything from weighty opinions on political theorists to music, Israel, Russian intellectual history and juicy Oxford gossip. His wide range of acquaintances also is evident: H.L.A. Hart, Felix Frankfurter, Ben Cohen, Katherine Graham of the Washington Post, Maurice Bowra, E.H. Carr, Joseph Alsop, and Irving Kristol to name just a few. We also learn why IB published relatively little during his lifetime: for him to sit down and write was virtually an ordeal, intensified by his perpetual disorganization and practice of overcommitment to engagements. His lectures, according to him, were often disasters, an opinion not frequently shared by his audience, although his inability to maintain eye contact with anyone other that the back wall of the lecture hall must have been difficult to accept.

The book is organized chronologically with sections keyed to where IB was during a particular period (Oxford [New College and All Souls]; visits to Harvard, Chicago and New York), or significant events in his life such as his marriage, designation as Chichele Professor, and knighthood. Much of his substantive intellectual history interests are reflected in the letters, which adds context to his published work on these topics. When he is critical of someone, he lays out his reasons (e.g., Isaac Deutscher, G.D.H. Cole, Rowse, Mortimer Adler, Hannah Arendt, and Dean Acheson). He also explains why he likes certain folks such as Edmund Wilson, B. Berenson, and Trevor-Roper. These letters were not meant for publication so they are extremely candid and open; historians of the future will decry the introduction of email and the telephone which will probably largely extinguish the existence of correspondence as a research source.

While extremely lengthy (700 or so pages), and sometimes a bit repetitive, the letters have an unique ability to place the reader into the context during which IB was writing. We learn also some of IB's feet of clay: his proclivity for affairs with married women (Jenifer Hart and his wife being the prime examples), that he sometimes lied in his letters, and that he was somewhat insecure as surprising as that may appear. The letters are supported by four interesting appendices; 42 photographic plates and other illustrations; a biographical glossary of the leading individuals who appear in the letters; an index to the sources of the correspondence and a 37 page index. Also of extreme value is a 17-page chronology of Berlin's activities between 1946 and 1960. The editors have scored two out of two bull's eyes with the first two volumes; the prospect of at least two more tasty morsils is enticing.