This new edition features a revised text that supplants all previous versions, English translations of the many passages in foreign languages, a new foreword in which Berlin biographer Michael Ignatieff explains the enduring appeal of Berlin's essay, and a new appendix that provides rich context, including excerpts from reviews and Berlin's letters, as well as a startling new interpretation of Archilochus's epigram.
Political Ideas in the Romantic Age is the only book in which the great intellectual historian Isaiah Berlin lays out in one continuous account most of his key insights about the period he made his own. Written for a series of lectures at Bryn Mawr College in 1952, and heavily revised and expanded by Berlin afterward, the book argues that the political ideas of 1760-1830 are still largely ours, down to the language and metaphors they are expressed in. Berlin provides a vivid account of some of the era’s most influential thinkers, including Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, Helvetius, Condorcet, Saint-Simon, and Schelling. Written in Berlin’s characteristically accessible style, this is his longest single text. Distilling his formative early work and containing much that is not to be found in his famous essays, the book is of great interest both for what it reveals about the continuing influence of Romantic political thinking and for what it shows about the development of Berlin’s own influential thought.
The book has been carefully prepared by Berlin's longtime editor Henry Hardy, and Joshua L. Cherniss provides an illuminating introduction that sets it in the context of Berlin's life and work.