Personal Impressions: Updated Edition

Princeton University Press
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In this collection of remarkable biographical portraits, the great essayist and intellectual historian Isaiah Berlin brings to life a wide range of prominent twentieth-century thinkers, politicians, and writers. These include Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Chaim Weizmann, Albert Einstein, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Boris Pasternak, and Anna Akhmatova. With the exception of Roosevelt, Berlin met them all, and he knew many of them well. Other figures recalled here include the Zionist Yitzhak Sadeh, the U.S. Supreme Court judge Felix Frankfurter, the classicist and wit Maurice Bowra, the philosopher J. L. Austin, and the literary critic Edmund Wilson. For this edition, ten new pieces have been added, including portraits of David Ben-Gurion, Maynard and Lydia Keynes, and Stephen Spender, as well as Berlin's autobiographical reflections on Jewish Oxford and his Oxford undergraduate years. Rich and enlightening, Personal Impressions is a vibrant demonstration of Berlin’s belief that ideas truly live only through people.
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More by Isaiah Berlin

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The essays collected in this new volume reveal Isaiah Berlin at his most lucid and accessible. He was constitutionally incapable of writing with the opacity of the specialist, but these shorter, more introductory pieces provide the perfect starting-point for the reader new to his work. Those who are already familiar with his writing will also be grateful for this further addition to his collected essays.

The connecting theme of these essays, as in the case of earlier volumes, is the crucial social and political role--past, present and future--of ideas, and of their progenitors. A rich variety of subject-matters is represented--from philosophy to education, from Russia to Israel, from Marxism to romanticism--so that the truth of Heine's warning is exemplified on a broad front. It is a warning that Berlin often referred to, and provides an answer to those who ask, as from time to time they do, why intellectual history matters.


Among the contributions are "My Intellectual Path," Berlin's last essay, a retrospective autobiographical survey of his main preoccupations; and "Jewish Slavery and Emancipation," the classic statement of his Zionist views, long unavailable in print. His other subjects include the Enlightenment, Giambattista Vico, Vissarion Belinsky, Alexander Herzen, G.V. Plekhanov, the Russian intelligentsia, the idea of liberty, political realism, nationalism, and historicism. The book exhibits the full range of his enormously wide expertise and demonstrates the striking and enormously engaging individuality, as well as the power, of his own ideas.


"Over a hundred years ago, the German poet Heine warned the French not to underestimate the power of ideas: philosophical concepts nurtured in the stillness of a professor's study could destroy a civilization."--Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty, 1958.


This new edition adds a number of previously uncollected pieces, including Berlin's earliest statement of the pluralism of values for which he is famous.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
May 25, 2014
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Pages
528
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ISBN
9781400851683
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Philosophy / Political
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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