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Eight of the nine pieces in The Sense of Reality are published here for the first time. The range is characteristically wide: realism in history; judgement in politics; the special right of philosophers to self-expression; the history of socialism; the nature and impact of Marxism; the radical cultural revolution instigated by romanticism; the Russian notion of artistic commitment; the origins and practice of nationalism. The title essay, starting from the impossibility of recreating a bygone epoch, provides a superb centrepiece.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780712673679
ISBN-10: 0712673679
Format: Paperback
(233mm x 154mm x 22mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: Pimlico
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 18-Sep-1997
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Astonishingly, this omnium gatherum of essays, addresses, lectures and broadcasts by one of the world's leading historians of ideas, consists of pieces that had never previously been published. Ranging from topics like 'realism in history' and 'judgment in politics' to the Russian notion of artistic commitment and the impossibility of re-creating a bygone epoch, they reveal yet again the huge intellectual power and range of Isaiah Berlin and the sheer quality of a Rolls Royce mind at work (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » More of a motley in scope than previous selections of his essays (The Crooked Timber of Humanity, 1991, etc.), this collection nonetheless displays Berlin's superb erudition and always stimulating insights. Berlin's career has spanned the century: He witnessed the 1917 revolution in Petrograd, has had diplomatic postings in Washington and Moscow, and has headed Oxford's Wolfson College, the British Academy, and the Royal Opera. His activities have generated a variety of occasional work - lectures, conference papers, radio programs, etc. - from which this collection has been assembled. All of the pieces are distinguished by his informed fascination with the history of ideas. He returns to one of his favorite topics, the impact of Marxism on Russian thinkers. Tolstoy, Turgenev, and the earlier critic Belinsky are considered together in "Artistic Commitment: A Russian Legacy," an exploration of the aesthetic-utilitarian debate in Russian history. "Marxism and the International in the Nineteenth Century," a lecture given on the First International's centenary, is not only an excellent blow-by-blow account of Marx's dealings with the organization, but a superlative gloss on Marxism as action and theory. The collection's wildest card, an essay on the Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, manages to be both an excellent summary of Berlin's ideas on nationalism - its attractions and its discontents - and an appreciation of the underrated pragmatism of the mystic poet. Elsewhere, Berlin dilates magisterially on the links between nationalism and Romanticism and the nuances of political judgment. The two stand-outs, however, are markedly different: In almost Jamesian prose, "The Sense of Reality" and "Philosophy and Government Oppression" come as close to a personal philosophy of history and intellectual freedom as anything Berlin has written. Penetrating work from the old fox of liberalism, as brilliant in rethinking the past as in recreating its thought. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Isaiah Berlin

Sir Isaiah Berlin, O.M., was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1909. He came to England in 1919 and was educated at St Paul's School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. At Oxford, he was a a Fellow of All Souls College (1932-8, 1950-67), a Fellow of New College (1938-50), Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory (1957-67), first President of Wolfson College (1966-75), and President of the British Academy from 1974 to 1978. His achievements as a historian and expositor of ideas earned him the Erasmus, Lippincott, and Agnelli Prizes, and his lifelong defence of civil liberties earned him the Jerusalem Prize. He died in 1997.

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