A Life in Works
It is difficult to categorize Berlin’s many works, since they typically straddled conventional subject boundaries, a function of his unconventional and unhidebound approach. It is impossible, for example, to separate the philosopher from the historian of ideas; and his works were infused throughout with an interest in the human condition. Nevertheless, one can helpfully identify six subject areas, and this section of the website will explore Berlin’s contribution to each of these fields, as well as the reception of his works – both past and present.
Berlin began his Oxford career as a philosopher, and this section of the website will examine his contribution to philosophy, and to political theory.
Berlin's works in this field span several decades, and include Karl Marx: His Life and Environment (1939), The Hedgehog and the Fox (1953), and the essays collected by Henry Hardy in Against the Current (1979), The Crooked Timber of Humanity (1990) and Three Critics of the Enlightenment (2000). This section will examine these works, against the backround of contemporary and current debate.
Of Russian radicals and revolutionaries - Berlin wrote with great insight on Russian culture and intellectual history. His subjects included Leo Tolstoy, Anna Akhmatova and Alexander Herzen, to name just three of the figures that fascinated him.
Collected under the apt title Personal Impressions (1980), Berlin's biographical sketches include figures of world renown – Winston Churchill, Chaim Weizmann, Albert Einstein, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Boris Pasternak, and Anna Akhmatova (all of whom IB met), and lesser but no less interesting figures, such as the Oxford figure Maurice Bowra, the Zionist Yitzhak Sadeh, and the literary critic Edmund Wilson.
Notes to come.
Notes to come.