Sense of Reality: Studies in Ideas and Their History

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9780701165796: Sense of Reality: Studies in Ideas and Their History

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Isaiah Berlin's The Sense of Reality contains an important body of previously unknown work by one of our century's leading historians of ideas, and one of the finest essayists writing in English. Eight of the nine pieces included here are published for the first time, and their range is characteristically wide: the subjects explored include realism in history; judgement in politics; the history of socialism; the nature and impact of Marxism; the radical cultural revolution instigated by the Romantics; Russian notions of artistic commitment; and the origins and practice of nationalism. The title essay, starting from the impossibility of historians being able to recreate a bygone epoch, is a superb centerpiece.

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Review:

The publication of a new book by Sir Isaiah Berlin is always a welcome thing, and The Sense of Reality is no exception. In this volume the eminent scholar gathers nine long essays, eight previously unpublished, on the ideas that have governed European history for the last three centuries: nationalism, liberalism, and especially Marxism. Always seeking to draw moral lessons, Berlin wonders aloud why it is that humans admire men stirred by the lust for power or jealousy of others, or monomaniacal vanity--including notable figures of history like Peter the Great and Napoleon. He proposes a few answers in this study of ideas brought to power, and those answers are always illuminating.

About the Author:

Sir Isaiah Berlin was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1909 and immigrated to England in 1921. Berlin's achievement as a historian and exponent of ideas earned him the Erasmus, Lippincott, and Agnelli Prizes. He also received the Jerusalem Prize for his lifelong defense of civil liberties. A Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, he was the author of ten other books. Sir Isaiah died in Oxford in November 1997.

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ISBN 10: 0701165790 ISBN 13: 9780701165796
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