Personal Impressions

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Hogarth Press, 1980 - Biographies - 20e siècle - 219 pages
This remarkable collection contains Isaiah Berlin's appreciations of seventeen people of unusual distinction in the intellectual or political world, sometimes both. The names of many of them are familiar: Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Chaim Weizmann, Albert Einstein, and others. With the exception of Roosevelt, he met them all and knew many of them well. For this expanded edition, four new portraits have been added, including those of Virginia Woolf and Edmund Wilson. This volume also contains a vivid and moving account of Berlin's meetings in Russia with Boris Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova in 1945 and 1956. Perhaps the most fascinating of these "personal impressions" is found in the epilogue, where Berlin describes the three strands in his own personality: Russian, English, and Jewish.

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Contents

Winston Churchill in 1940
1
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
23
Chaim Weizmann
32
Copyright

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About the author (1980)

Philosopher, political theorist, and essayist, Isaiah Berlin was born in 1909 to Russian-speaking Jewish parents in Latvia. Reared in Latvia and later in Russia, Berlin developed a strong Russian-Jewish identity, having witnessed both the Social-Democratic and the Bolshevik Revolutions. At the age of 12, Berlin moved with his family to England, where he attended prep school and then St. Paul's. In 1928, he went up as a scholar to Corpus Christi College in Oxford. After an unsuccessful attempt at the Manchester Guardian, Berlin was offered a position as lecturer in philosophy at New College. Almost immediately, he was elected to a fellowship at All Souls. During this time at All Souls, Berlin wrote his brilliant biographical study of Marx, titled Karl Marx: His Life and Environment (1939), for the Home University Library. Berlin continued to teach through early World War II, and was then sent to New York by the Ministry of Information, and subsequently to the Foreign Office in Washington, D.C. It was during these years that he drafted several fine works regarding the changing political mood of the United States, collected in Washington Despatches 1941-1945 (1981). By the end of the war, Berlin had shifted his focus from philosophy to the history of ideas, and in 1950 he returned to All Souls. In 1957, he was elected to the Chichele Chair of Social and Political Theory, delivering his influential and best-known inaugural lecture, Two Concepts of Liberty. Some of his works include Liberty, The Soviet Mind: Russian Culture under Communism, Flourishing: Selected Letters 1928 - 1946, Political Ideas in the Romantic Age: Their Rise and Influence on Modern Thought, and Unfinished Dialogue, Prometheus. Berlin died in Oxford on November 5, 1997.

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