'These lectures represent Berlin at his best: quick-minded, erudite, witty and profound, and, above all, exciting. To read this book is to feel the force of living thought coming white-hot from the forge of a superb mind.' John Banville, Irish Times
"The Roots of Romanticism" at last makes availavle in printed form Isaiah Berlin's most famous lecture series, the Mellon Lectures, delivered in Washington in 1965, recorded by the BBC, and broadcast several times. A published version has been keenly awaited ever since the lectures were given, and indeed Berlin had always hoped to complete a book based upon them. But, despite extensive further work, this hope was not fulfilled, and this book is an edited transcript of his spoken words.
For Berlin, the Romantics set in train a vast unparalleled revolution in humanity's view of itself. They destroyed the traditional notions of objective truth and validity in ethics , with incalculable, all-pervasive results. As he said fo them elsewhere:'the world has never been the same since, and our politics and our morals have been deeply transformed by them. Certainly this has been the most radical, and indeed terrifying...change men's outlook in modern times'.
In these brilliant lectures Berlin surveys the myriad attempts to define Romanticism, distils its essence, traces its development from its first stirrings to its unbridled apotheosis, and shows how nits lasting legacy permeates our contemporary outlook.
“Berlin at his best: quick-minded, erudite, witty and profound and, above all, exciting. To read this book...is to feel the force of living thought coming white-hot from the forge of a superb mind”
John Banville, Irish Times
“This is their first appearance in print, and they're a treat...You hear the waves of words swelling, crashing, only to surge once more...revealing, exciting, elemental, intense. That's just what romanticism is about”
Eugen Weber, Key Reporter
“Isaiah Berlin at the height of his glory”
Michael Foot, Independent on Sunday
Iain Finlayson, The Times
“A profound, if often tantalising, contribution to an understanding of the West's culture...This is a book that would be as salutary a read for prime ministers and presidents as for those who see themselves as cultural critics”
Peter Mudford, The Times Higher Education Supplement
“In an era where humane intellectual discourse has been deconstructed, intertextualised, phallicised and generally kicked senseless, Berlin's writing shines like a beacon”
Rupert Christiansen, Spectator