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About the book
  • Published: 15 September 2000
  • ISBN: 9780712665445
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • RRP: $39.99

The Roots Of Romanticism


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'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.

  • Pub date: 15 September 2000
  • ISBN: 9780712665445
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • RRP: $39.99

About the Author

Isaiah Berlin

Isaiah Berlin was born in Riga, now capital of Latvia, in 1909. When he was six, his family moved to Russia, and in Petrograd in 1917 Berlin witnessed both Revolutions - Social Democratic and Bolshevik. In 1921 he and his parents emigrated to England, where he was educated at St Paul's School, London, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Apart from his war service in New York, Washington, Moscow and Leningrad, he remained at Oxford thereafter - as a Fellow of All Souls, then of New College, as Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, and as founding President of Wolfson College. He also held the Presidency of the British Academy.

His published work includes Karl Marx, Russian Thinkers, Concepts and Categories, Against the Current, Personal Impressions, The Sense of Reality, The Proper Study of Mankind, The Roots of Romanticism, The Power of Ideas, Three Critics of the Enlightenment, Freedom and Its Betrayal, Liberty, The Soviet Mind and Political Ideas in the Romantic Age. As an exponent of the history of ideas he was awarded the Erasmus, Lippincott and Agnelli Prizes; he also received the Jerusalem Prize for his lifelong defence of civil liberties. He died in 1997.

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Praise for The Roots Of Romanticism

“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

“Exhilaratingly thought-provoking”

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


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