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About the book
  • Published: 28 November 1997
  • ISBN: 9780712673679
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $45.00

The Sense Of Reality

Studies in Ideas and their History


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Isaiah Berlin's new collection at last makes available an important body of previously unknown work by one of our leading historians of ideas, and one of the finest essayists writing in English.

Eight of the nine pieces in The Sense of Reality are published here for the first time. The range is characteristically wide: realism in history; judgement in politics; the special right of philosophers to self-expression; the history of socialism; the nature and impast of Marxism; the radical cultural revolution instigated by romanticism; the Russian notion of artistic commitment; the origins and practice of nationalism. The title essay, starting from the impossibility of recreating a bygone epoch, provides a superb centrepiece. 'All the productions of Berlin's long and distinguished career are characterised by urbanity, insight, profound scholarship and witty elegance. These traits are satisfyingly and instructively here present again. ' FINANCIAL TIMES 'They exude a generous, sympathetic and large-minded enthusiasm for all sorts of thinkers and all sorts of ideas that make them a continuous pleasure to read. ' TLS

  • Pub date: 28 November 1997
  • ISBN: 9780712673679
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $45.00

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 Sense Of Reality

“As with all Berlin's essays in the history of ideas, they exude a generous, sympathetic and large-minded enthusiasm for all sorts of thinkers and all sorts of ideas that make them a continuous pleasure to read”

- Alan Ryan, T.L.S

“Engrossingly readable”

John Gray, The Times

“A superb example of philosophy for the interested layman”

Shusha Guppy, Independent

“This volume is replete with wisdom and insight”

Matthew D’Ancona, Sunday Telegraph

“Enormously stimulating...The spell of Berlin is very much present”

John Dunn, T.H.E.S

“Berlin's style conveys an unrivalled depth of learning in prose of engaging informality. A humane light shines through every sentence”

David Miller, Independent on Sunday

“If it were possible to add to a reputation already so considerable, these essays would do it. All the productions of Berlin's long and distinguished career are characterised by urbanity, insight, profound scholarship and witty elegance. These traits are satisfyingly and instructively here present again”

A.C. Grayling, Financial Times


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