Stefan Collini's Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain PDF

By Stefan Collini

A richly textured paintings of background and a strong contribution to modern cultural debate, Absent Minds presents the 1st full-length account of "he query of intellectuals" n twentieth-century Britain--have such figures ever existed, have they regularly been extra favorite or influential somewhere else, and are they close to turning into extinct this day?

Recovering overlooked or misunderstood traditions of mirrored image and debate from the past due 19th century via to the current, Stefan Collini demanding situations the general cliché that there aren't any "real" intellectuals in Britain. The e-book deals a persuasive research of the concept that of 'the highbrow' and an in depth comparative account of ways this query has been noticeable within the united states, France, and in different places in Europe. There are precise discussions of influential or revealing figures equivalent to Julien Benda, T. S. Eliot, George Orwell, and Edward stated, in addition to trenchant reviews of present assumptions concerning the influence of specialization and star. all through, cognizance is paid to the a number of senses of the time period "intellectuals" and to the nice range of suitable genres and media by which they've got communicated their rules, from pamphlets and periodical essays to public lectures and radio talks.

Elegantly written and carefully argued, Absent Minds is a massive, long-awaited paintings via a number one highbrow historian and cultural commentator, ranging around the traditional divides among educational disciplines and mixing insightful photographs of people with sharp-edged cultural analysis.

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Sample text

Trawling through the literature on the Dreyfus Affair, I eventually discovered the original of General Mercier’s remarks: ‘At the moment when the Turkish army forced the ramparts of Constantinople, the so-called intellectuals of the capital of the Lower Empire were debating theological quibbles. ’ [‘Au moment où l’armée turque forçait les remparts de Constantinople, les soi-disant intellectuels de la capitale du Bas-Empire y discutaient sur les arguties théologiques. ’]³² The phrase was, of course, a direct jibe at the Dreyfusards, the ‘soi-disant intellectuels’, who are being accused of prattling idly at a time of grave national danger (‘self-styled’, rather than ‘so-called’, may better capture the intended scorn).

We had then, for the first time in our [sc. ³⁴ An elaborate historical theory of the development of British society begins to be surmised, all, alas, on the basis of a newspaper report of an ironic remark made in French about France. Interestingly the first edition of the dictionary contained no entry for the term ‘intelligentsia’, though if one searches under ‘intelligent’ one finds, as a noun under sense B, 1 (‘a person of intelligence’) an illustrative quotation from The Athenaeum in 1892 that should have been recognized as an attempt to translate the Russian term ‘Intelligent’ (and hence be pronounced with a hard ‘g’, not the soft ‘g’ indicated in the phonetic gloss at the head of the entry): ‘Karpov and Garin .

H. ⁵⁵ The development of the social sciences (again, more marked in the United States than in Britain) encouraged the generalization of this usage in social analysis: for instance, the original International Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences of 1930 contained a long entry on ‘intellectuals’ by Robert Michels which was largely concerned with questions of the political mobilization of the educated class. The association with Socialism no doubt also encouraged that anyway powerful tendency in British attitudes which assumed 32 The Terms of the Question that ‘doctrinaire’ (again, the foreign word for the foreign thing) positions in politics were exclusively the property of the Left.

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Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain by Stefan Collini


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