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In Search of Isaiah Berlin: A Literary Adventure

In Search of Isaiah Berlin: A Literary Adventure
Henry Hardy

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Isaiah Berlin was one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century - and a man who set ideas on fire. His defence of individual liberty and cultural variety was passionate and persuasive, and inspired a generation. His ideas - especially his reasoned rejection of political despotism and all forms of excessive certainty - have become even more prescient and vital today.

But Berlin himself published very little of his work and needed an intellectual impresario. In Search of Isaiah Berlin tells the compelling story of a decades-long collaboration between Berlin and his principal editor, Henry Hardy, who made it his vocation to bring Berlin's huge body of writings into print. Hardy discovered that Berlin had written far more than people realised, most of it unknown. As he describes his struggles with Berlin, who was almost on principle reluctant to have his work published, an intimate and revealing picture of the self-deprecating philosopher emerges. This is a unique portrait of a man who gave us a new way of thinking about the human predicament, and whose work had for most of his life remained largely hidden from view.

Author Info

Henry Hardy is a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, Isaiah Berlin's principal editor, and one of his literary trustees. He began editing Berlin in the mid-1970s as a graduate student at Wolfson. Previously an editor at OUP, Hardy has been working full time on Berlin since 1990 and has now edited or co-edited 18 of his books, as well as a four-volume edition of his letters - the last volume of which (Affirming: Letters 1975-1997, co-edited with Mark Pottle) was published in September 2015 by Chatto. He is also the editor of The Book of Isaiah: Personal Impressions of Isaiah Berlin (Boydell, 2009).


"What emerges most vividly from this very attractive and beautifully written book is the depth of the friendship that existed between the author and Isaiah Berlin. We are now fortunate to have a first-hand account of how their wonderful relationship began and blossomed and of the rich and permanent fruit it bore in the shape of Berlin's scrupulously produced works."
Johnny Lyons, How to Think Like a Fox: the central Ideas of Isaiah Berlin, "Henry Hardy's special vantage point as Berlin's longstanding editor makes In Search of Isaiah Berlin a peculiarly authentic and vivid picture of the twentieth century's greatest liberal thinker. Recounting the decades in which he was acquainted with Berlin and collaborated with him in publishing his writings, Hardy preserves for later generations his encounter with a unique, complex and captivating personality, which will be immediately recognisable to those who knew the man. Going on to explore and critically assess Berlin's thought, he has written a book that will be of intense and enduring interest to anyone concerned with twentieth-century ideas and the future of liberalism as a living philosophy."
John Gray, Emeritus Professor of European Thought, London School of Economics

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781788312448
Publication Date: 29 Sep 2018
Number of Pages: 288
Height: 226
Width: 155
Illustrations: 14 bw integrated, 10 bw in 8pp plates

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