Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain by Stefan Collini

By Stefan Collini

A richly textured paintings of background and a strong contribution to modern cultural debate, Absent Minds offers the 1st full-length account of "he query of intellectuals" n twentieth-century Britain--have such figures ever existed, have they regularly been extra well-liked or influential in different places, and are they close to turning into extinct this present 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 favourite cliché that there are not any "real" intellectuals in Britain. The ebook bargains a persuasive research of the concept that of 'the highbrow' and an intensive comparative account of the way this question has been noticeable within the united states, France, and in other places in Europe. There are specified discussions of influential or revealing figures reminiscent of Julien Benda, T. S. Eliot, George Orwell, and Edward stated, in addition to trenchant opinions of present assumptions concerning the impression of specialization and superstar. all through, recognition is paid to the a number of senses of the time period "intellectuals" and to the nice range of correct genres and media during 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 tremendous, long-awaited paintings by way of a number one highbrow historian and cultural commentator, ranging around the traditional divides among educational disciplines and mixing insightful pics of people with sharp-edged cultural analysis.

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But he conceded that some of their particular political choices now looked questionable, and certainly that these had earned them a good deal of hostility: The intellectuals of the ‘thirties were by no means popular at that time [sc. 1939–40] with Members of Parliament, influential Civil Servants and Generals in authority. ⁶³ Perceptions of the 1930s intellectuals as literary Bourbons who had learned nothing and forgotten nothing continued for some time to feed a dismissive scorn towards the political naïveté and unrealism of the type in general, as well as nourishing the recurrent charge of lack of patriotism.

The History of a Word 33 Here, the word suggests those who pursue rather abstruse or specialized intellectual pursuits, as the contrast with ‘practical men’ in ‘the outside world’ makes clear, and the general burden of Hobson’s charge is that such figures do not ‘speak out’ on larger political and social matters. When a few years later E. L. Woodward was recalling his time as a student at Oxford just before the First World War, he also found the now increasingly familiar neologism useful, but understood it in a rather different way.

It is also difficult to understand quite how this could have featured in a news item in 1898, the Turks having ‘taken possession of the city’ some centuries earlier. These obscurities, one would have thought, might have set some alarm-bells ringing. If one tracks down the original passage in The Daily News, one finds that it was in fact reporting a speech given at a dinner in Paris on the previous day by General Auguste Mercier, one of Dreyfus’s earliest accusers. This might have raised a further anxiety as to whether the report was simply a literal attempt at translation rather than an example of current English.

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