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 continually been extra renowned or influential in different places, and are they near to changing into extinct this day?

Recovering missed or misunderstood traditions of mirrored image and debate from the overdue 19th century via to the current, Stefan Collini demanding situations the widespread cliché that there aren't any "real" intellectuals in Britain. The ebook bargains a persuasive research of the concept that of 'the highbrow' and an intensive comparative account of ways this question has been noticeable within the united states, France, and in other places in Europe. There are unique discussions of influential or revealing figures similar to Julien Benda, T. S. Eliot, George Orwell, and Edward stated, in addition to trenchant evaluations of present assumptions concerning the influence 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 suitable genres and media wherein they've got communicated their rules, from pamphlets and periodical essays to public lectures and radio talks.

Elegantly written and conscientiously argued, Absent Minds is a huge, long-awaited paintings by means of a number one highbrow historian and cultural commentator, ranging around the traditional divides among educational disciplines and mixing insightful snap shots of people with sharp-edged cultural analysis.

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Intellectuals’ here picks out a subjective attitude rather than a social group or political role. Intellectuals are represented almost as the prisoners of their own commitment to analytical reasoning; it blinds them to the more intuitive or emotional truths which those not so imprisoned are able to experience in other ways. It is the old charge: the clearly clever risk being merely clever. And on this view of the world, the clever were rarely exemplars of conventional virtue, either. ⁷¹ The ironic edge to the label remained deeply ingrained, even if not always for the reason Auden suggested.

Virginia Woolf, ur-Schlegel in more than one sense, drew upon the same antithesis when, criticizing a third-rate novel in 1918, she observed: ‘the conventions of the intellectual are at least as sterile as the conventions of the bourgeois’; and in a diary entry for 1922 she reworked this contrast as a piece of self-description: ‘I was 30 The Terms of the Question struck by the bloodlessness of the philistines the other day at the Rectory [in the Sussex village where the Woolfs had their country cottage].

Intellectuals are represented almost as the prisoners of their own commitment to analytical reasoning; it blinds them to the more intuitive or emotional truths which those not so imprisoned are able to experience in other ways. It is the old charge: the clearly clever risk being merely clever. And on this view of the world, the clever were rarely exemplars of conventional virtue, either. ⁷¹ The ironic edge to the label remained deeply ingrained, even if not always for the reason Auden suggested.

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