Isaiah Berlin: Flourishing, Letters 1928-46 by Henry Hardy (Ed) - review by Allan Massie

Allan Massie

Liberal With A Punch

Isaiah Berlin: Flourishing, Letters 1928-46


Chatto & Windus 700pp £30 order from our bookshop

ISAIAH BERLIN WAS a man of great charm, intelligence, curiosity and distinction. Born in Riga in 1910, brought to England by his parents at the age of eleven, educated at St Paul's and Corpus Christi, Oxford, Fellow of All Souls, Professor of Political Thought, first Master (and indeed creator) of Wolfson College, knighted and awarded the OM, this Russian Jew became an authentic member of the British Establishment - to his own recurrent surprise. He loved England dearly and, perhaps in self-protection, practised, almost to excess, the English art of self-deprecation.

His high reputation was gained despite the fact that for most of his life he published very little. A colleague at All Souls, A L Rowse, thought him 'too soft to write', and when Berlin got the OM wrote in his diary 'and what has he written?' -Rowse as jealous

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