By Stefan Collini
A richly textured paintings of historical past 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 continually been extra famous or influential in different places, and are they close to turning into extinct this day?
Recovering ignored or misunderstood traditions of mirrored image and debate from the overdue 19th century via to the current, Stefan Collini demanding situations the typical cliché that there are not any "real" intellectuals in Britain. The ebook deals a persuasive research of the idea that of 'the highbrow' and an in depth comparative account of ways this query has been obvious within the united states, France, and somewhere else in Europe. There are designated discussions of influential or revealing figures corresponding to Julien Benda, T. S. Eliot, George Orwell, and Edward acknowledged, in addition to trenchant opinions of present assumptions concerning the impression of specialization and star. all through, cognizance is paid to the a number of senses of the time period "intellectuals" and to the good variety of correct genres and media wherein 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 big, long-awaited paintings via a number one highbrow historian and cultural commentator, ranging around the traditional divides among educational disciplines and mixing insightful pix of people with sharp-edged cultural analysis.
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Extra resources for Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain
And the second was that ‘intellectuals’ were associated with ‘intervention’ in politics, especially on behalf of a radical or even revolutionary cause. These, it must again be emphasized, were not the only senses available, and they have not wholly determined the dominant modern usages, but they have lastingly affected the semantic ﬁeld within which those usages operate. ’ This idea of taking oneself to be ‘superior’ to others, of affectation or pretension, also remained the informing element in the chief negative use of ‘an intellectual’.
D. Charques cited the passage as the ‘earliest illustration’ of the ‘irony or equivocation that belongs to the modern meaning of the term’, and went on: ‘Clearly, the date of that remark is signiﬁcant, as signiﬁcant as its undertone 26 The Terms of the Question of derision. 1898 marks the distance of a generation from the passing of the Education Act of 1870. 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.
And as late as 1968, T. R. ’⁷³ Thirty years later, Sir Peter Hall evidently (if perhaps erroneously) believed that not much had changed when he announced in a 1999 interview: ‘I don’t want my children to be fed on a diet of dumbed-down international television. ’⁷⁴ However, linguistic change operates at several levels at once. It was particularly during the 1930s that the vocabulary of the nascent social sciences was beginning to have an impact on the idiom of the wider society, and ‘intellectuals’ was an especially favoured category in the German or (largely German-inspired) American social theory so inﬂuential at that time.