Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain by Stefan Collini

By Stefan Collini

A richly textured paintings of historical past 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 continuously been extra famous or influential somewhere else, 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 generic cliché that there are not any "real" intellectuals in Britain. The e-book bargains a persuasive research of the idea that of 'the highbrow' and an in depth comparative account of the way this query has been visible within the united states, France, and in different places in Europe. There are targeted discussions of influential or revealing figures corresponding to Julien Benda, T. S. Eliot, George Orwell, and Edward acknowledged, in addition to trenchant reviews of present assumptions in regards to the influence of specialization and famous person. all through, recognition is paid to the a number of senses of the time period "intellectuals" and to the good range of appropriate genres and media during which they've got communicated their principles, from pamphlets and periodical essays to public lectures and radio talks.

Elegantly written and carefully argued, Absent Minds is an immense, 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 pix of people with sharp-edged cultural analysis.

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For intellectuals the materialist standpoint is the obvious one and the easiest. The second is harder, but I hold that it is the most satisfactory, especially when one comes up against injustice, birth and death. But there is no argument. ⁷⁰ ‘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.

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.

Although this appears to be offered as a gloss on the adjective, it is clearly meant to be recording a relatively new usage, and uses of the noun in the first two decades of the century commonly reflected this core meaning. Works of linguistic reference continued to register (some of ) these complexities of meaning and social attitude. Discussing ‘intellectual’ as an adjective, the first edition of Fowler’s Modern English Usage in 1926 observed: ‘An intellectual person is one in whom the part played by the mind as distinguished from the emotions and perceptions is greater than in the average man.

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