Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain

Paperback | July 31, 2007

byStefan ColliniAs told byStefan Collini

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A richly textured work of history and a powerful contribution to contemporary cultural debate, Absent Minds provides the first full-length account of 'the question of intellectuals' in twentieth-century Britain - have such figures ever existed, have they always been more prominent orinfluential elsewhere, and are they on the point of becoming extinct today? Recovering neglected or misunderstood traditions of reflection and debate from the late nineteenth century through to the present, Stefan Collini challenges the familiar cliche that there are no 'real' intellectuals in Britain. The book offers a persuasive analysis of the concept of 'theintellectual' and an extensive comparative account of how this question has been seen in the USA, France, and elsewhere in Europe. There are detailed discussions of influential or revealing figures such as Julien Benda, T. S. Eliot, George Orwell, and Edward Said, as well as trenchant critiques ofcurrent assumptions about the impact of specialization and celebrity. Throughout, attention is paid to the multiple senses of the term 'intellectuals' and to the great diversity of relevant genres and media through which they have communicated their ideas, from pamphlets and periodical essays topublic lectures and radio talks. Elegantly written and rigorously argued, Absent Minds is a major, long-awaited work by a leading intellectual historian and cultural commentator, ranging across the conventional divides between academic disciplines and combining insightful portraits of individuals with sharp-edged cultural analysis.

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A richly textured work of history and a powerful contribution to contemporary cultural debate, Absent Minds provides the first full-length account of 'the question of intellectuals' in twentieth-century Britain - have such figures ever existed, have they always been more prominent orinfluential elsewhere, and are they on the point of b...

Stefan Collini is Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Clare Hall. A frequent contributor to The Times Literary Supplement, The London Review of Books, and other periodicals both in Britain and the USA, his previous books include Public Moralists (1991), Matthew Arnold...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:544 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 1.08 inPublished:July 31, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199216657

ISBN - 13:9780199216659

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Question of IntellectualsPart One: The Terms of the Question1. The History of a Word2. A Matter of DefinitionPart Two: Fonder Hearts3. Anglo-Saxon Attitudes4. Of Light and Leading5. Highbrows and Other Aliens6. The Long 1950s I: Happy Families7. The Long 1950s II: Brave Causes8. From New Left to Old ChestnutPart Three: Comparative Perspectives9. In their Natonal Habitat10. Greener Grass: Letters from America11. The Peculiarities of the French12. The Translation of the ClerksPart Four: Some Versions of Denial13. Clerisy or Undesirables: T. S. Eliot14. Professional Cackling: R. G. Collingwood15. Other People: George Orwell16. Nothing to Say: A. J. P. Taylor17. No True Answers: A. J. AyerPart Five: Repeat Performances18. Outsider Studies: The Glamour of Dissent19. Media Studies: A Discourse of General Ideas20. Long Views I: Specialization and its Discontents21. Long Views II: From Authority to Celebrity?Epilogue: No Elsewhere

Editorial Reviews

`...[a] magisterial study...Collini is a skilled portraitist and provides us with some judicious, vividly detailed cameos of such figures as Collingwood, T S Eliot, Orwell, A J P Taylor and Freddie Ayer...this magnificently perceptive survey of the British intellectual caste, with a handful ofFrench and American thinkers thrown in for good measure, will prove hard to outstrip as the definitive account of its subject. ,,,It is a stylish, finely analytical study... his literary style combines journalism with erudition, in the best manner of the tradition he investigates... it is a superbdistillation of several decades of research and reflection.... this magnificently perceptive survey of the British intellectual caste, with a handful of French and American thinkers thrown in for good measure, will prove hard to outstrip as the definitive account of its subject.'Terry Eagleton, New Statesman