By Stefan Collini

A richly textured paintings of heritage 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 regularly been extra sought after or influential in other places, and are they close to changing into extinct at the present time?

Recovering missed 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 aren't any "real" intellectuals in Britain. The booklet bargains a persuasive research of the concept that of 'the highbrow' and an in depth comparative account of the way this query has been obvious within the united states, France, and somewhere else in Europe. There are special discussions of influential or revealing figures similar to Julien Benda, T. S. Eliot, George Orwell, and Edward acknowledged, in addition to trenchant evaluations of present assumptions concerning the effect of specialization and superstar. all through, awareness is paid to the a number of senses of the time period "intellectuals" and to the good range of proper genres and media during which 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 big, 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 photos of people with sharp-edged cultural analysis.

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It is also difficult to understand quite how this could have featured in a news item in 1898, the Turks having ‘taken possession of the city’ some centuries earlier. These obscurities, one would have thought, might have set some alarm-bells ringing. If one tracks down the original passage in The Daily News, one finds that it was in fact reporting a speech given at a dinner in Paris on the previous day by General Auguste Mercier, one of Dreyfus’s earliest accusers. This might have raised a further anxiety as to whether the report was simply a literal attempt at translation rather than an example of current English.

This fact, a social fact of considerable interest in itself, by no means implies that the term now bears a single unambiguous sense: it remains true, as I have already insisted, that the layers of meaning and association deposited by the earlier evolution of the word are still available in certain contexts.

5 Sect. I). This was underlined by the entry for the term in Raymond Williams’s (admittedly highly impressionistic) survey Keywords, published in 1976, which concluded that up to at least the middle of the twentieth century ‘unfavourable uses of “intellectuals” . . ³⁸ IV Where recent and contemporary usage is concerned, dictionaries have a nearimpossible task: it is like trying to discriminate faces from a series of snapshots taken of a group of very similar-looking actors at various stages of the make-up process.

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Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain by Stefan Collini

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