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Encounters with Isaiah Berlin

Story of an Intellectual Friendship

Series:

Andrzej Walicki

The volume contains Isaiah Berlin’s letters to his Polish friend, Andrzej Walicki, and Walicki’s detailed account of Berlin’s role in his life. Berlin actively promoted Walicki’s books on Russian intellectual history not only because of his own interest in the subject. Above all he wanted to promote Russian intellectual history as a separate, internationally recognized field of study and, therefore, warmly welcomed Walicki’s firm intention to study it in a systematic way, with the aim of providing a comprehensive synthesis of all important currents in pre-Revolutionary Russian thought. Already at their meeting Berlin discovered in Walicki a promising candidate to help him in laying foundations for Russian intellectual history as a legitimate part of the universal history of ideas; as a discipline rewarding in itself and particularly relevant for rediscovering the great traditions of the Russian intelligentsia and setting them against the stifling dogmas of Soviet totalitarianism.

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Editor’s Preface 7

Extract

Editor’s Preface The present volume contains Isaiah Berlin’s letters to his Polish friend, Andrzej Walicki, and Walicki’s detailed account of Berlin’s role in his life – a moving story of Berlin’s unfailing moral and intellectual support for Walicki’s work, as well as his repeated effort to assist the younger scholar for behind “the Iron Cur- tain” in his academic career in the West. Berlin actively promoted Walicki’s books on Russian intellectual history not only because of his own interest in the subject. He wanted above all to promote Russian intellectual history as a separate, internationally recognized field of study and, therefore, warmly welcomed Walicki’s devotion to this field, his firm intention to study it in a systematic way, with the aim of providing a comprehensive synthesis of all important currents in pre-Revolutionary Russian thought. He was impressed by Walicki’s enthusiasm for the subject and the sense of mission with witch he endowed his work. Already at his first meeting with Walicki – which took place at All Souls College in Ox- ford at the beginning 1960 – he discovered in the young Polish scholar a promis- ing candidate to help him in laying foundations for Russian intellectual history as a legitimate part of the universal history of ideas; as a discipline rewarding in it- self and, at the same time, particularly relevant for the noble cause of rediscover- ing the great traditions of the Russian intelligentsia and setting them against the stifling dogmas of Soviet totalitarianism. In few years, especially after Walicki’s visiting...

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