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Encounters with Isaiah Berlin

Story of an Intellectual Friendship


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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Isaiah Berlin Letters to Andrzej Walicki 1962-1996 55


Isaiah Berlin Letters to Andrzej Walicki 1962-1996 Acknowledgment I wish to thank Mr. Henry Hardy, Berlin’s editor and one of his literary trustees, for his permission to publish Berlin’s letters and for his invaluable help in deci- phering Berlin’s illegible handwriting. Andrzej Walicki University of Notre Dame March 2005 *** Headington House Old High Street, Headington Oxford 13 March 1962 Dear Walicki, I am terribly guilty before you for I should certainly have replied to your original letter earlier. I did receive it—your Christmas letter—and enjoyed read- ing it very much indeed. It arrived while I was away and I only saw it towards the end of January, but that does not really absolve me from responsibility. The posts are bad—especially after the strike of postmen we had here—and you might well have wondered whether it reached me. Now I have your second letter and article on Chernyshevsky,1 I have not read it yet, but hasten to answer you before I do so. If I have a moment, I shall read it and add some remarks on it to this letter. Or may be not. Perhaps personal letters should remain personal, academic ones academic. Although on the whole I think not. 1 A. Walicki, “Antropologicheskii materialism Nikolaia Chernyshevskogo”, in the foreign lan- guage issue of Studia Filozoficzne, 1961. The Polish original of the article was published in Studia Filozoficzne, no. 4, 1959. Isaiah Berlin Letters to Andrzej Walicki 1962-1996 56 Here, of course, nothing has altered:...

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