Letters 1946-1960Book - 2009
"People are my landscape," Isaiah Berlin liked to say, and nowhere is the truth of this observation more evident than in his letters. This second volume of Berlin’s letters takes up the story when, after war service in the U.S., he returns to life as an Oxford don. Against the background of post-war austerity, the letters chart years of academic frustration and self-doubt, the intellectual explosion when he moves from philosophy to the history of ideas, his growing national fame as broadcaster and lecturer, the publication of some of his best-known works, his election to a professorship, and his reaction to knighthood. Berlin’s visits to American universities, where he sees McCarthyism at work, and his journeys eastwardto Europe, Palestine (and later Israel), and the Soviet Unioninspire acute and often very funny portraits. These are the years, too, of momentous developments in his private life: the bachelor don’s loss of sexual innocence, the emotional turmoil of his father’s death, his courtship of a married woman, and his transformation into husband and stepfather.