April 10, 2006

Review...

...of latest book from leading British historian Michael Burleigh, via Amy Welborn:
Describing his own perspective, Burleigh says he has been as influenced by literature as anything else; and thinks the arts have a great deal to teach us, but are often overlooked. " I am writing about the history of Europe, but one that has been shaped, molded and defined by literary giants. These men understood the world and human psychology better than most of their contemporaries, and so it is to them we must go if we want to gather an accurate picture of the times they lived in. Personally, I’ve been very influenced by British poets--Shakespeare, Dryden, Pope, Byron, Tennyson and T.S. Eliot; the great Russian novelists like Dostoyevsky, but also the liberal and conservative philosophers Berdayev and Semyon Frank, down to Solzhenitsyn. These luminaries, together with contemporary artists, like the novelists Michel Houellebecq and V.S. Naipaul, have more to say about our current predicament than most sociology departments ever could." Various conservative thinkers, notably Edmund Burke, the great foe of the French Revolution, and the (recently deceased) pundit Maurice Cowling, have also had an impact upon Burleigh’s formation. The seminal books of historian Norman Cohn, the political scientist Eric Voegelin and the eminent Catholic historian Christopher Dawson, have registered deeply, too.

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