Extraordinary Typed Letter Signed about Edmond Wilson

BERLIN, Isaiah (1909 - 1997)

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Place Published: Oxford
Date Published: 1987

Description: 3 pages (front and back) on "Headington House" stationery, 8.25 x 5.75 inches, Oxford, April 28, 1987. Written to noted Civil Rights attorney Howard N. Meyer, responding to an article that Meyer had written about Wilson and "Patriotic Gore," in small part: "...There was an element of permanent, as it were, un-critical radicalism in Wilson - hatred of establishments, suspicion of the motives of all public men, natural reaction to slogans and clarion calls and eloquence in political or national causes within the framework of the establishments of what he regarded as hopelessly bourgeois countries - he thought that all wars, certainly since Napoleon, were monstrous bloodshed of a horrible kind in the interests of groups disguised as ideals - all that he got from Marx and similar writers - this applied to both World Wars and obviously to the Civil War, and rather more plausibly to Vietnam. He obviously did not mind sheer killing as such, because that does not emerge in, for example 'To the Finland Station' - it was only towards the end of his life, partly under the influence of Solzhenitsyn and other irrefutable evidence, that he turned against the Soviet Union, and became nauseated by Stalin and everything to do with him - and his distaste even turned to the once-hallowed Lenin. I had a conversation with him in which he reminded me that I had said that he was too nice about Lenin - he agreed, and the Introduction to the second, or a later, edition of 'To the Finland Station' altered this approach...I realize, and from my knowledge of Edmund, whose memory I still revere and of whom I am deeply fond. His loss of faith in Russia, which began after his visit in the thirties, but still persisted when I first met him, was, I suppose, true of an entire generation of American leftists and British ones too; It was a marvelous mass delusion which I think, perhaps, has no parallel in history. Of course he must have been right in part about the crushing of the Southern states, the exploitation and the bullying....but this should not have extended to respect for his violent and irrational political prejudices, ferocious suspicion and desire to discredit honorable human motives, just wars, general idealism, above all, Lincoln's reputation. He simply wanted to attack icons and fetishes as such - and in the course of this said a great many untrue, unjust and silly things..." This letter contains much more fine content and is effectively an unpublished essay and critique of one of the most distinguished writers of the 20th century. Horizontal folds, tiny stains, and a paperclip impression in the top margins. Still very good condition.

Comments: Russian-British philosopher and historian of ideas, regarded as one of the leading thinkers of the twentieth century, and as the dominant liberal scholar of his generation.

Signed: Y
Binding: unbound
Language: English
Type: Autographs

Book ID: 222098


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