Books on Berlin

including plays and an opera, and listed in chronological order of publication
 

Ryan, Alan (ed.), The Idea of Freedom: Essays in Honour of Isaiah Berlin (Oxford, 1979: Oxford University Press)

Kocis, Robert, A Critical Appraisal of Sir Isaiah Berlin’s Political Philosophy (Lewiston, NY, etc., 1989: Edwin Mellen Press)

Margalit, Avishai, and others, On the Thought of Isaiah Berlin: Papers Presented in Honour of Professor Sir Isaiah Berlin on the Occasion of his Eightieth Birthday (Jerusalem, 1990: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities); also published in Hebrew as Iyunim be-haguto shel Yeshayahu Berlin [Reflections on the Thought of Isaiah Berlin] (the translation from which into English, where relevant, is by Gabriel Piterberg)

Margalit, Edna and Avishai (eds), Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration (London, 1991: Hogarth Press; Chicago, 1991 [paperback 2001]: University of Chicago Press)

Galipeau, Claude J., Isaiah Berlin’s Liberalism (Oxford, 1994: Clarendon Press)

García Guitián, Elena, El pensamiento político de I. Berlin (Madrid, 2001: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales)

Díaz-Urmeneta Muñoz, Juan Bosco, Individuo y racionalidad moderna: una lectura de Isaiah Berlin (Seville, 1994: University of Seville)

Singh, Dinesh, Isaiah Berlin and the Idea of Freedom (New Delhi, 1994: Classical Publishing)

§Gray, John, Isaiah Berlin (London, 1995: HarperCollins; Princeton, 1996: Princeton University Press); retitled Berlin for the paperback edition, published in the Modern Masters series (London, 1995: Fontana); reissued as Isaiah Berlin: An Interpretation of His Thought, with a new introduction by the author (Princeton, 2013: Princeton University Press)

Corsi, Pietro (ed.), Isaiah Berlin: filosofo delle libertà ([Florence, 1995]: La Rivista dei Libri)

Carter, Ian, and Ricciardi, Mario (eds), L’idea di libertà (Milan, 1996: Feltrinelli): contains Italian translations of MacCallum (1972), Gray (1989), Taylor in Ryan (1979, above), Steiner (1975), Miller (1983), Oppenheim (1985), Miller (1985), Cohen in Ryan (1989, above; but translated from the version in Miller (1991))

Dalos, György, The Guest from the Future: Anna Akhmatova and Isaiah Berlin (London, 1998: Murray; New York, 2000: Farrar, Straus and Giroux) [originally published in German as Der Gast der Zukunft: Anna Achmatowa und Sir Isaiah Berlin: Eine Liebesgeschichte, trans. (from the original Hungarian) Elsbeth Zylla (Hamburg, 1996: Europäische)]; extract trans. Polish

Ignatieff, Michael, Isaiah Berlin: A Life (London, 1998: Chatto and Windus; New York, 1998: Metropolitan); trans. Japanese, Korean (with a new preface, July 2012), Portuguese, Polish (excerpt); a list of amendments to this volume is in progress

Polanowska-Sygulska, Beata, Filozofia wolnosci Isaiaha Berlina [Isaiah Berlin’s philosophy of freedom] (Kraków, 1998: Wydawnictwo Znak)

Polanowska-Sygulska, Beata, Pluralizm wartosci i jego implikacje w filozofii prawa [Value Pluralism and Its Implications for the Philosophy of Law] (Kraków, 2008: Ksiegarnia Akademicka)

Badillo O’Farrell, Pablo, and Bocardo Crespo, Enrique (eds), Isaiah Berlin: la mirada despierta de la historia (Madrid, 1999: Tecnos): includes translations of three pieces by Berlin (items 240, 241a, 244 in the bibliography on this site)

Binnie, Jean, ‘Night Visit’, radio play first broadcast 27 June 2000 by BBC Radio 4

Espada, João Carlos, Plattner, Marc F., and Wolfson, Adam (eds), Pluralism without Relativism: Remembering Isaiah Berlin (Lanham, MD, 2001: Lexington Books)

Hu, Chuansheng, Ziyou de huanxiang: Bolin sixiang yanjiu [Conceptions of Liberty: A Study of Berlin’s Thought] (Nanjing, 2001: Nanjing University Press): discusses the features of Berlin’s thought and his contribution in the context of the development of liberalism and the whole background of contemporary thought

Lilla, Mark, Ronald Dworkin and Robert B. Silvers (eds), The Legacy of Isaiah Berlin (New York, 2001: New York Review of Books; London, 2001, Granta); trans. Chinese; contents

Naiman, Anatoly, Ser (Moscow, 2001: Eksmo)

Hu Chuansheng, Guannian de liliang: yu Bolin duihua [The Power of Ideas: Dialogue with Isaiah Berlin] (Sichuan, 2002, Sichuan People’s Publishing House): the book consists of two parts; in the first part IB’s thought is introduced, in the second the idea of enlightenment in China is discussed; IB never mentioned the problems of China and Chinese thought, but Hu tries to engage in a dialogue with him through his reading of IB’s philosophy

Lassalle, José María (ed.), Isaiah Berlin: una reflexión liberal sobre el ‘otro’ (Madrid, 2002: Fundación para el Análisis y los Estudios Sociales)

Moss, Nancy P., Anna: Love in the Cold War, play about Anna Akhmatova and IB, first produced in Honolulu in 2002, then in New York in 2011; reviewed by Ekaterina Lalo in Review Fix and by Arlene McKanic in New York Cool; and again in Honolulu in 2012

Mali, Joseph, and Wokler, Robert (eds), Isaiah Berlin’s Counter-Enlightenment [Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 93 No 3] (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2003)

Marvin, Mel (music) and Jonathan Levi (libretto), The Guest from the Future, opera premiered by the Nine Circles Chamber Theatre at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, on 23 July 2004

Coles, Norman, Human Nature and Human Values: Interpreting Isaiah Berlin (Bexhill on Sea, 2004: Egerton House)

§Crowder, George, Isaiah Berlin: Liberty and Pluralism (Cambridge, 2004: Polity [Key Contemporary Thinkers series])

George Crowder here performs the almost impossible feat of tidying up Isaiah Berlin’s somewhat scattered, imprecise and inconsistent accounts of his views without oversimplification or misrepresentation. He emulates the Berlinian virtue of sympathetic identification with his subject, but without forfeiting critical distance. This exceedingly fruitful approach yields far and away the best vade mecum to Berlin’s ideas yet written. But not only has Crowder given us a masterly exposition; he also brilliantly develops some of the vaguer clues left by Berlin, adding substantially to Berlin’s intellectual legacy in a spirit entirely in keeping with his own work. It is as if an unfinished cathedral were completed by a new architect who intuited the vision of its original designer. Berlin would surely have applauded this exciting and original book, and learnt much from it.

Jinkins, Michael, Christianity, Tolerance and Pluralism: A Theological Engagement with Isaiah Berlin’s Social Theory (London/New York, 2004: Routledge)

Aarsbergen-Ligtvoet, Connie, Isaiah Berlin: A Value Pluralist and Humanist View of Human Nature and the Meaning of Life (Amsterdam/New York, 2006: Rodopi)

Burtonwood, Neil, Cultural Diversity, Liberal Pluralism, and Schools: Isaiah Berlin and Education (London, 2006: Routledge)

Crowder, George, and Henry Hardy (eds), The One and the Many: Reading Isaiah Berlin (Amherst, NY, 2007: Prometheus); minor corrections listed here

Hama Shinichiro, Berlin no Jiyuu Ron: Tagenteki Liberarizumu no Keifu [Berlin on Liberty: A Genealogy of Pluralist Liberalism] (Tokyo, 2008: Keiso Shobo): also discusses Joseph Raz, John Gray, Judith Shklar, Avishai Margalit and Michael Ignatieff, and examines the tradition of liberalism based on the concept of individual autonomy rather than on the principles of justice

Milosevich, Mira, and Julio Crespo (eds), Isaiah Berlin: un liberal en perspectiva ([Madrid,] 2008: FAES)

Piatti Morganti, Bruna, Isaiah Berlin: L’ethos in politica: una questione in-attuale (Urbino, 2008: QuattroVenti)

Hardy, Henry (ed.), The Book of Isaiah: Personal Impressions of Isaiah Berlin (Woodbridge, 2009: The Boydell Press in association with Wolfson College, Oxford); minor corrections listed here

Hardy, Henry, Kei Hiruta and Jennifer Holmes (eds), Isaiah Berlin and Wolfson College, with a foreword by Hermione Lee (Oxford, 2009: Wolfson College) [a 68-page pamphlet published for the centenary of IB’s birth]

L. Kopylov, T. Pozdnyakova and N. Popova, ‘I eto bylo tak’: Anna Akhmatova i Isaiya Berlin [‘That’s How It Was’: Anna Akhmatova and Isaiah Berlin] (St Petersburg, 2009: The Anna Akhmatova Museum at Fountain House): the dates of the 1945–6 meetings between AA and IB that IB wrote about are probably 15–16 November 1945 and 5 January 1946; this book claims that there were further visits, again lasting into the early hours, on 17–18 and either 18–19 or 19–20 November, and also a meeting on 2 January – five meetings in all. IB never referred to any such additional meetings, but the evidence cited for them is not unpersuasive. See also The Times Literary Supplement ‘Commentary’ article.

Geraldo Ramírez, Jorge (ed.), Isaiah Berlin: utopía, tragedia y pluralismo (Medellín, 2010: Fondo Editorial Universidad Eafit)

Kamimori Ryo, Isaiah Berlin: Tagenshugi no seiji tetsugaku [Isaiah Berlin: The political philosophy of pluralism] (Tokyo, 2010: Shunjusha)

Nasu Kosuke, Berlin toiu nano shisoushika ga ita: ‘Hitori no hito’ wo tooshite ‘Yononaka’ he [There Lived a Historian of Thought named Berlin: Through ‘a Person’ to ‘the World’] (Kyoto, 2010: Henshu Kobo SURE)

Badillo O'Farrell, Pablo (ed.), Filosofía de la razón plural: Isaiah Berlin entre dos siglos (Madrid, 2011: Bibliotheca Nueva)

Walicki, Andrzej, Encounters with Isaiah Berlin: Story of an Intellectual Friendship (Frankfurt am Main etc., 2011: Peter Lang); first published in Dialogue and Universalism

Dubnov, Arie M., Isaiah Berlin: The Journey of a Jewish Liberal (London, 2012: Palgrave Macmillan)

Baum, Bruce and Robert Nichols (eds), Isaiah Berlin and the Politics of Freedom: ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’ 50 Years Later (New York and London, 2013: Routledge)

Cherniss, Joshua L., A Mind and Its Time: The Development of Isaiah Berlin’s Political Thought (Oxford, 2013: Oxford University Press)

Caute, David, Isaac and Isaiah: The Covert Punishment of a Cold War Heretic (New Haven and London, 2013: Yale University Press)

Butin, Alexis, Isaiah Berlin, libéral et pluraliste (Paris, 2014: Michel Houdiard)

Della Casa, Alessandro, L’equilibrio liberale: storia, pluralismo e libertà in Isaiah Berlin [The Liberal Balance: History, Pluralism and Freedom in Isaiah Berlin] (Naples, 2014: Guida)

Liu, Dong and Xiangdong Xu (eds), Yisaiya Bolin yu dangdai zhongguo: ziyou yu duoyuan zhijian [Isaiah Berlin and Contemporary China: Between Liberalism and Pluralism] (Nanjing, 2014: Yilin Press); proceedings of a conference, ‘Isaiah Berlin and Contemporary China’, held on 10 March 2011 at Tsinghua University

Translation of Postscript

This volume is the proceedings of the ‘Isaiah Berlin and Contemporary China’ conference held in Beijing from 10 to 12 March 2011. Professor Xu and I were the initiators of this conference, held under the auspices of the Academy of Chinese Learning, Tsinghua University, and co-sponsored by Yilin Press.

The conference participants included scholars working on Isaiah Berlin from all over the world – from Tsinghua University, Peking University, Zhejiang University, Sun Yat-Sen University, Shandong University, the Chinese University of Hongkong, Academia Sinica, Flinders University, McGill University, the University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, New York University, Brown University, the University of Vermont, Tulane University and the University of Notre Dame. Moreover, scholars from Yale University who were not able to be present also submitted papers.

The conference garnered many favourable comments from the participants. ‘For me, at least,’ writes a scholar in his email to other participants, ‘it will set the gold standard for academic conferences from now on.’ Such high opinions obviously reflect the impeccable organisation and full schedule of the conference, and the well-known hospitality of the Chinese hosts. Apart from these factors, however, what impressed the participants most, I believe, was the scholars’ careful preparation and arresting arguments, and their robust discussions in the conference. After a whole year of collation, translation and editing, it is finally time to publish its proceedings. Readers will find all my words to be true.

The title of this volume has two implications. First, because they value Isaiah Berlin – an intellectual originally belonging to the Anglophone world – so highly, contemporary Chinese scholars not only read his writings meticulously and enthusiastically, but also invited Berlinian scholars from the West to come and discuss Berlin’s life and thought in this ‘foreign’ land. This event accordingly occupies a special place in Berlin studies, and in the story of his reception. For the same reason, the Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust paid special attention to this conference. Secondly, although Berlin enjoys a great posthumous reputation in the West, these well-established Berlinian scholars discovered, perhaps to their surprise, that Berlin’s thought is much more intellectually vital and stimulating in China than in the West. They were intrigued and impressed to discover that Chinese scholars had, with an enormous investment of energy, translated most of Berlin’s writings into Chinese. For this reason I believe that, after this conference, they will be enormously inspired by this creative cross-national study, which will lead them to reconsider the significance of Berlin’s writings.

The subtitle too has two meanings. On the one hand, the relationship between liberalism and pluralism is mentioned in almost all the papers presented to this conference, and this reflects the fact that any serious reader of Berlin is bound to address this issue, and to worry about the challenge presented by the conflict between the two principles: the relationship referred to in the subtitle is a knotty problem in the interpretation of Berlin’s thought. On the other hand, contemporary Chinese scholars too are involved in the liberlaism/pluralism dilemma, and strive to work out a possible solution. Moreover, they wish, by communicating with their international colleagues, to secure an endorsement of the answers they have attempted to provide. The publication of this volume serves to promote and deepen the continuing discussion by enlarging its focus beyond the conference to the general reading public.

Professor Ying of Zhejiang University expresses similar opinions in his presentation to the conference, in which he shows us how, as a contemporary Chinese student of politics, he formed his intellectual outlook, and how he came to reflect on the political rules followed in China, and in the world as a whole, on the basis of certain fundamental, essential political ideas, as a result of reading Berlin’s most outstanding essays. As readers will discover, although he has arrestingly suggested that we have reached ‘post-Berlinism’, he gives many reasons to support his argument that Berlin, who has been regarded as outdated, is still a classic thinker, as well as a starting point for Chinese intellectuals to acquire a better understanding of theories offered by competing camps in contemporary Western political philosophy. I should like to add that even those readers who might not agree with this conclusion can at least empathise with Professor Ying’s distinctive personal story of reading Berlin. It is in this sense that we can understand why he quotes the famous line, ‘Holding a walking stick while listening to the flowing river’ (Yi zhang ting jiangsheng), written by Su Shi, a Chinese poet of the Song Dynasty, to demonstrate the significance of Berlin as an intellectual walking stick for those who listen to the tide of Western political philosophy.

Finally, and with the utmost sincerity, I express my gratitude to my colleagues at Yilin Press for supporting this conference, and moreover for their enthusiasm in publishing not only Berlin’s work but also all the other intellectually original works on their list. In the long run, their persistence in cultural construction will make ineffaceable and irreplaceable contributions to the future of Chinese civilisation as a whole.

Carandini, Andrea, Paesaggio di idee: tre anni con Isaiah Berlin (Soveria Mannelli, 2015: Rubbettino)

Owens, Lewis, Like a Chemist from Canada: Shostakovich, Isaiah Berlin and Oxford, play first performed on 13 June 2015 at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells, London

Brockliss, Laurence, and Ritchie Robertson, Isaiah Berlin and the Enlightenment (Oxford, 2016: Oxford University Press); proceedings of a conference held under the same title at Wolfson College, Oxford, 20–2 March 2014

Vējš, Jānis Nameisis, (in Latvian with an English summary reproduced below) Četras esejas par Berlinu [Four Essays on Berlin] (Riga, 2017: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia); includes a Latvian translation of ’European Unity and Its Vicissitudes’

Author’s summary

The title of the book echoes Isaiah Berlin’s well-known work Four Essays on Liberty, which is familiar to readers in Latvia from the Latvian translation of 2000. Recently there has also been a sustained series of events to popularise the intellectual achievement of Berlin, in view of the fact that his birthplace is Riga – now the capital of the Republic of Latvia and a cultural centre of regional significance in the Baltic area.

The present volume is intended to offer to the academically minded Latvian readership a compact version of Berlin’s life and work by characterising him as an outstanding philosopher, historian of ideas, and social and political theorist. Accordingly, the first essay, entitled ‘Life’, offers the necessary information about Isaiah Berlin’s journey from Riga, where he was born in 1909,to Oxford in the United Kingdom, where he achieved academic fame and died in 1997.

Isaiah Berlin’s father – a successful timber merchant in Riga – was a highly esteemed member of the local Jewish community. During World War I the family went to St Petersburg (Petrograd), and after the Bolshevik coup left Russia to repatriate to Latvia – a newly independent sovereign state. In 1921 the Berlin family moved to England, where Isaiah obtained a high-quality education at St Paul’s School and Oxford University. He made a successful career there as an academic, public figure, founder of Wolfson College, and President of the British Academy (1974–8). He won several distinguished prizes of international significance.

Isaiah Berlin’s birthplace in Riga is well marked by a suitable memorial inscription attached to a beautiful art nouveau apartment building in a prestigious location. It is included in tourist routes as a significant site of architectural monuments, designed by, among others, Mikhail Eisenstein, father of the world-renowned filmmaker Sergey Eisenstein – another celebrity with Riga roots. Isaiah Berlin’s bust is at present located in the Central Reading Room of the National Library of Latvia – a recently completed, impressive structure that serves as a real monument to the vigorous cultural and intellectual life of the Latvian people today.

The second essay, ‘Philosophy’, deals with the philosophical background to Berlin’s intellectual development, starting in the 1930s. Attention is concentrated on the origin and development of British analytical philosophy, which is viewed as part of the general anti-Hegelian trend of philosophical enquiry in the leading British universities of the time. In particular, the views of G. E. Moore, A. J. Ayer and J. L. Austin are discussed at some length, so as to accentuate Berlin’s role in the general discussion of phenomenalism.

The third essay, ‘Ideas’, attempts to characterise briefly the originality of the ‘history of ideas’ approach practiced and theoretically formulated by Berlin. The essay discusses such themes as the relations between the humanities and scientific methodology, the monist/pluralist dichotomy, the role of historical enquiry, history as enlightened self-understanding, relativism, scepticism, enlightenment and counter-enlightenment. Discussion of these issues is related to Berlin’s highly original and incisive portrayal of such personalities as Alexander Herzen, Ivan Turgenev, Lev Tolstoy, Joseph de Maistre and other well-known figures of European thought. For a Latvian readership particular interest might be aroused by Berlin’s treatment of J. G. Herder and J. G. Hamann – German thinkers closely connected with spiritual developments in the Baltic German community in Riga. The essay pays attention to the nexus existing between the personal freedom of an individual and that of the nation as a social group.

The fourth essay, ‘Liberty’, is devoted to a discussion of the most celebrated theme of Berlin’s teaching (the term ‘teaching’ being used here in a specific sense, implying the overall character of his argumentation, rather than a strictly structured set of categorical statements). The essay deals with the problems of social and individual ethics by discussing such notions as value pluralism, the incommensurability of values, the human predicament and toleration.

The book draws on a selection of the existing biographical and scholarly studies of Berlin’s corpus, and undertakes to identify some of the main themes of his teaching. Berlin’s unique contribution to liberal social and political thought is discussed within the context of the British analytic tradition, in particular so-called Oxford philosophy of the mid-twentieth century, of which he ranks as one of the originators and an outstanding expositor.

This aspect – the comparatively extensive discussion of the philosophical items in the present volume – deserves mention, because, as a result of the specific circumstances of the development of political and spiritual life in Latvia during the recent (post-totalitarian) period, one feels the necessity to underscore the role of analytical methodology in strengthening liberal and democratic values both in academia and in public discussion in general.

The present volume also includes a translation into Latvian of Berlin’s essay ‘European Unity and Its Vicissitudes’, originally a lecture delivered by Berlin at an international conference on European culture in Amsterdam in 1959. It seems highly appropriate in present circumstances.

The entries are arranged in chronological order of publication/performance


§ = contains discussion of / reference to the claim that pluralism undermines liberalism’s universalist pretensions; see also Writing about Isaiah Berlin / Texts


Thanks to those who have helped and are helping me to compile this list, including Gerald Chan, Shinichiro Hama and Wang Qian