Selected corrections to the first edition of Michael Ignatieff, Isaiah Berlin: A Life

As the first biographer who used the Isaiah Berlin Papers, before they were deposited in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, where they were catalogued and foliated, and before the four-volume edition of Berlin’s letters (2004–15) had appeared, Michael Ignatieff did not have ready access to all the sources that he would have been able to use had he been starting afresh once this process had been completed; he was also under pressure to complete his task within a short time after Berlin’s death on 5 November 1997. The first edition of his biography was therefore considerably revised for its second, updated edition (2023).

In order that students of Berlin should not be misled or travel up blind alleys in the twenty-five years intervening between the two editions, a web page was established to list selected corrections of or additions to the first edition. Much of this list is preserved below, for the benefit of those still using the first edition.

The second edition incorporated all the information provided here, adding references to the Isaiah Berlin Papers and the published letters, as well as to other publications that appeared after the first edition went to press. A separate list of errors and other issues in the second edition is here.

Errors corrected in the paperback edition (2000) appear in this colour. Occasionally they are further corrected in the second edition (2023).

Page in
in 1st
For Read
xi/ix 6 Yitzka Yitzhak
1/1 1 The Albany Albany
5/5 13 Kempf Kempff
11/12 4 Eli Elkanah
12/13 16 river canal
15/18 5–4 up one of the daughters of the
Zemach Zadek
one of the granddaughters of the Zemach Zedek
17 9–8 up 13 March 1906. She was twenty-
six, he was twenty-three.
14 (old style)/27 (new style) March 1906. She was twenty-four, he was twenty-one.
19/21 1–2 Scheissemusik […] shit music Schreiemusik […] screaming music
23/25 17 Kvorost Khvorost
25/28 18 autumn of 1917 summer of 1917
27/30 17–16 up Two of her sisters, Ida […]
and Evgenia […], were
Marie’s sister Ida […] and Mendel’s sister Evgenia […] were
32/36 2 3 February 20 February
42/47 10 the spring of late
48/54 1 five- seven-
54/62 11 up Giovanezza Giovinezza
64/73 8 tight, very tight
65/74 4 dish saucer
65/75 23 in the front garden in front of the house
66/76 18 Nicholson’s Nicolson’s
68/77 2 Mill House The Mill House
69/79 12 up a state hospital in [delete]
75/86 8 up andere Farbingen anderen Farbigen
81/93 12 up his Ayer’s
90/103 18 Blaskett Blasket
92/105 8 Avenue Lane
101/115 14 informing ordering
102/116 11 Heyman Hillman
107/122 2 Grand Central Penn
120/138 5 up whole-scale wholesale
129/148 6 hare the hare
161/185 19 Marinsky Mariinsky
168/194 last arrest, trial and execution of fifteen arrest and torture of nine
177/220 8 blew up bombed
186/231 16 October September and October
199/246 14 up Die Der
202/250 11 positive and negative negative and positive
204/252 10 up BBC Radio’s the Third Programme
205/253 3–4 the ‘Paganini of the platform’ ‘a Paganini of ideas’
206/255 13 up apologia pro sua vita apologia pro vita sua
212/261 18 up America in 1940 England in 1940
14 up for the duration of the war until 1944
217/267 12 up Cry, child, cry Cry, my child, cry
218/268 15 Cocteau’s mistress [delete]
225/276 13 up 1961 1960
230/282 16 Bloom Gewirth
244/298 6 up Some Sources of Romanticism Sources of Romantic Thought
247/301 14 1950s 1940s
251/306 18/19 one of them a young colleague
268/326 5 No. 60 No. 60 (with no. 47 across the road added later for offices)
293/357 20 Chief former Chief
300/364 1 betsror bitsror hachaim
300/365 2 up minor flat major
303/367 [replace everything from this point onwards with what appears in the second edition: the notes have been so extensively revised that it is not practicable to list specific corrections]

Last updated 18 March 2023

Special thanks to Jennifer Holmes for help in compiling this list