The Hedgehog And The Fox

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Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781474619714

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‘Beautifully written and suggestive’ W H Auden, NEW YORKER

‘Ingenious and subtle … exactly what good critical writing should be’ GUARDIAN

‘Delightful’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.’ This fragment of Archilochus, which gives this book its title, describes the central thesis of Isaiah Berlin’s masterly essay on Tolstoy. There have been various interpretations of Archilochus’ fragment; Isaiah Berlin has simply used it, without implying anything about the true meaning of the words, to outline a fundamental distinction that exists in mankind, between those who are fascinated by the infinite variety of things (foxes) and those who relate everything to a central all-embracing system (hedgehogs). When applied to Tolstoy, the image illuminates a paradox of his philosophy of history, and shows why he was frequently misunderstood by his contemporaries and critics. Tolstoy was by nature a fox, but he believed in being a hedgehog.

Reviews

This little book is so entertaining, as well as acute, that the reader hardly notices that it is learned too
OBSERVER
Very readable, with a lively honed down style
SUNDAY MERCURY
The most important study of Tolstoy's thought written in English for a long time
THE LISTENER
Brilliant ... searching and profound
TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
Delightful to read
SUNDAY TIMES
[Berlin] has a deep and subtle feeling for the puzzle of Tolstoy's personality, and he writes throughout ... with a wonderful eloquence
NEW YORK TIMES
Beautifully written and suggestive
W H Auden, NEW YORKER
Berlin's stunning command of the resources of scholarship, his sensitivity to literature and to character, and his eloquence as a writer give this essay the lustre of a virtuoso performance
ATLANTIC
The argument is ingenious and subtle, full of overtones - exactly what good critical writing should be
GUARDIAN