Isaiah Berlin

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Sir Isaiah Berlin (1983)

Sir Isaiah Berlin (born June 6, 1909 in Riga , Russian Empire ; died November 5, 1997 in Oxford ) was a Russian-British political philosopher and historian of ideas of Jewish descent.

Since the middle of the 20th century, Berlin had become known primarily for its distinction between negative and positive freedom . Since the 1980s and 1990s, interest in him has focused primarily on his concept of value pluralism in relation to liberalism . Together with the American philosopher John Rawls , he was the most influential thinker of liberalism after the Second World War .

Berlin was shaped by the Russian February Revolution and the October Revolution , both of which he witnessed in Petrograd : they established his deep skepticism against violence and dogmatic idealism as a means of achieving political goals. A later visit to Leningrad in 1945 convinced him of the inhumanity of the Soviet system . Intellectually he was shaped by the logical empiricism ( Alfred Jules Ayer ) that prevailed in Oxford in his youth and was influenced by the Vienna Circle , from which he soon turned away. Thinkers he often referred to were Alexander Herzen , John Stuart Mill, and Immanuel Kant . Berlin dealt in detail with the often romantically influenced opponents of the Enlightenment , whose mostly existing monism he rejected; however, he valued them - counting themselves more to the Enlightenment - as important critics of weak points of the Enlightenment doctrine.


Riga, Petrograd, Riga

Theater promenade in Riga around 1900

Berlin was born as the son of a rich family of timber merchants in what was then the Russian city of Riga . He was an only child who was born when his parents had already received medical reports that they could no longer have children. He himself said he was indulged in uninhibited childhood. Due to their economic importance, the family was exempt from all discriminatory laws to which Jews were subjected in Tsarist Russia. The predominant colloquial language in his parents' house was Russian; But German was also spoken.

When Berlin was five years old, the First World War broke out. The situation for the Jews in Riga became increasingly difficult. They orientated themselves culturally towards Germany, but were Russian citizens. When a large part of the wood stored in Berlin's camp was burned, Mendel accused the German owner of the camp site of sabotage. The German immediately reported Mendel to Berlin for insurance fraud: Berlin had set the camp on fire itself. The family left the city also because of the approaching front and moved via detours to Petrograd .

In what was then the Russian capital, Berlin experienced the February and October revolutions . Although his father's company survived the upheaval economically well and Mendel Berlin also became an employee in wood procurement for the Russian railroad, frequent visits by the secret police were the order of the day. According to Berlin, it took his father another year after he moved to England so as not to peek fearfully out of the window at the sound of a vehicle stopping near the house and to make sure that it was not part of the secret police.

The Berliners moved back to Riga, where they felt safer from persecution in the now independent Latvia. There, however, they were victims of anti-Semitic harassment by individual administrative authorities. On the way to Riga, the Berliners had to pay for every administrative act that ethnic Latvians were naturally allowed to do with bribes. Eventually they decided to move to London , where Mendel Berlin had extensive pre-war business connections.

Berlin did not attend school regularly in Russia. Until the move to England , it was largely formed through intensive use of the libraries of parents and relatives.

London and Oxford

In 1919 the family arrived in London. Due to his business contacts in London, Mendel Berlin had access to funds in the country and was able to rebuild his business in a short time. Isaiah identified with the values ​​of British society. For him, Great Britain became a symbol of civilization and tolerance.

He attended the time-honored St Paul's School (London) and began studying the humanities at Corpus Christi College in Oxford , which included the so-called Greats (ancient languages, ancient history and philosophy). After graduating, he also completed the political science-oriented course in Philosophy, Politics and Economics . After being a tutor at New College (Oxford) , he became the first Jewish Fellow of All Souls College at Oxford University in 1932 . At that time only three Jews were working at Oxford University. This caused a stir within the British Jewish community. He then had regular contact with the social elite of the community. Immediately after his appointment, Baron Rothschild invited him for a weekend.

His first publication was a book on the political and philosophical ideas of Karl Marx . It also contained biographical elements. Received positively, but without great enthusiasm, even the communist daily worker attested that it was written more knowledgeably than the usual bourgeois slander. The work was to remain the only monograph that Berlin ever published.

New York and Washington, DC

On July 9, 1940, Berlin went on a boat trip with Guy Burgess to the USA, from there to the British Embassy in Moscow. Burgess was working at the time - which Berlin did not know - as one of the Cambridge Five as a Soviet spy. Burgess wanted to get to Moscow as a companion from Berlin unobtrusively. However, the plan was ill-prepared; the British embassy in Moscow neither knew nor approved of Berlin's arrival. For Berlin, the end of the journey was reached in New York City . The beginning of the Battle of Britain surprised him there . If he had actually wanted to go to Moscow in order to be able to contribute to the fight against Germany there, he suddenly found himself isolated in safe America, while bombs fell on his homeland.

At first he wanted to refuse an offer on behalf of the British Ministry of Information to evaluate the US newspapers, but finally accepted it - after he had returned home from October 1940 to January 1941 - so that he would not have to see himself as a coward.

From Washington, Berlin wrote reports on the political mood in the USA for the British embassy, ​​which reached as far as Winston Churchill . The unusually knowledgeable reports made Berlin's name known throughout the British government. Because of his talent for conversation and his affinity for parties and social events, Berlin was probably the best-informed Brit of the time about gossip and informal relationships in the US capital. He wrote his reports in two versions: an official one, which went through the official channels, and an unofficial one, with the more piquant details, which were circulated through friends in London undercover.

Public Notoriety: Churchill's Confusion

He became known to a wider public by chance. During the war, the American composer Irving Berlin , the author of the popular song White Christmas , stayed in London for a while. Winston Churchill, who mistook Irving for Isaiah, mistakenly invited the composer to dinner. During dinner, Irving Berlin was very confused by the detailed questions Churchill asked him about US domestic policy, while he was amazed by the vague and vague responses from his guest. Even when the American announced how he would vote in the next US election, none of those present discovered the misunderstanding; Churchill only mumbled something about the good Anglo-American relationship, according to which a British Oxford professor himself is now allowed to vote in the USA. The mix-up was only cleared up after dinner. The story made its way into the British newspapers in 1949, where it was happily published. The name Isaiah Berlin became known to the British public for the first time.

Moscow and Leningrad

Berlin had always been concerned with Russian literature and the intellectual currents in the country of its origin. Immediately after his arrival, in keeping with his temperament, he went to a reception at the British embassy, ​​where he met Sergei Eisenstein . He often went to the theater and was fascinated by the conversations and experiences he had there. He spoke of "emotions and expressions that I have long forgotten that they even exist". In particular, in Russia he met the poets Boris Pasternak in Moscow and Anna Akhmatova in Leningrad. He saw them both at the physical misery in which they lived and at their suffering from the narrowness and mental rigidity of the Stalinist system. Both had lost close friends in the previous decades - in Akhmatova's case, the men she loved - as a result of the purge policy, but both maintained their dignity with great effort and thus became symbols of resistance in the Soviet Union. The meetings and discussions with them had a profound impact on Berlin and were one of the main reasons for its rejection of the Soviet Union and totalitarian systems in general. The rather small and plump man was famous for his empathy and conversational skills. Within a short period of time, he acquired a large and impressive circle of friends in every place he was. At this time Berlin was officially First Secretary of the British Embassy in Moscow .

Leningrad: meeting with Anna Akhmatova

According to his own admission, Berlin traveled to Leningrad to refresh its childhood memories, but mostly because there was a larger selection of classic Russian literature at cheaper prices there at the time. The literary scene itself was already isolated by the Iron Curtain . Even recognized experts like Berlin and his correspondent Maurice Bowra could only speculate about whether individual authors were still alive, let alone whether and what they wrote. Berlin made contact with Anna Akhmatova through his new acquaintance with the literary critic Orlow in a bookshop on Newski Prospect : he really only wanted to know whether she was still alive and was promptly invited.

Against the backdrop of a half-ruined palace, in which Akhmatova lived in a room in poverty, a rather small and plump, almost virile 34-year-old "virgin" met a 57-year-old who was one of the most feared femme fatales in Russia in her youth was; their relationship life occupied the entire rumor mill in the metropolis of Saint Petersburg. The meeting lasted only one night, but shaped both lives.


The years between 1955 and 1962 were the most productive of Berlin's academic life. During this time he wrote most of his later published texts. His inaugural lecture as Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory on Negative Freedom and Positive Freedom would prove to be groundbreaking.

The Russian-Baltic Jew was considered the epitome of the British intellectual in Oxford. Contemporaries describe his knowledge as encyclopedic and extremely versatile. Queues of students often formed in front of the lecture halls where he was reading to hear him speak. In his conversation, he was considered witty, subtle, and extremely lively. His very quick speaking style was downright notorious, or as the Conservative MP for Oxford and temporary Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford Christopher Montague Woodhouse put it in 1982: “He was known as the only man in Oxford who could pronounce 'epistemological' as one syllable . ” (Eng: "He was known as the only person in Oxford who could pronounce epistemologically in a single syllable.") The aura of the intellectual surrounded him, the Times journalist Richard Morrison wrote in 2002 looking back: "As a schoolboy in NW3, I would be sent on cross-country runs over Hampstead Heath, where I might encounter Michael Foot walking his dog or Isaiah Berlin walking his brain. " (German: "As a schoolboy in the [London district] NW3 I had to cross-country runs across Hampstead Heath. There I was able to meet the British politician Michael Foot , who ran his dog, or Isaiah Berlin, who ran his brain.") Fritz Stern recalls a meeting with Berlin in Jerusalem in 1979: “Isaiah Berlin asked me to come to his hotel and continue our conversations there. Isaiah was a miracle: the clarity and speed with which he thought and spoke, the bubbling abundance of his ideas, the aperçus about human and historical weaknesses! Talking to him was like drinking champagne. "

On July 16, 1957, Berlin was ennobled as a Knight Bachelor ("Sir"). He later founded Wolfson College , Oxford; He was one of the few philosophers of the 20th century who managed to anchor their philosophy in an academic institution. In 1959 Berlin was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . In 1971 he was awarded the Order of Merit .

Late academic recognition: books

Although a professor at Oxford and known to many Britons as a political philosopher through lectures on BBC Radio 4 , his fame in the academic sciences began late.

Berlin had published throughout its academic life, but its articles were distributed in dozens of journals, commemorative publications, collections of articles, conference reports, etc. or were only available as unpublished lecture and lecture manuscripts. In addition to his Marx monograph, only his book on Vico and Herder and the groundbreaking Four Essays on Liberty existed at that time . For the most part, they had already disappeared from the archives during Berlin's lifetime, and even Berlin could no longer remember many of his texts in the 1970s, let alone where they were published. Even academic circles knew him mainly from the radio or described him as a salon virtuoso without scientific achievements. That didn't change until 1974 when Henry Hardy , a graduate of Wolfson College, turned to Berlin. He suggested collecting his texts and republishing them in book form. He collected Berlin's scattered essays, unfinished manuscripts and lecture notes. Only then did science recognize him as one of the most important political philosophers of the 20th century.

Berlin, which often cited uncleanly and shied away from the hard work of a publication, ended up with a methodical, often pedantic, editor who tirelessly rummaged through archives to check even the most remote quotation. In the course of their 23-year collaboration, numerous books were published, and Hardy had also compiled a bibliography with over 100 articles in a short time. For many, probably also Berlin itself, the common thread of his work became just as clear for the first time as his unique position through his historical, political and moral investigations, which opposed the specialization of the scientific community. From 1974 to 1978 he was President of the British Academy , of which he had been a member since 1957.

In the late 1970s, he was Britain's best-known intellectual. He was regularly invited by the Queen of England to Buckingham Palace or by Margaret Thatcher to Downing Street whenever an Israeli guest was present or someone was honored for his intellectual achievements. He also met Mikhail Gorbachev there . In 1983 he was awarded the Erasmus Prize for services to European culture (100,000 Dutch guilders ).

In 1988, when his imminent death was foreseeable, he traveled again to Moscow and Saint Petersburg. He also visited the Fountain House, the place where he met Anna Akhmatova. After his death, memorial services were held in Oxford , London , Washington DC and Jerusalem .

In addition to its content, Berlin was also known for its lively and compassionate, but always skeptical style. Even with people whose achievements he evidently admired, he was able to reveal the dark spots in the work, the unfinished or the limitations of the horizon.


Alexander Herzen, the thinker with whom Berlin identified most closely

Berlin left behind a diverse work. In addition to extensive treatises on Russian literary and intellectual life, he was best known as a political theorist. He wrote extensive treatises on many of the classics of political thought. He remained true to the moral pluralism that he himself had always postulated and which, in his opinion, permeated all human actions and human experience. The thinker to whom he was probably most intellectually attracted was the Russian liberal and socialist Alexander Herzen .

The two central themes of his work were freedom and pluralism of values. The extent to which these two approaches contradict each other in Berlin's work or are dependent on each other is still a topic of academic debate today. In both points, however, he emphasized the options and freedom of the individual over the demands of society and the state (freedom) or the primacy of the self-determined individual over a theory or idea (pluralism).

Other theoretical problems he dealt with were, on the one hand, the end-means problem in politics, and on the other hand, nationalism. He warned against making the end the only decisive point of political consideration, since its attainment is by its very nature uncertain and history shows that it does not proceed according to the plan of an individual or a movement; the consequences of the means used, however, would in any case occur and often enough bring irreversible suffering.

Berlin, which itself leaned towards moderate Zionism , recognized nationalism and national identification as important and necessary means of politics. For him, in practical politics, emotions took precedence over ideas, as the former are much more effective. While he saw the potentially destructive power of nationalism, for him it was part of the legacy of the Enlightenment, which in practice guided people to collective action aimed at the common good.

Berlin as a historian of ideas: Enlightenment and value pluralism

"The fox knows a lot of different things ..."

Berlin's later work focuses on his approach to value pluralism: conveyed primarily in his writings on the history of ideas, Berlin considers certain human values ​​such as freedom, equality, justice, compassion, fairness, the search for beauty or truth to be incompatible with one another or incommensurable and often enough are in direct contradiction to each other. In contrast to relativism , however, it assumes that there are certain universal values ​​that are the same for all people. In contrast to monistic philosophical systems, however, he regards it as impossible to order or summarize these values ​​in general. Which value should be preferred in the event of a conflict depends too much on the specific situation and the people involved for a general statement to be made about it.

"... but the hedgehog is only a big one."

His distinction between hedgehogs and foxes made by the theorists in an essay on Lev Tolstoy became particularly well known . He took the distinction from a work by the ancient Greek poet Archilochus , of which the following fragment has been passed down: The fox knows many different things, but the hedgehog only knows one big one . According to Berlin's view, the hedgehogs tried to develop an all-encompassing system of human actions, history and moral values. You have one system less or more coherent or articulate, in terms of which they understand, think and feel - a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance (dt .: "Ein System, more or less coherent, in the terms of which they understand, think and feel - a single universal organizational principle, in the terms of which everything they are and say has significance. ”) The foxes, on the other hand, tended to see diversity everywhere: [T. ] hose who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, [...] related by no moral or aesthetic principle; these last lead lives, perform acts, and entertain ideas that are centrifugal rather than centripetal, their thought is scattered or diffused, moving on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects ... (German: " [They are] those who pursue many goals, often unrelated or even contradicting, [...] linked by no moral or aesthetic principle; they live, act and play with ideas that are more centrifugal than centripetal; theirs Thoughts are scattered and rambling, move on many levels, absorb the essence of a multitude of experiences and objects. ”) Typical hedgehogs for Berlin are, for example, Plato , Pascal , Hegel , Dostoevsky , Nietzsche or Proust , while foxes are Shakespeare and Herodotus , Aristotle , Erasmus of Rotterdam , Goethe , Pushkin or Joyce . The classification was taken up by Michael Walzer , Jim Collins and Philip Tetlock , among others . Timo Meynhardt uses the metaphor to differentiate between different thinking styles in managers.

Berlin's stance on counter-enlightenment is ambivalent. He sees himself clearly on the side of the Enlightenment , who brought important human developments. On the other hand, he emphasizes on almost forgotten thinkers of Romanticism and Counter-Enlightenment their justified criticism of the Enlightenment and their references to the later undesirable developments that it brought with it.

In his early work these thoughts are often only rudimentary. The essay Some Procrustations on Aristotle , which was still written as a student, contains initial demands for a pluralistic approach, even if only in art and literary criticism. In the Karl Marx monograph he criticizes the monistic, non-pluralistic approach in detail without presenting a counter-model. Over the next few years, thoughts and ideas on the subject can be found in his lecture notes. In his best-known essay Two Concepts of Liberty , the distinction is not yet to be found in the draft, but in the actual speech, while he continues to expand the concept in his later works on the history of ideas. He gives the clearest and most concise summary of the approach in his speech on the occasion of the Giovanni Agnelli Prize in 1988, published as The Pursuit of the Ideal .

Berlin's theory of freedom

At the center of his analysis of freedom is the famous but also heavily controversial distinction between the concept of "negative freedom" and that of "positive freedom". In German, this distinction is often reformulated as the difference between freedom from (a compulsion from outside) and freedom to (a self-determined existence). This is a formulation that was also used by Friedrich Nietzsche and Georg Simmel and can ultimately be traced back to Benjamin Constant and his essay on the freedom of the ancients compared to that of the present day . The distinction essentially corresponds to Berlin's understanding of philosophical ideas. In particular, Berlin ascribes a manipulative power to those ideas that promise a single truth, so that in the case of a clear definition of freedom as self-realization, the individual can be influenced in the definition of his or her wishes and, as a result, an unfree society emerges. Berlin sees classical liberalism up to John Stuart Mill as being mainly concerned with negative freedom. Only then did a turn towards positive freedoms begin, the attempted realization of which after Berlin can have illiberal consequences. A critical examination of the distinction between "negative" and "positive freedom" can be found among others in Charles Taylor .

This corresponds to a systematic and constant confusion of the liberal constitutional principle and the principle of democracy . This has not only theoretical, but also practical consequences: the democratization of all areas of life will by no means automatically or under all circumstances satisfy the desire for more freedom; the autonomy of the individual is sacrificed to the democratic community with consequences that restrict freedom for the individual.


Berlin has received numerous honorary degrees , including from Harvard University , the Yale University , the University of Oxford , the University of Cambridge , the University of Athens , the University of Bologna , the University of Toronto . In 1979 he received the Jerusalem Prize for the freedom of the individual in society , in 1983 he was one of the recipients of the Erasmus Prize and in 1988 he won the Agnelli Prize for contributions to the ethical understanding of advanced societies. In 1966 he was accepted as an honorary foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters . In 1975 he became an elected member of the American Philosophical Society .

Works (English, German translations)

  • Karl Marx: His Life and Environment. Thornton Butterworth, 1939. 4th ed., 1978, Oxford University Press . ISBN 0-19-510326-2 .
    • German edition: Karl Marx: His life and work [sic!] . Translated from the English by Curt Meyer-Clason . Piper Collection, 1959
  • Vico and Herder: Two Studies in the History of Ideas. Chatto & Windus, 1976. Redwood Burn Ltd. ISBN 0-7011-2512-8 .
  • The Hedgehog and the Fox: An Essay on Tolstoy's View of History. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 1953. (Phoenix, ISBN 978-0-7538-0867-2 ; PDF ( Memento of August 6, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) from The Isaiah Berlin Virtual Library )
    • German edition: The hedgehog and the fox - essay on Tolstoy's understanding of history . Translated from the English by Harry Maòr . Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2009. PDF reading sample
  • Four Essays on Liberty. Oxford University Press, 1969. (Superseded by Liberty )
    • German edition: Freedom: Four attempts . From the English of… [?]. Fischer Verlag 2006
  • with Aileen Kelly (Ed.): Russian Thinkers. Hogarth Press, 1978. (2nd edition. Penguin , ISBN 978-0-14-144220-4 )
  • Concepts and Categories: Philosophical Essays. Hogarth Press, 1978. ( Pimlico , ISBN 0-670-23552-0 )
  • Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas. Hogarth Press, 1979. (Pimlico, ISBN 0-7126-6690-7 )
  • Personal impressions. Hogarth Press, 1980. (2nd edition. Pimlico, 1998, ISBN 0-7126-6601-X )
  • The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas. John Murray, 1990. (Pimlico, ISBN 0-7126-0616-5 )
    • German edition: The crooked wood of humanity . Translated from the English by Reinhard Kaiser. Berlin Verlag, Berlin 2009
  • The Sense of Reality: Studies in Ideas and their History. Chatto & Windus , 1996. (Pimlico, ISBN 0-7126-7367-9 )
  • with Roger Hausheer (Ed.): The Proper Study of Mankind: An Anthology of Essays. Chatto & Windus, 1997. (Pimlico, ISBN 0-7126-7322-9 )
  • The Roots of Romanticism. Chatto & Windus, 1999, ISBN 0-7126-6544-7 . (recorded 1965)
    • German edition: The roots of romanticism . From the English of… [?]. Berlin Verlag, Berlin 2004
  • Three Critics of the Enlightenment: Vico, Hamann, Herder. Pimlico, 2000, ISBN 0-7126-6492-0 .
  • The Power of Ideas. Chatto & Windus, 2000. (Pimlico, ISBN 0-7126-6554-4 )
  • Freedom and its Betrayal: Six Enemies of Human Liberty. Chatto & Windus, 2002. (recorded 1952) (Pimlico, ISBN 0-7126-6842-X )
  • Liberty. (revised and expanded edition of Four Essays On Liberty ). Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-19-924989-X .
  • The Soviet Mind: Russian Culture under Communism. Brookings Institution Press, 2004, ISBN 0-8157-0904-8 .
  • Flourishing: Selected Letters 1928-1946. Chatto & Windus, 2004, ISBN 0-7011-7420-X . (Published as Selected Letters 1928–1946 by Cambridge University Press , 2004, ISBN 0-521-83368-X )
  • Political Ideas in the Romantic Age: Their Rise and Influence on Modern Thought. Chatto & Windus, 2006, ISBN 0-7011-7909-0 ( Princeton University Press , 2006, ISBN 0-691-12687-9 ; Pimlico, ISBN 978-1-84413-926-2 )
  • with Beata Polanowska-Sygulska: Unfinished Dialogue. Prometheus, 2006, ISBN 1-59102-376-9 .
  • Henry Hardy, Mark Pottle (Eds.): Affirming: Letters 1975-1997. Chatto & Windus, 2015



Philosophical / history of ideas

  • Isaiah Berlin, Ramin Jahanbegloo: Giving voice back to ideas. An intellectual biography in conversation. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-10-005206-4 .
  • Norman Coles: Human Nature and Human Values, Interpreting Isaiah Berlin. Egerton House, Bexhill on Sea 2004.
  • George Crowder: Isaiah Berlin. Liberty and Pluralism. Polity, Cambridge 2004, ISBN 0-7456-2476-6 .
  • Claude J. Galipeau: Isaiah Berlin's Liberalism. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1994.
  • John Gray: Isaiah Berlin. HarperCollins, London 1995. (Fontana, London 1995 Princeton University Press, Princeton 1996, ISBN 0-691-02635-1 )
  • Robert Kocis: A Critical Appraisal of Sir Isaiah Berlin's Political Philosophy. Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston NY 1989, ISBN 0-88946-105-8 .
  • Mark Lilla , Ronald Dworkin , Robert Silvers (Eds.): The Legacy of Isaiah Berlin. New York Review Books, New York 2001, ISBN 0-940322-59-5 .
  • Joseph Mali, Robert Wokler (ed.): Isaiah Berlin's Counter-Enlightenment. In: Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. American Philosophical Society. Philadelphia 93, 5, 2003. ISSN  0065-9746
  • Edna Ullmann-Margalit, Avishai Margalit (Ed.): Isaiah Berlin, A Celebration. Hogarth Press, London 1991, ISBN 0-7012-0925-9 . (University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1991)
  • Alan Ryan (Ed.): The Idea of ​​Freedom, Essays in Honor of Isaiah Berlin. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1979, ISBN 0-19-215859-7 .

Individual evidence

  1. Hans Joas : Value pluralism and universalism . In: W. Schluchter: Colloquia of the Max Weber College XV-XXIII. Erfurt 2001, pp. 29-49.
  2. “[Anatoli] Naimann [Akhmatova's former secretary, confidante and friend], however, remembering many familiar conversations, could not see any effect of a Cupid arrow. But he remembers one of her "so-called" exaggerations "" of a completely different kind: She was convinced that the Stalin / Zhdanov curse of 1946 was a direct result of the nightly visit. For Naimann a subjectively understandable but not convincing conclusion. As a literary historian and writer, he is interested in facts. In this respect, he is certain that the most essential, evident effect of the visit to Berlin was that the poet received encouragement for her "English subject." She took up this "theme" after her childhood sweetheart BW Anrep emigrated to England in 1917. Around this time Anna Akhmatova had begun to read Shakespeare in the original, and until the end of her life she used motifs from his dramas and from the works of Byron , Shelley , Keats , Joyce and Eliot , as well as influences from poets such as Virgil , Horace , Dante and Baudelaire have been highlighted by literary historians. That nocturnal visitor from the western world had for a moment opened a door for the extraordinarily educated poet to a long-awaited world of free intellectual exchange. The poetry cycles Cinque, Die Heckenrose blooms and also the third dedication of the poem without a hero for Isaiah Berlin , which she decreed, are evidence of this . ”
    Beate Reisch: Life, Love, Poetry. [(Critical) review on] György Dalos : The guest from the future. Anna Achmatowa and Sir Isaiah Berlin. A Lovestory. German adaptation by Elsbeth Zylla. European Publishing House, Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-434-50083-9 . In: , accessed on March 1, 2016.
  3. CM Woodhouse: Something Ventured. London, Granada 1982, ISBN 0-246-11061-9 , p. 2.
  4. ^ The Isaiah Berlin Virtual Library - Quotations about Isaiah Berlin .
  5. ^ Fritz Stern: Five Germany and one life. CH Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-55811-5 , p. 468.
  6. a b Knights and Dames: BED-BUG at Leigh Rayment's Peerage
  7. Zenobios 5, 68 = Archilochos fragment 103 Diels / 201 West : πόλλ᾽ οἶδ᾽ ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ᾽ ἐχῖνος ἕν μέγα póll 'oĩd' alōpēx, all 'echĩnos hén méga “Many (things) only the fox knows, but the hedgehog big thing)".
  8. a b Isaiah Berlin: The Hedgehog and the Fox. ( Memento from March 7, 2009 in the web archive )
  9. Thinking styles in public value. ( Memento from November 1, 2014 in the web archive ) on the website of the magazine for organizational development.
  10. ^ Honorary Members: Isaiah Berlin. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed March 6, 2019 .
  11. ^ Member History: Isaiah Berlin. American Philosophical Society, accessed April 30, 2018 .

Web links

Commons : Isaiah Berlin  - Collection of images, videos and audio files