In Search of Mrs. T: The Elusive Woman behind Thatcherism

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "In Search of Mrs. T: The Elusive Woman behind Thatcherism." The Weekly Standard, March 6, 2017.
Excerpt: David Cannadine dedicates his biography of Margaret Thatcher: “In memory of Mrs T.” But that Mrs T is not, as one might suppose, Mrs. Thatcher, the longest-serving prime minister of Great Britain in the 20th century. Instead, the preface… More

The Jewish Question: Then and Now

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Jewish Question: Then and Now." The Weekly Standard, June 20, 2016.
Excerpt: Since the Charlie Hebdo affair a year-and-a-half ago and the gratuitous, as it seemed, attack on the kosher supermarket in Paris, the condition of Jews in France has been a subject of much discussion and concern, and not only in France. An article in… More

‘Der Alte Jude’: The Jewish Life of Benjamin Disraeli

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "'Der Alte Jude': The Jewish Life of Benjamin Disraeli." The Weekly Standard, May 6, 2016.
Excerpt A recent book in the Yale University Press series on “Jewish Lives,” a biography of the nineteenth-century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, opens provocatively: “Does Benjamin Disraeli deserve a place in a series of books… More

In Memory of Amy Kass

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "In Memory of Amy Kass." The Weekly Standard, August 20, 2015.
Excerpt: Amy Kass’s family and friends, students and colleagues, will testify to her many virtues—her love and devotion to husband, children, and grandchildren (so amply reciprocated by them in these last painful months), her keen intellect and… More

Into the Abyss: From the Halls of Academia to the Cover of Vanity Fair

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude, "Into the Abyss: From the Halls of Academia to the Cover of Vanity Fair," The Weekly Standard, July 20, 2015.
Excerpt: The Caitlyn (née Bruce) Jenner case has engendered if not a new subject at least a newly publicized and sensationalized one. For an old-timer like myself, transgenderism is reminiscent of the postmodernism that swept the universities several decades… More

Einstein in Theory: The Scientist as Public Intellectual

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Einstein in Theory: The Scientist as Public Intellectual." The Weekly Standard, May 11, 2015.
Abstract: This year is the centenary of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and the occasion for revisiting that momentous discovery by paying tribute to one of the most famous scientists of modern times. Steven Gimbel’s brief book is a… More

Culture’s Champion: On Rereading ‘Culture and Anarchy’

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Culture’s Champion: On Rereading ‘Culture and Anarchy’." The Weekly Standard, September 2, 2016.
Excerpt: It was by chance that my first reading of Culture and Anarchy with my students coincided with the centenary of its publication. But it was not by chance that I chose to read it then, in 1969, at the height of the culture war. Anticipating that war… More

From Robespierre to ISIS: Edmund Burke’s War on Terror—and Ours

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "From Robespierre to ISIS: Edmund Burke’s War on Terror—and Ours." The Weekly Standard, September, 29 2014.
Excerpt: he war on terror is over, the president assured us a year ago. Now, we are told, that war is very much with us and will be pursued with all due diligence. The president was obviously responding to the polls reflecting the disapproval of the public,… More

Evolution and Ethics, Revisited

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Evolution and Ethics, Revisited." The New Atlantis, no. 42. 2014.
Excerpt: That is John Henry Newman in The Idea of a University (1852) referring to the sciences of his day, which threatened to dominate and even overwhelm theological education in the university. A science’s teaching might be true in its proper place but… More

Winston vs. the Webbs: A Century-old Precursor to the Obamacare Debate

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Winston vs. the Webbs: A Century-old Precursor to the Obamacare Debate." The Weekly Standard, April 21, 2014.
Excerpt: The debate over Obamacare may remind a student of British history of the debate in Britain over the National Insurance Act of 1911, which was in effect until the initiation of the welfare state after World War II. The protagonists in that debate… More

The French Connection: How the Revolution, and Two Thinkers, Bequeathed Us ‘Right’ and ‘Left’

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The French Connection: How the Revolution, and Two Thinkers, Bequeathed Us ‘Right’ and ‘Left’." The Weekly Standard, December 9, 2013.
Excerpt: Hard cases, it is said, make bad law. So, too, extreme situations make bad policy and worse philosophy. The French Revolution was just such a situation; compared with the French, the English and American revolutions are almost unworthy of the title… More

Meet Mr. Bagehot: How ‘The Greatest Victorian’ Speaks to Us

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Meet Mr. Bagehot: How ‘The Greatest Victorian’ Speaks to Us." The Weekly Standard,  September 9, 2013.
Excerpt: Walter Bagehot (1826-1877)—“the greatest Victorian,” as an eminent historian of that period memorialized him, editor of the Economist, author of The English Constitution, and a prolific essayist—is almost unknown today. (Even the… More

The Victorian Lady: Margaret Thatcher’s Virtues

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Victorian Lady: Margaret Thatcher's Virtues." The Weekly Standard, April 22, 2013.
Excerpt: I was at a reception at the British embassy here in Washington in the early 1990s, I believe, when I was introduced to Margaret Thatcher by John O’Sullivan, her friend and former “Special Adviser.” Gertrude Himmelfarb, he told her, had recently… More

Compassionate Conservatism Properly Understood

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Compassionate Conservatism Properly Understood." The Weekly Standard, January 14, 2013.
Excerpt: Defeat, like death, concentrates the mind wonderfully. It also liberates the mind. People venture to think the unthinkable, or at least, the impermissible. A new generation of conservatives may be moved to reconsider some ideas that have fallen into… More

Our Dignified Constitution: Fourth of July Reflections on the Queen’s Jubilee

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Our Dignified Constitution: Fourth of July Reflections on the Queen’s Jubilee." The Weekly Standard,  July 16, 2012.
Excerpt: It was perhaps inevitable that our Fourth of July celebrations last week might have seemed anti-climactic after the four-day festivities a month ago accompanying the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Fireworks, however spectacular, cannot compare with the… More

Civil Society Reconsidered: Little Platoons are Just the Beginning

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Civil Society Reconsidered: Little Platoons are Just the Beginning." The Weekly Standard, April 23, 2012.
Excerpt: In the conclusion to Coming Apart, after describing a society that is in even greater disarray (literally, coming apart) than we had supposed, Charles Murray holds out one hope for the future: “a civic Great Awakening.” Previous Great Awakenings… More

Lionel Trilling and the Critical Imagination

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Lionel Trilling & the Critical Imagination." New Criterion. October, 2011.
Excerpt: Why Trilling Matters: it is a curiously defensive title for a book about a man who was a star in the much-acclaimed circle of “New York intellectuals,” who delivered the first of the Jefferson Lectures bestowed by the government for… More

Irving Kristol’s Neoconservative Persuasion

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Irving Kristol’s Neoconservative Persuasion." Commentary Magazine, February, 2011.
Excerpt: The memoir by my husband introducing his last volume of essays in 1995, Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, opens with a typical Irving Kristol quip. Is there such a thing as a “neo” gene? I ask that question because, looking back… More

Sense and Sensibility: No Good Deed of Hume’s went Unpunished by Rousseau

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Sense and Sensibility: No Good Deed of Hume's went Unpunished by Rousseau." The Weekly Standard, March 30, 2009.
Excerpt: “No man is a hero to his valet,” the old adage goes. Nor to his biographer. And eminent men–poets, statesmen, or philosophers–are all the more vulnerable. Their personal lives may be seen as, at best, a distraction from… More

Reflections on Burke’s Reflections

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Reflections on Burke's Reflections." New Criterion, February, 2009.
Excerpt: Edmund Burke was, and still is, a provocative thinker—a provocation in his own day, as in ours. At a time when most right-minded (which is to say, left-inclined) English literati were rhapsodizing over the French Revolution—Wordsworth declaring… More

Glorious, Indeed: What the English Revolution of 1688 Meant

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Glorious, Indeed: What the English Revolution of 1688 Meant." The Weekly Standard, July 23, 2007.
Excerpt: Michael Barone is a distinguished political analyst, commentator, journalist, and occasional historian, the author of two books on recent American history. He has now ventured on a subject that is more than three centuries and a full continent… More

The Trilling Imagination

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Trilling Imagination." The Weekly Standard, February 14, 2005
Excerpt: A Recent casual, dismissive reference to Lionel Trilling recalled to me the man who was the most eminent intellectual figure of his time–certainly in New York intellectual circles, but also beyond that, in the country as a whole. So, at any… More

Judging Richard Posner

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Judging Richard Posner." Commentary Magazine. February, 2002.
Excerpt: Declaration of interest: I am one of the many public intellectuals criticized in Richard A. Posner’s latest book, Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline Indeed, I apparently have the distinction of having inspired it. In his introduction, Posner,… More

Two Nations or Two Cultures?

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Two Nations or Two Cultures?" Commentary Magazine. January, 2001.
Exceprt: I entirely (well, almost entirely) agree with Terry Teachout. The election has confirmed, even dramatized, the cultural divide in our nation—a cultural divide, as he points out, that now coincides with a geographical divide (that L-shaped swath of… More

Lord Acton: in Pursuit of First Principles

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Lord Acton: in Pursuit of First Principles." New Criterion. June,  2000.
Excerpt: Almost fifty years ago, introducing my biography of Lord Acton, I wrote: “He is of this age, more than of his. He is, indeed, one of our great contemporaries.” A decade and a half later, in an essay on Acton, I described him as being “totally… More

The Election and the Culture Wars

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Election and the Culture Wars." Commentary Magazine. May, 2000.
Excerpt: A funny thing happened on the way to the presidential nominations this year. We discovered not only that the candidates were not quite what we thought them to be (this happens in all electoral campaigns; it is why we have them). We also discovered,… More

Responses to Fukuyama

– Mansfield, Harvey, E. O. Wilson, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Robin Fox, Robert J. Samuelson, and Joseph S. Nye. "Responses to Fukuyama." The National Interest, no. 56. 1999.
Abstract: Gertrude Himmelfarb: I suffer from the historian. the professional Philosophers deformation of the historian. Philosophers can see the eternal verities that transcend his- tory. Political scientists can see the abstract processes that underlie… More

J. H. Hexter (25 May 1910-8 December 1996)

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "J. H. Hexter (25 May 1910-8 December 1996)." Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 143, no. 2. 1999.
Abstract: There are not many historians who preface a collection of essays with the statement that three of them had been rejected by the leading professional journals in the field. One of these essays, the aptly titled “Storm Over the Gentry,” is… More

“A Man’s Own Household His Enemies”

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "A Man’s Own Household His Enemies." Commentary Magazine. July/August, 1999.
Excerpt: A passage in the Talmud reads: Rabbi Eliezer the Great said: . . . As the footsteps of the messiah approach, shamelessness will spread. . . . Schoolrooms will be used for lechery, . . . scholarship will degenerate, those who shun sin will be… More

Beyond Method

Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Beyond Method". What's Happened to the Humanities? Edited by Kernan Alvin. Princeton University Press, 1997.
Abstract: For the journalist, the medium is the message. For the scholar, the method is the message. On this one proposition, traditional and nontraditional scholars may agree. Methodology does not dictate the conclusions that any particular study may come… More

Revolution in the Library

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Revolution in the Library." The American Scholar 66, no. 2. 1997.
Access through JSTOR: Revolution in the Library

The Age of Philanthropy

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Age of Philanthropy." The Wilson Quarterly (1976-) 21, no. 2. 1997.
Abstract: Cival society” has become the rallying cry of liberals and conservatives alike, especially in the wake of the recent reform of the welfare system. The devolution of welfare to the states suggests a further devolution to local authorities, and… More

Professor Narcissus

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Professor Narcissus." The Weekly Standard, June 2, 1997.
Excerpt: Not so long ago, it was TV talk shows that were being excoriated for their wanton exhibitionism as they competed for the honor of producing the most brazen or degrading revelation of the month. The award surely goes to the show (never aired but… More

For the Love of Country

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "For the Love of Country," Commentary Magazine, May, 1997.
Excerpt: “The era of big government is over,” President Clinton announced in his State of the Union address in January 1995, responding to the mandate of the people as expressed in the newly elected Republican Congress. That statement has proved to be so… More

The Paradox of Thomas Carlyle: How to Read a Provocateur and Why We Should

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Paradox of Thomas Carlyle: How to Read a Provocateur and Why We Should." The Weekly Standard, February 24, 1997.
Excerpt: More than half a century ago, Lionel Trilling wrote an essay on T. S. Eliot’s The Idea of a Christian Society, calling upon his liberal and Marxist friends to be more appreciative of a mode of “religious politics” that was… More

On the Future of Conservatism

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "On the Future of Conservatism." Commentary Magazine. February, 1997.
Excerpt: The November 1996 election and a number of other recent events have offered an opportunity for reassessment among conservatives. At issue is not only the meaning of the election results themselves but the present and future character of a movement… More

A Neo-Luddite on the Internet

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "A Neo-Luddite on the Internet." Prospect Magazine. December, 1996.
Excerpt: On the subject of our latest technological revolution, cyberspace, I am a neo-Luddite. Not a true Luddite; my Luddism is qualified, compromised. I revel in the word-processor; I am grateful for computerised library catalogues; I appreciate the… More

Second Thoughts On Civil Society

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Second Thoughts On Civil Society." The Weekly Standard, September 8, 1996.
Excerpt: I would think that it is not just contrariness on my part that makes me wince, these days, on hearing talk of civil society. Liberals and conservatives, communitarians and libertarians, Democrats and Republicans, academics and politicians appeal to… More

The Christian University: A Call To Counterrevolution

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Christian University: A Call To Counterrevolution." First Things. January, 1996.
Abstract: It is well to remember, as we contemplate the relation of the university and church, that the Protestant Reformation was started by a professor in a university. Years later Luther insisted that he had never meant to be a reformer. I was forced and… More

Is ‘Conservative Revolution’ An Oxymoron?

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Is 'Conservative Revolution' An Oxymoron?." The Weekly Standard, December 18, 1995.
Excerpt: Budget reform, welfare reform, Medicare reform — this formidable combination of reforms has been proudly heralded by a new breed of conservatives as a “conservative revolution.” Yet an old-fashioned conservative may find that label… More

The Gender Card Loses

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Gender Card Loses." The Weekly Standard. October 16, 1995.
Excerpt: Race trumped gender” — for me this comment, by a professor of government quoted in the Washington Post, is the most telling observation on the Simpson verdict. For years I have been complaining of the “race/ class/gender”… More

Academic Advocates

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Academic Advocates." Commentary Magazine, September, 1995.
Excerpt: Recent discussions of academic freedom have focused on one particularly egregious case of professorial racism and anti-Semitism. In class and in public lectures, Professor Leonard Jeffries, then the chairman of the black-studies program at the City… More

What To Do About Education: The Universities

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "What To Do About Education: The Universities." Commentary Magazine, October, 1994.
Abstract: Continuing the series we inaugurated last month with James Q. Wilson’s article on crime, we here move on to the issue of education. It is now widely recognized that this country is failing at every level to educate its young people properly. But… More

Taylor-Made History

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Taylor-Made History." The National Interest, no. 36. 1994.
Abstract: PARADOXICAL perverse contrary, unconventional, A. J. P. Taylor is a biographer’s dream. The oddities of his personal life are fascinating, if not always edifying: his three unconventional marriages (he continued to live part-time with his… More

The Politics of Dissent

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Politics of Dissent." Commentary Magazine. July, 1994.
Excerpt: In Culture and Anarchy, written more than a century ago, Matthew Arnold described a phenomenon that we tend to think is unique to our times rather than his. He expressed it in religious terms: it was the particular pride of Dissenters in dissenting,… More

The Dark and Bloody Crossroads: Where Nationalism and Religion Meet

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Dark and Bloody Crossroads: Where Nationalism and Religion Meet." The National Interest, no. 32. 1993.
Abstract: It was in a freshman history course shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War that I was formally introduced to the concept of nationalism. The war, the professor informed us, was the last gasp of nationalism, nationalism in its death… More

Liberty: “One Very Simple Principle”?

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude.  "Liberty: "One Very Simple Principle"?" The American Scholar 62, no. 4. 1993.
Excerpt: The end of the Cold War has liberated us in more ways than we might have thought, liberated us from the tyranny of Communism and liberated us to reexamine the liberalism that is now triumphant. For more than half a century, confronted with the double… More

Tradition and Creativity In The Writing of History

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Tradition and Creativity In The Writing of History." First Things, November, 1992.
Abstract: For the historian, as for the philosopher, the quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns is being superseded by a quarrel between the Moderns and the Postmoderns. If the great subversive principle of modernity is historicism—a form of… More

The Abyss Revisited

Abstract: A NOW CLASSIC ESSAY, “On the Teaching of Modern Literature,” Lionel Trilling described his students’ response to his own course on modern literature. I asked them to look into the Abyss, and, both dutifully and gladly, they have… More

Of Heroes, Villains, and Valets

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Of Heroes, Villains, and Valets." Commentary Magazine. June, 1991.
Excerpt: “No man is a hero to his valet.” The dictum is generally attributed to the Duke of Condé in the reign of Louis XIV. Hegel amplified it to read: “No man is a hero to his valet, not because the former is no hero, but because the latter is a… More

The Right to Misquote

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Right to Misquote." Commentary Magazine. April, 1991.
Excerpt: It is not often that the Supreme Court is presented with a case in which the evidence consists of such titillating remarks, allegedly made by the plaintiff, as his likening himself to “an intellectual gigolo,” desiring to convert Anna Freud’s… More

Some Reflections on the New History

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Some Reflections on the New History." The American Historical Review 94, no. 3. 1989.
Excerpt: WHEN THIS SUBJECT, THE NEW HISTORY, WAS FIRST PROPOSED to me, I thought I understood what it meant. I am no longer so sure. The varieties of new history have proliferated so rapidly, the rhetoric and rationale have become so bold, and the entire… More

Victorian Values/Jewish Values

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Victorian Values/Jewish Values." Commentary Magazine, February, 1989.
Excerpt: In her recent election campaign, replying to a television interviewer who observed, rather derisively, that she seemed to be approving of “Victorian values,” Margaret Thatcher enthusiastically agreed: “Oh exactly. Very much so. Those were the… More

Manners into Morals: What the Victorians Knew

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Manners into Morals: What the Victorians Knew." The American Scholar 57, no. 2. 1988.
Excerpt: “Manners and morals”- the expression is peculiarly, unmistakably Victorian. Not “manners” alone: Lord Chesterfield in the eighteenth century was fond of discoursing to his son on the supreme importance of manners (manners as… More

In Defense of the Victorians

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "In Defense of the Victorians." The Wilson Quarterly (1976-) 12, no. 3. 1988.
Abstract: “Manners and Morals” – the expression is peculiarly, unmistakably Victorian. Not “manners” alone: Lord Chesterfield in the 18th century was fond of discoursing to his son on the supreme importance of manners –… More

The “Real” Marx

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The 'Real' Marx." Commentary Magazine, April, 1985.
Excerpt: It used to be said that the three great giants of modern times—indeed the creators of modernity—were Marx, Darwin, and Freud. In the past few decades we have witnessed major reevaluations and revisions of all three, so that a “classical”… More

From Clapham to Bloomsbury: A Genealogy of Morals

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "From Clapham to Bloomsbury: A Genealogy of Morals." Commentary Magazine, February, 1985.
Excerpt: “For the Englishman,” Nietzsche wrote in 1889, “morality is not yet a problem.” The English thought that religion was no longer needed as a “guarantee of morality,” that morality could be known “intuitively.” But that illusion was… More

“Supposing History Is a Woman—What Then?”

– HIMMELFARB, GERTRUDE. ""Supposing History Is a Woman—What Then?"" The American Scholar 53, no. 4. 1984.
Abstract: Supposing, truth is a woman – what then?” This sentence of Nietzsche’s may well be the most tantalizing opening of any philosophical text. It is also the prelude to one of the most arresting images in philosophy. The philosopher… More

Denigrating the Rule of Reason

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Denigrating the Rule of Reason." Harpers Magazine. April, 1984.
PDF [subscribers only] through Harper’s.

Marriage and Morals Among the Victorians

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Marriage and Morals Among the Victorians." New Criterion, November, 1983.
Excerpt : When Lytton Strachey was asked to propose a toast to his Eminent Victorians, he quoted an eminent Victorian biographer: “When I hear men called ‘judicious’ I suspect them; but when I hear them called ‘judicious and venerable,’ I know they… More

Engels in Manchester: Inventing the Proletariat

– HIMMELFARB, GERTRUDE. "Engels in Manchester: Inventing the Proletariat." The American Scholar 52, no. 4. 1983.
Abstract: Frederick Engels, writing in 1845, described Chartism as only one manifestation of the “social war” that was being waged in England, a war that was bound to issue in a full-scale revolution. And this not in the remote future but within a… More

The Englishness of England

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Englishness of England." New Criterion, May 1983.
Excerpt: Reviewing The English World in the Times Literary Supplement, the historian Theodore Zeldin wrote that it confirmed his view that “a national perspective cannot be sustained in historical study much longer,” that nations are not, and never were,… More

Who now reads Macaulay?

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Who now reads Macaulay?" New Criterion, December, 1982.
Excerpt: Who now reads Bolingbroke?” Burke asked, thus casually, irrevocably, consigning him to the ash-heap of history. So the modern historian may be tempted to ask, “Who now reads Macaulay?” Who, that is, except those who have a professional stake in… More

William Cobbett: “An English episode”

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The 'New History'." New Criterion, October, 1982.
Excerpt: The English have had a penchant for the most unlikely heros, heros they’ve honored more—in the classical meaning of that much abused phrase—in the breach than in the observance. Carlyle was one such hero. The names of his admirers are a… More

In Defense of the Two Cultures

– HIMMELFARB, GERTRUDE. "In Defense of the Two Cultures." The American Scholar50, no. 4. 1981.
Abstract: Next year will be the centenary of Charles Darwin’s death, and the occasion will, no doubt, be properly memorialized. But it will be a very different kind of occasion from that celebrated twenty-two years ago on the anniversary of the Origin… More

In Defense of Progress

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "In Defense of Progress." Commentary Magazine. 1980.
Abstract: The idea of Progress—Progress with a capital “P”—has been in disrepute for a long time now. And with good reason, one would think. The experiences of this century hardly dispose us to any complacency about the present, still less about the… More

The Conservative Imagination: Michael Oakeshott

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude, "The Conservative Imagination: Michael Oakeshott." The American Scholar 44, no. 3. 1975.
Excerpt: THE TITLE OF HIS FIRST VOLUME OF ESSAYS, published in 1950, Lionel Trilling perfectly captured the spirit of the time. “The Liberal Imagination” – not “the liberal philosophy,” nor “the liberal creed,” nor… More

Reply to Louis B. Zimmer on Mill’s ‘Negative Argument’

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Reply to Louis B. Zimmer on Mill's 'Negative Argument'." Journal of British Studies 17, no. 1. 1977.
Abstract: Dr. Zimmer’s misreading of my book on Mill is far less important than his misreading of Mill himself. Let me dispose of the lesser issue first. I did not “fault” Mill for making so much of the negative argument in The Subjection of… More

The Secularization of the European Mind in the Nineteenth Century, by Owen Chadwick

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Secularization of the European Mind in the Nineteenth Century, by Owen Chadwick." Commentary Magazine. 1976.
Abstract: At the height of his campaign against Christianity, Voltaire took to concluding his letters with the motto, “Ecrasez l’infâme,” often abbreviated as “Ecr. linf.” Sometimes this salutation stood in place of a signature, which led one… More

The “New History”

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The 'New History'." Commentary Magazine. 1975.
Abstract: A sociologist friend recently complained to me of the amorphous state of his discipline. Sociology, he said, is totally undefined, both as to subject matter and methodology; no one knows what it is supposed to comprise or how it is supposed to do… More

The Seventh Hero: Thomas Carlyle and the Theory of Radical Activism, by Philip Rosenberg

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Seventh Hero: Thomas Carlyle and the Theory of Radical Activism, by Philip Rosenberg." Commentary Magazine, September, 1974.
Excerpt: While I am defending Hook, I might take the occasion to defend others of Carlyle’s biographers and commentators from Rosenberg’s aspersions. He says, for example, that the “conservative” interpretation of Carlyle has so generally… More

The Unknown Mayhew, by Eileen Yeo and E.P. Thompson

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Unknown Mayhew, by Eileen Yeo and E.P. Thompson." Commentary Magazine. 1971.
Abstract: The historian who does not subscribe to the creed of “relevance,” who believes, indeed, that the best history is written without thought of contemporary relevance, is embarrassed by the occasions when history seems to be all too relevant. In… More

The Intellectual in Politics: The Case of the Webbs

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Intellectual in Politics: The Case of the Webbs." Journal of Contemporary History 6, no. 3. 1971.
Abstract: In some obvious respects, the Webbs were the very quintessence of the ‘intellectual in politics’, the latter-day version of the philosopher-king. They themselves were given to more prosaic language. Beatrice Webb described their marriage… More

The Writing of Social History: Recent Studies of 19th Century England

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Writing of Social History: Recent Studies of 19th Century England." Journal of British Studies 11, no. 1. 1971.
Abstract: As a genre, social history is far from new. But the claims now being made for it and the vogue it is presently enjoying are new.2 And it is this enlargement of claim and fame that present us with a new set of problems: Does social history have an… More

Mayhew’s Poor: A Problem of Identity

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Mayhew's Poor: A Problem of Identity." Victorian Studies 14, no. 3. 1971.
Abstract: THE CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE” WAS AS MUCH A SET TOPIC FOR VICTORIANS as it has since become for historians.’ It was the subject of Royal Com- mission Reports and parliamentary debates, statistical analyses and sensationalist tracts,… More

Commitment and Ideology: The Case of the Second Reform Act

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Commitment and Ideology: The Case of the Second Reform Act." Journal of British Studies 9, no. 1. 1969.
Abstract: Whatever our differences, I am grateful to F. B. Smith for what must surely be the best academic news of the year: that under- graduates somewhere, if only in Australia, can still find alluring such things as “style and footnote… More

Bentham Scholarship and the Bentham “Problem”

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Bentham Scholarship and the Bentham "Problem"." The Journal of Modern History 41, no. 2. 1969.
Abstract: Bentham has finally, indubitably, “made it.” Not as he had hoped to make it in his own time, as the reformer, indeed transformer, of society, law, and philosophy; nor even as he would seem to have made it now, as the subject of what is… More

Beatrice Webb: A Life, 1858-1943, by Kitty Muggeridge and Ruth Adam

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Beatrice Webb: A Life, 1858-1943, by Kitty Muggeridge and Ruth Adam." Commentary Magazine. 1968.
Abstract: In an earlier biography, Margaret Cole, a long-time friend and political associate, wrote that Beatrice Webb, like “happy countries,” had “almost no personsonal history.” There is a sense in which this is true: the story of Mrs. Webb’s… More


– Kelley, Robert, and Gertrude Himmelfarb. "Correspondence." Journal of British Studies 6, no. 2. 1967.
Abstract: To the Editor of The Journal of British Studies: I am writing to make certain that someone, at least, enters a protest against Professor Gertrude Himmelfarb’s extraordinary arti- cle in the November, 1966, issue of the J.B.S. on the Reform Act… More

The Politics of Democracy: The English Reform Act of 1867

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Politics of Democracy: The English Reform Act of 1867." Journal of British Studies 6, no. 1. 1966.
Abstract: The Reform Act of 1867 was one of the decisive events, perhaps the decisive event, in modern English history. It was this act that transformed England into a democracy and made democracy not only a respectable form of government (the United States… More

Name and Address, by T. S. Matthews

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Name and Address, by T. S. Matthews." Commentary Magazine, July, 1960.
Excerpt: Some time ago there was an exchange program for English and American journalists, in the course of which a member of the staff of the Economist was briefly attached to Time. Apart from the obvious differences of tone and style between the two… More

Ex-Prodigy: My Childhood and Youth, by Norbert Wiener

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Ex-Prodigy: My Childhood and Youth, by Norbert Wiener." Commentary Magazine, May, 1953.
Excerpt: One of the famous exhibits in the 19th century’s showcase of infant prodigies is the four-year-old Macaulay who, when asked how he was feeling after having been scalded, replied: “Thank you, madam, the agony is abated.” The average modern… More

On the Horizon: Henry Adams’ Skeptic Faith in Democracy

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "On the Horizon: Henry Adams’ Skeptic Faith in Democracy." Commentary Magazine, December, 1952.
Abstract: Scion of the presidential Founding Fathers, Henry Adams himself had grave doubts about the future of democracy as he observed its operations in the America of his time, and he expressed his forebodings in one of the most influential of American… More

The German Catastrophe, by Friedrich Meinecke, and Journal in the Night, by Theodor Haecker

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Review of The German Catastrophe, by Friedrich Meinecke, and Journal in the Night, by Theodor Haecker." Commentary Magazine, September, 1950.
Excerpt: One feature of such an ideological war as World War II is the public act of penance exacted from the defeated, a kind of cultural or intellectual reparations. Professor Meinecke is the perfect vehicle for this purpose. The dean of German historians,… More

Political Thinking: Ancients vs. Moderns

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Study of Man: The Prophets of the New Conservatism." Commentary Magazine, July, 1951.
Abstract: From the heavy volume of writings on political theory published in recent months, Gertrude Himmelfarb selects for discussion a number of books which represent two extreme—and influential—approaches to the problems of politics: the approach of… More

The Prophets of the New Conservatism

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The Study of Man: The Prophets of the New Conservatism." Commentary Magazine, January, 1950.
Excerpt: Conservatism Revisited, by the Pulitzer-prize poet Peter Viereck, is only one of a small tide of recent books in the same vein. Someone has recently remarked that there are probably more Americans writing books in defense of conservatism, than there… More

The American Revolution in the Political Theory of Lord Acton

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "The American Revolution in the Political Theory of Lord Acton." The Journal of Modern History 21, no. 4. 1949.
Abstract: LORD ACTON once complained that he ~agreed with no one and no one Li agreed with him. This should serve as a counsel of caution to his present-day interpreters. In the flush of “rediscover- ing” Acton, it is tempting to fit him into a… More

Review of Community of the Free by Yves Simon

– Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "Community of the Free, by Yves Simon." Commentary Magazine, June, 1948.
Excerpt: Presented with John Dewey’s A Common Faith—a faith independent of sect, class, or creed—Santayana is supposed to have remarked, “a very common faith indeed.” Yves Simon’s Community of the Free may be described as a very exclusive… More