“Isaiah Berlin: The Free Thinker”

Fraser, Nick. “Isaiah Berlin: The Free Thinker.” The Independent, May 2009.


“Next week the faithful will assemble to mark the centenary of the philosopher Isaiah Berlin. He’ll be celebrated in Jerusalem, which he loved, in Harvard where he taught; and in Oxford, which, in his rumpled Savile Row suits and academic floppy hats and gowns, he seemed to represent spiritually, as a totem. A statue is planned for Riga, in the Baltic, where he was born.

There are many good reasons to commemorate Isaiah Berlin’s life. Like many Jewish émigrés of his generation settled in Britain, he proved capable of reinterpreting the national culture. As a broadcaster and lecturer, he performed without notes, stringing from idea to idea with the precarious ease of a man on wire in the wind. He was a dinner-party superstar. “A fascinating figure, bubbling continuously with energetic vitality, he is becoming a legend,” American Vogue reported gushingly in 1950. ‘He talks all day and all night at astonishing speed. His knowledge is truly terrifying, ranging from Russian literature to the history of political thought.'”

Independent UK