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Bertrand Russell: 1872-1920 The Spirit of Solitude v. 1 Hardcover – 18 Apr 1996


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd (18 April 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224030264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224030267
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.6 x 5.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 366,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
'The first thing that lead me to philosophy', Bertrand Russell wrote late in life, 'occurred at the age of eleven.' Read the first page
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Feb. 1999
Format: Hardcover
Ray Monk makes it clear in this book that he dislikes Russell.
As a hitherto ardent Russophile, this ought to have given me cause for concern that I would find problems with this book.
I nonetheless recommend it to even those of a similar disposition to myself, it is probably the best biography (of any subject) that I have ever read.
It attempts to be more probing and insightful (and thus results in being more contentious) than anything I have ever read concerning Russell's motivations, both conscious and otherwise.
For someone who has taken us so far towards appreciating the tragic explanations for their subject's weaknesses, Ray Monk himself perhaps needs to explain why dislike has emerged rather than sysmpathy.
Or perhaps answering this question is ultimately a job for this biographer's biographer?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. J. Wade on 9 Sept. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Those looking for an hagiography should look elsewhere as Monk's book certainly contrasts sharply with Russell's autobiography, which, presented with his usual charm and insouciance, leaves a rather more favourable impression of the man. The impression that Monk's book leaves is of Russell as a total paradox, something which seems to characterize his rather complex personality and runs like a thread through every aspect of his life and work.
It is a book well worth reading, as there is so much to be gained from it, if not a very favourable view of Russell himself. Not least of these things, are some very interesting insights into the personalities of some now famous intellectuals and the morals of the then ruling-classes. Outstanding amongst these is the extraordinary Lady Ottoline Morrell, an aristocratic aesthete, who was a great patron of the arts and associate of the Bloomsbury Group. It is amusing to find that despite Russell's reputation for intellect, she ran rings round him throughout their long relationship. It is notable that despite Lady Ottoline's role as co-conspirator in many of Russell's predatory priapic adventures, she escapes Monk's condemnation. Other personalities who cannot fail to fascinate are those of D.H. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot and Joseph Conrad. The resolute determination of the admirable Irene Cooper-Willis, to stay out of Russell's bed, is both hilarious and an inspiring example of a blue-stocking.
Monk's book also provides an important perspective on British society, in the years leading up to WW1 and Russell's objection that the newly elected Liberal Government, found itself committed to war due to the private personal assurances made to allies, have echoes in Blair's more recent, similarly unconstitutional commitments.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. WEI on 8 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Read this book shortly after it was published but somehow lost it in the half a dozen house movings since. Bought it from this dealer on Amazon. The booked arrived very fast in a condition better than expecated.

I had been quite impressed by Ray Monk's biography of Wittgenstein, so I decided to pick up this one of Russell. Obviously some materials he researched for the Wittgenstein book were reused, but overall this is a very well researched, structured, and written book. I didn't read the second volume though, and didn't intend to, after browsing through the overwhelmingly negative comments on Amazon. I feel Mr. Monk had done really well in avoiding being opinionated in his efforts on Wittgenstein and this first volume on Russell, but I don't understand how he could tread into that territory in the second volume of this effort -- I don't think he could be wronged by almost all the reviewers on this forum.
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