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The Two Cultures (Canto Classics) [Paperback]

C. P. Snow , Stefan Collini
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Mar 2012 1107606144 978-1107606142 Reissue
The notion that our society, its education system and its intellectual life, is characterised by a split between two cultures – the arts or humanities on one hand and the sciences on the other – has a long history. But it was C. P. Snow's Rede lecture of 1959 that brought it to prominence and began a public debate that is still raging in the media today. This fiftieth anniversary printing of The Two Cultures and its successor piece, A Second Look (in which Snow responded to the controversy four years later) features an introduction by Stefan Collini, charting the history and context of the debate, its implications and its afterlife. The importance of science and technology in policy run largely by non-scientists, the future for education and research, and the problem of fragmentation threatening hopes for a common culture are just some of the subjects discussed.

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The Two Cultures (Canto Classics) + Two Cultures?: The Significance of C. P. Snow (Canto Classics) + The Two Cultures Controversy: Science, Literature and Cultural Politics in Postwar Britain
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Product details

  • Paperback: 179 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reissue edition (26 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107606144
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107606142
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 193,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"Stefan Collini's introduction and annotation of this new edition of the lecture not only help to contextualize and rehabilitate it but also bring to the surface ideas that have relevance today as academics and educationalists try to address the increasing division between science and the humanities." -Yvone Lysandrou, Morning Star

Book Description

This fiftieth anniversary printing of The Two Cultures and its successor piece, A Second Look (in which Snow responded to the controversy four years later) features an introduction by Stefan Collini, charting the history and context of the debate, its implications and its afterlife.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is a bit dated now perhaps, but ... 2 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a bit dated now perhaps, but remains an important read for anyone interested in the interaction between science and the humanities.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An important event in the West's culture wars 28 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback
After a scientific career that ended in dishonour, C. P. Snow turned to writing and became a very successful (but hardly great) novelist. Snow used his experience of the scientific and literary worlds in developing his most famous argument of the existence of two mutually largely exclusive cultures in academia. Stefan Collini's introduction to C. P. Snow's classic lecture is invaluable, placing it in the context of the broader 'culture wars' of the Modern era. Snow was clearly on the side of the industrial-scientific revolution, and although he was a successful novelist, he clearly felt scientific ignorance was far worse than ignorance of the arts. This invited strong opposition from conservative critics of the emerging mass society, which placed a far higher premium on developing technical skills than human graces. 'The Two Cultures' thus drew a famously vitriolic attack from the literary critic F. R. Leavis who, amongst other things, characterized Snow as an 'intellectual nullity'. The clash was one in a series of battles since the Industrial Revolution, including 'the Romantic versus the Utilitarian, Coleridge versus Bentham, Arnold versus Huxley' (p. xxxv), and others.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Two Cultures by C P Snow 22 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book explains a part of our history which I had previously overlooked.

It was a very worth while read.
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Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
83 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Snow compares scientists and literary intellectuals. 24 July 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In today's society, Liberal Arts people call scientists "nerds." Scientists call liberal arts people "fuzzies" or "bohemians." Both hold misconceptions about each other that are sometimes true and sometimes not. This classic book talks about and tries to promote cooperation between these "two cultures." Writing about his experience as a person trained in science but pursuing a writing career, Snow precisely identifies the problems of the two cultures miscommunicating with each other. It was written in the late 1950s, in Britain, so the American reader might not understand all the references. Still, Snow's work has influenced a wide range of contemporary thinkers, and has been in no small part an influence on the "writing across the curriculum" movement in American universities. Whether you are interested in the humanities or the sciences, this book clearly will show you the tensions you will face dealing with the "other culture," and the problems such stereotypes pose for mod
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars historic document, with intro essay 24 Oct 2004
By Sam Torrisi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Two Cultures is probably more famous as an idea which ignited discussion than as the lecture it is. This edition of C.P. Snow's classic includes a brilliant introduction by Stefan Collini. I'm surprised that none of the other reviewers mention this portion of the edition, a substantial 64 pages, because for me it was the most interesting read. That is, only after having read The Two Cultures and a follow-up essay by Snow and pondered what may still apply today in his argument I went back and read the Collini. His introduction put Snow's work in its proper historical contexts (those of post-war Britain as well as Snow's own life) and updates us with some of the major points of the historical discourse that followed. I recommend that Collini's essay is read after Snow's, and together they make a very fine read.
46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far better than I thought 12 Mar 2004
By wiredweird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Every representation I've seen of this work was wrong, or so incomplete as to be gravely misleading. As usual, the glib sound-biters omit not only the interesting parts of the points they quote, they omit the real point of the essay.
If anyone reads the second half of this essay, they see that it writes about the widening gap between rich countries and poor - the technologically trained and untrained. Yes, Snow writes about the schism and even mutual suspicion between the communities of liberal arts and hard sciences. That's just a fact, at least as true now as it was 45 years ago. That is not what's interesting.
The consequence is what matters. Overpopulation, mass starvation, and destruction by war or disease are political problems. The solutions must involve tools provided by technology. The tragedy of "the two cultures" is the breakdown between the politicians who must wield the tools and the technologists who must create them. This is not about technology controlling the world, it is about creating a generation of thinkers who can reason about both social and technical problems. It is about education that allows people to examine the physical facts of the physical world that underly so many curable causes of human misery. It is about understanding the technology of possible solutions well enough to weigh the costs and rewards in a rational way.
As I write this, the 2000-era Bush administration is busy firing science advisors who don't give the "right" answer, is cancelling the space research programs that have given the largest volume of new knowledge, and creating new scorched-earth policies for environmental management. It's a problem not just in the US, but worldwide. This is exactly the failure that Snow hoped so fervently that educated men and women would have the wisdom to prevent.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only Essential Reading 16 Dec 2001
By Robert Carrington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book defines the irrational and dangerous gulf that divides our artistic-intellectual community from our scientific. Its first publication was explosive, its effect historic. Written with the grace of a major novelist and the elegance of pure scientist, it was, and is, an original. A true original. Of how many books can one say, "It changed the way we think?" This single, short book did exactly that. It does that still.
Let's call it a must read.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Arguments about taking social responsibility 29 Dec 2004
By Charles Ashbacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In this book, Sir Charles P. Snow examines what he sees as a splitting of the intelligentsia into two subcultures, the literary and the scientific. He cites anecdotal evidence of how ignorant literary figures are concerning fundamental scientific principles and how few works of literature have been read by the typical scientist. Snow is certainly qualified to see both sides of this issue. During World War II, he was in charge of the British program of scientific recruitment and is a first-class novelist. He also notes conservative/liberal tendencies among various groups within the scientific community.

He is of course correct, but the splitting is an inevitable consequence of the advance of science. As the amount of knowledge about a field of science grows, it takes more time and effort to succeed in the field. With the increase in commitment, there is less time for the individual to pursue other interests. However, that is not a wholly satisfactory excuse. Scientists are also part of the human condition and are almost always members of the advantaged class. Snow argues that they should be cognizant of the plight of the poor around the world and understand their moral obligation to try to alleviate poverty.

Scientists are often and justifiably considered to possess an intellectually narrow focus. Snow is very articulate in pointing out that society is damaged when some of the best and brightest remove themselves from the search for solutions to the current problems. Even though great advances have taken place in science in the forty years since Snow put forward these observations, they are just as valid as they were then. There is a lot of common ground between the literary and scientific communities, and Snow explains why it is critical that both sides occupy as much of it as possible. All people who are concerned with the problems of modern society should read this book.
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