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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 6 Sept. 2009
This review is from: In Praise of Idleness: And Other Essays (Routledge Classics) (Paperback)
This book is a collection of essays which contain some musings, thoughts and nuggets of wisdom from Mr. Russell pertaining to our lifestyles. The essays were all written circa the 1930's so it's important that this book is read more as a classical text rather than a modern life reference point.

Many of the points Russell makes are of course persistent truths. This includes his ideas of the pleasure of knowledge, discovery and wonder. Others perhaps a bit more unorthodox for example his idea of increasing communal space and decreasing private space based on the logic there would be less work for people do, or his idea that people should only work four hours a day on the basis that this would create more jobs for people and then more leisure for everyone.

In making his points Russell's references a very wide range of other cultures and historical reference points; from King Kaniska to Aristides; from Hammurabi to Peter the Great; and from Marco Polo to Fitche. Obviously this makes the book very interesting but I must say as an Irish person I was perturbed with his remark that the "British had inflicted civilization upon (the Irish) for 800 years". Unfortunately I think his usual clinical thinking has let him down here. I don't think a man of his intellect and genuine caring for the state of human welfare could possibly forget about a million people who were ignored by an uncaring British government as they starved to death. So, I thought this remark was completly out of character for Russell especially as he goes go to great lengths in the book to show the folly of nationalism (which effectively refutes an anglophile stance) and his writings are generally very humanistic in nature.

Put the gross misjudgement of Anglo - Irish history aside, I think it's still a very good book. Obviously there's too many points to cover in a brief review but I'm sure there's plenty to stimulate the minds of most readers.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 May 2011 22:10:47 BDT
Alex, you've misunderstood Russell. He regarded England as having oppressed Ireland for centuries; that's what he meant by 'inflicting civilisation' - he was being sarcastic.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 May 2011 22:41:42 BDT
Alex Ireland says:
That's very interesting. It looks like I missed the sarcasm! I'm a big Russell fan btw.

Posted on 20 Mar 2014 22:18:57 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Mar 2014 22:19:19 GMT
yeah the word 'inflicted' implies imposing a bad thing on someone.
So he views that whatever the British imposed on the Irish as a bad thing.
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