The third of four volumes of Isaiah Berlin's interesting and philosophical lettersby Jonathan Derbyshire / June 19, 2013 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2013 issue of Prospect Magazine
Building: Letters 1960-1975
by Isaiah Berlin (Chatto & Windus, £40)
In a 1967 letter to Arthur Schlesinger, Isaiah Berlin describes the “looks” directed towards him at a lunch in Oxford when the visiting Robert Kennedy had conveyed greetings from a mutual friend. “My colleagues…had always suspected that I moved in some social world not wholly identical with theirs.”
Many of the letters collected in this volume (the third of four) tend to confirm his colleagues’ suspicions. For example, in one short note to his wife sent from New Delhi, where he was attending a conference, Berlin says that he’d met the conductor George Solti on the plane and had “invited him vaguely to lunch” (one savours that “vaguely”). In another, he sends gushing thanks, from his suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Boston, to Jacqueline Kennedy for an invitation to the White House (“the most memorable evening I have spent in the United States”).