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Autobiography (Routledge Classics) Paperback – August 13, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0415473736 ISBN-10: 041547373X Edition: 1st

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Autobiography (Routledge Classics) + The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell (Routledge Classics) + The History of Western Philosophy
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Product Details

  • Series: Routledge Classics
  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (August 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 041547373X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415473736
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Riveting...the detailed expression of a mind of a genius in the making.
–Jessica Mitford

He is frank about himself--his acts, thoughts and emotions--as Pepys or Rousseau, and the book is, therefore, like theirs, an extraordinary psychological revelation.
–Leonard Woolf --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). A celebrated mathematician and logician, Russell was and remains one of the most genuinely widely read and popular philosophers of modern times.

More About the Author

Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970). Philosopher, mathematician, educational and sexual reformer, pacifist, prolific letter writer, author and columnist, Bertrand Russell was one of the most influential and widely known intellectual figures of the twentieth century. In 1950 he was awarded the Noble Prize for Literature in 1950 for his extensive contributions to world literature and for his "rationality and humanity, as a fearless champion of free speech and free thought in the West."

Customer Reviews

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I hope this helps someone make a decision.
D. M. Brokaw
In conclusion, be sure to read this autobiography and learn more about this extraordinary and unique man!!
Stephen Pletko
In this sense, it is perhaps Russell's most self-reflective work of philosophy.
Kenghis Khan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By P. Schumacher on November 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
Considering that Russell lived such a long life, and an eventful one, and that this book (a compilation of three volumes) covers most of it, it's a long one. But eminently worth it.
As always, Russell's style is brilliant. Simple yet deep, elegant and unadorned, always fresh and looking at things objectively yet with deep feeling.
The book is always informative, engaging, and frequently hilarious.
One of the nicer things about the book is the inclusion of some letters from others. Usually these are luminaries. The one from Will Durant, together with Russell's curt rejoinder, is marvelous.
Russell has the knack of taking what could become boastful incidents--his imprisonment for objecting to WWI, his hair-breadth escape when his plane went down near Norway in WWII--and turning them into humorous, self-effacing ones.
He also has the knack of talking about horrendous personal difficulties in a way that is objective and nonjudgmental.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Pletko on March 16, 2005
Format: Paperback

"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind...Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth."

This is how philosopher Bertrand Russell's (1872 to 1970) autobiography begins. This book (first published in three separate volumes) is brilliantly and simply written, emotionally charged, witty and wise, honest, and historically interesting. It spans almost a century of social and intellectual change. I would say that it is one of the great autobiographies in the English language from a man who was a towering intellectual and humanitarian figure of the twentieth century. As well, this book confirms why Russell, who authored more than seventy-five books, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950.

His prize according to the official Nobel Prize internet site was awarded "in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought."

Throughout his book, Russell describes his philosophical disputes and quarrels, his rise to honors, his many friendships with high profile people, and his religious and social self-questioning. He was a maverick that stuck to his convictions even if they got him into trouble (he was jailed at age 46 and again at 88). He never failed to stand up and be counted on any matter that stirred his conscience and ideals.

A highlight of this book is that it includes the actual letters between Lord or Earl Russell and a long list of influential people of his time (many whose names are easily recognized today) at the end of each chapter.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Kenghis Khan on December 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
One may hypothesize that all works of philosophy are in essence works of self-reflection. From blatant examples such as Augustine's "Confessions" to more subtle parts of Descartes' "Meditations," philosophers have often used their own experiences to help us understand the world we live in. In this sense, we can contrast to the former works the works of philosophers such as Aristotle or Heidegger who shy away from using the first person and deal with subject matters not only strictly of interest to the writer, but which seek to gain popular understanding. Bertrand Russell is a curious mixture of the two approaches. His committment to objectivity and to rigorous thought that is arguably impossible without a certain degree of "common ground" frequently seems to overshadow his own subjectivist foundations in which he approaches the questions of philosophy. In what is perhaps the most powerful two pages of the book, at the introduction, Russell outlines three primary principles that have motivitated him to do what he did in life. In a sense, then, the autobiography provides the reader with comforting answers as to why anybody would wish to live such an amazing life. In this sense, it is perhaps Russell's most self-reflective work of philosophy. The book is entertaining, the stories enjoyable, and the message deeply profound: how Russell came to appreciate the fields that he was interested in, and how he found the principles that guided his life. He had also been kind enough, in the edition I read, to include copies of letters of correspondence and pages from his diary as a youth.Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By D. M. Brokaw on March 11, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Caveat emptor: whilst this is a magnificent autobiography published in one quality volume by Routledge, any potential buyers should be aware of the very small type setting of this book. I am 31 years with 20/20 eyesight and I find it immensely difficult to read. Try this out: take a word document and change it to 10pt. Times New Roman font, single spaced, and imagine it on bright white copy, 3" wide paragraphs. I've repeatedly tried to read this book, but the effect is so hypnotic on the page such that I cannot. The font is reminiscent of (but worse than) those cheap paperback classics read in school, by Signet or some such version.
Since I do actually want to read this book, I am now in search of a readable copy. What does it matter to have it in one or two or six volumes, as long as I can appreciate the words? I am deprived of the pleasure of regarding the words on the page. I hope this helps someone make a decision.
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