- Paperback: 760 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (May 6, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 041522862X
- ISBN-13: 978-0415228626
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.7 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #797,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell 2nd Edition
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"Riveting...the detailed expression of a mind of a genius in the making."
"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."
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to cover too many aspects of his extremely busy life, which leads to quite
scant and superficial descriptions. About half of the volume is taken up
by letters to and from Russell, which soon become too tedious to read.
Significant focus on his later-year commitments to nuclear disarmament.
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.
"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. As well, illustrations (mainly in the form of black and white photographs) are found throughout.
Even though this autobiography is to me brutally honest (for example, "I used to...watch the sunset and contemplate suicide. I did not...commit suicide because I wished to know more of mathematics"), I felt that Russell was holding back on revealing certain aspects of his life.
Finally, the last words in Russell's autobiography are found in the postscript:
"I have lived in the pursuit of vision, both personal and social. Personal: to care for what is noble, for what is beautiful, and for what is gentle; to allow moments of insight to give wisdom at more mundane times. Social: to see in imagination the society that is to be created, where individuals grow freely, and where hate and greed and envy die because there is nothing to nourish them. These things I believe."
In conclusion, be sure to read this autobiography and learn more about this extraordinary and unique man!!
(first published 1967-1969; acknowledgements; introduction; 17 chapters; postscript; main narrative of 730 pages; index)