Dream of the Seventh Dominion

Stefan Collini

  • Lewis Namier and Zionism by Norman Rose
    Oxford, 182 pp, £9.95, October 1980, ISBN 0 19 822621 7
  • Personal Impressions by Isaiah Berlin
    Hogarth, 219 pp, £9.50, October 1980, ISBN 0 7012 0510 5

At All Souls in 1932, Lewis Namier provoked Isaiah Berlin by scornfully dismissing the history of ideas – dismissing it in German, though the rest of the conversation (or rather harangue) was conducted in English – as ‘what one Jew cribs from another’. But for some unpredictable migrations and a few world-historical hiccups in the previous decades, this exchange might have been taking place – quite possibly in French – in, say, Warsaw or St Petersburg. One could no doubt imagine other circumstances which would have resulted in few English readers now being interested in the opinions of Ludwik Bernsztajn Niemirowski (he had, in fact, already changed this name twice by the time he became a British subject in 1913). Yet the distinctive flavour of the scene depends upon the Englishness of its setting, in an intellectual as well as a physical sense.

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