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Moderation or Death

Christopher Hitchens: Isaiah Berlin

26 November 1998
Isaiah Berlin: A Life 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 386 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7011 6325 9
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The Guest from the Future: Anna Akhmatova and Isaiah Berlin 
by György Dalos.
Murray, 250 pp., £17.95, September 2002, 0 7195 5476 4
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... therefore, Berlin stepped out of his usual cocoon. He was taking a risk, leaving everything to chance, acting on human instinct. The resulting meetings are much better rendered by Ignatieff than by GyörgyDalos. Not only was Berlin, in a later phrase of an Akhmatova poem, ‘the guest from the future’, he was also a revenant from the past and a catalyst for the fusion of the Russian intellectual ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1998

21 January 1999
... any time in the last forty years; one just needs to substitute ‘TV’ for ‘a general society’ and it’s a contemporary cliché. 30 September. Finish reading The Guest from the Future by GyörgyDalos, an account of Isaiah Berlin’s visit to Anna Akhmatova in Moscow in November 1945 and its disastrous repercussions on Akhmatova’s career, or, at any rate, on her relations with the ...

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