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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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... acting on human instinct. The resulting meetings are much better rendered by Ignatieff than by György Dalos. 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 diaspora with those, like Akhmatova, who had decided ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1998, 21 January 1999

... and it’s a contemporary cliché. 30 September. Finish reading The Guest from the Future by György Dalos, 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 authorities. Neither the poet nor the philosopher comes out ...

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