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Life after Life

Jonathan Rée: Collingwood

20 January 2000
An Essay on Metaphysics 
by R.G. Collingwood, edited by Rex Martin.
Oxford, 439 pp., £48, July 1998, 0 19 823561 5
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The New Leviathan 
by R.G. Collingwood, edited by David Boucher.
Oxford, 525 pp., £17.99, March 1999, 0 19 823880 0
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The Principles of History 
by R.G. Collingwood, edited by W.H. Dray and W.J. van der Dussen.
Oxford, 293 pp., £48, March 1999, 0 19 823703 0
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... purpose of my profession’. It was a profession he did not like. He was a philosopher by trade, but despite having a covetable job as Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Oxford, Robin Collingwood disliked college life and despised academic forms of thought and writing, especially in philosophy. If the responsibilities attached to his job were performed expeditiously, it was only because he ...

A Few Home Truths

Jonathan Rée: R.G. Collingwood

18 June 2014
R.G. Collingwood‘An Autobiography’ and Other Writings, with Essays on Collingwood’s Life and Work 
edited by David Boucher and Teresa Smith.
Oxford, 581 pp., £65, December 2013, 978 0 19 958603 5
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... An Autobiography​ ’ by R.G.Collingwood must be one of the most popular philosophical books in the English language, but when it was published in 1939, it was not expected to do well. Collingwood warned Oxford University Press that it was ‘destitute of all that makes autobiography saleable’. It was going to be a ‘dead loss’, he said, and in a preface he offered a pre-emptive apology ...
16 August 1990
Essays in political Philosophy 
by R.G. Collingwood, edited by David Boucher.
Oxford, 237 pp., £25, November 1989, 0 19 824823 7
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The Social and Political Thought of R.G.​ Collingwood 
by David Boucher.
Cambridge, 300 pp., £27.50, November 1989, 0 521 36384 5
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... Robin Collingwood (1889-1943) was born 17 years after Bertrand Russell and died 27 years before him. Given the style and content of Collingwood’s philosophical work, this fact ought to seem surprising. For there is no apparent mark of Russell’s influence, nor of those who influenced him, upon Collingwood’s own philosophical corpus. For ...

No More Scissors and Paste

Mary Beard: R.G. Collingwood

25 March 2010
History Man: The Life of R.G.​ Collingwood 
by Fred Inglis.
Princeton, 385 pp., £23.95, 0 691 13014 0
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... In February 1938, R. G. Collingwood, then Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Oxford and aged only 48, suffered a small stroke. It was the first of a series, each one more serious than the last, that would kill him within ...

Examples

Denis Donoghue

2 February 1984
Towards 2000 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 273 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780701126858
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Writing in Society 
by Raymond Williams.
Verso, 268 pp., £18.50, December 1983, 0 86091 072 5
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Radical Earnestness: English Social Theory 1880-1980 
by Fred Inglis.
Martin Robertson, 253 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 85520 328 5
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... and a general preference for non-systematised or pluralist theories of political life’. The writers Inglis presents under this rubric are William Morris, T.H. Green, John Maynard Keynes, R.G.Collingwood, F.R. Leavis, George Orwell, Adrian Stokes, Tony Crosland – as he calls him – Richard Titmuss, Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, John Berger, E.P. Thompson and Isaiah Berlin. If you need a ...
8 September 1994
A Pitch of Philosophy: Autobiographical Exercises 
by Stanley Cavell.
Harvard, 196 pp., £20.75, July 1994, 0 674 66980 0
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... Despite obvious exceptions – memoirs by John Stuart Mill and R.G.Collingwood, confessions by St Augustine and Jean-Jacques Rousseau – autobiography is not a genre that comes naturally to most philosophers. The typical modern philosopher – the Kant of the three critiques ...

Is It Glamorous?

David Simpson: Stefan Collini among the Intellectuals

6 March 2008
Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain 
by Stefan Collini.
Oxford, 544 pp., £16.99, July 2005, 0 19 929105 5
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... Berlin conference. But not every intellectual has been comfortable when arguing against extreme positions, or when the mark of approval goes only to those with average views. Take the case of R.G.Collingwood, who had no radio or television career and did not write for the newspapers, who was an exceptional scholar and philosopher, but who never lived up to his own expectations, and who figures here as an ...

So Much Smoke

Tom Shippey: King Arthur

20 December 2018
King Arthur: the Making of the Legend 
by Nicholas Higham.
Yale, 380 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 300 21092 7
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... as patrons of poets and chroniclers. But were there any in Britain back in, say, the sixth century? Are they not just a medieval anachronism?The answer to this seems to have been first given by R.G.Collingwood, in a few ill-advised sentences at the very end of his section of the Oxford volume on Roman Britain and the English Settlements. There he suggested that Artorius/Arthur could have been the commander ...

Victorian Piles

David Cannadine

18 March 1982
The Albert Memorial: The Monument in its Social and Architectural Context 
by Stephen Bayley.
Scholar Press, 160 pp., £18.50, September 1981, 0 85967 594 7
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Victorian and Edwardian Town Halls 
by Colin Cunningham.
Routledge, 315 pp., £25, July 1981, 9780710007230
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... as ‘a confection of gingerbread which ought to be under a glass shade on a giant’s mantlepiece’. Osbert Sitwell, by contrast, thought it a ‘wistful, unique monument of widowhood’, but R.G.Collingwood found it to be ‘visibly misshapen, corrupt, crawling, verminous’. Hermione Gingold, on the other hand, presumably unaware of this swingeing condemnation, wanted to take it to her Desert Island ...
23 February 1995
Edward Gibbon: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vols I-VI 
edited by David Womersley.
Allen Lane, 1114 pp., £75, November 1994, 0 7139 9124 0
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... by the historian of late Antiquity, who read him to see where he was right and where wrong. Bury therefore retained Gibbon’s footnotes, but reinforced them with notes of his own – provoking R.G.Collingwood, for whom Gibbon was himself a phenomenon of living history, to remark that this was like playing an Elizabethan madrigal with a saxophone obbligato – and he supplied an Introduction studded with ...
25 January 2001
A Vision of the Middle East: An Intellectual Biography of Albert Hourani 
by Abdulaziz Al-Sudairi.
Tauris, 221 pp., £12.99, January 2000, 9781860645815
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... identified with Islamic culture: ‘Islam was what the Arabs had done in history.’ Although Sudairi does not discuss it, Hourani was also strongly influenced by the lectures and writings of R.G.Collingwood, for whom history and the philosophy of mind were a single subject: in studying the past, one was studying the mind and its ways of knowing. ‘History is the re-enactment in the historian’s mind ...

Builder of Ruins

Mary Beard: Arthur Evans

30 November 2000
Minotaur: Sir Arthur Evans and the Archaeology of the Minoan Myth 
by J.A. MacGillivray.
Cape, 313 pp., £20, August 2000, 0 224 04352 8
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... nor the only one to feel uneasy about Evans’s role as a ‘builder of ruins’ (as one French newspaper called him) on the site itself. In Minotaur, J.A. MacGillivray quotes the reaction of R.G.Collingwood, who declared that ‘the first impression on the mind of a visitor is that Knossian architecture consists of garages and public lavatories.’ There were plenty of other comments along similar lines ...
17 July 1997
W.H. Auden: Prose 1926-38, Essays and Reviews and Travel Books in Prose and Verse 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Faber, 836 pp., £40, March 1997, 0 571 17899 5
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... of his thinking, one that doesn’t become fully articulated for another ten years, in a famous phrase from his review of Eliot’s A Choice of Kipling’s Verse: ‘Art, as the late Professor R.G.Collingwood pointed out, is not Magic, i.e. a means by which the artist communicates or arouses his feelings in others, but a mirror in which they may become conscious of what their own feelings really are: its ...

Sagest of Usurpers

Ian Gilmour: Cromwell since Cromwell

21 March 2002
Roundhead Reputations: The English Civil Wars and the Passions of Posterity 
by Blair Worden.
Allen Lane, 387 pp., £20, November 2001, 9780713996036
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... ago, in his History as the Story of Liberty, Benedetto Croce made the famous claim that ‘all history is contemporary history.’ Earlier, Michael Oakeshott had said much the same thing, as did R.G.Collingwood a few years later. Worden does not quote or mention any of them, but as well as many other things his compelling book is in a sense a learned and lively commentary on Croce’s dictum. In accordance ...

Works of Art

Peter Lamarque

2 April 1981
Art and Its Objects 
by Richard Wollheim.
Cambridge, 270 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 0 521 22898 0
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Works and Worlds of Art 
by Nicholas Wolterstorff.
Oxford, 372 pp., £20, December 1980, 0 19 824419 3
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... by some individual works of art but could not be possessed by any physical object? And what about more radical theories, such as those of the Idealist school associated with Benedetto Croce and R.G.Collingwood, which identify all works of art with some inner state of mind of the artist? Wollheim argues that there is nothing in these objections that forces us to conclude that no works of art can be physical ...

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