Liberty is a revised and expanded edition of the book that Isaiah Berlin regarded as his most important--Four Essays on Liberty, a standard text of liberalism, constantly in demand and constantly discussed since it was first published in 1969. Writing in Harper's, Irving Howe described it as "an exhilarating performance--this, one tells oneself, is what the life of the mind can be." Berlin's editor Henry Hardy has revised the text, incorporating a fifth essay that Berlin himself had wanted to include. He has also added further pieces that bear on the same topic, so that Berlin's principal statements on liberty are at last available together in one volume. Finally, in an extended preface and in appendices drawn from Berlin's unpublished writings, he exhibits some of the biographical sources of Berlin's lifelong preoccupation with liberalism. These additions help us to grasp the nature of Berlin's "inner citadel," as he called it--the core of personal conviction from which some of his most influential writing sprang.
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Isaiah Berlin was a Fellow of All Souls and New College, Professor of Social and Political Theory, and founding President of Wolfson College. He also held the Presidency of the British Academy. He died in 1997. Henry Hardy is a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, and is one of Isaiah Berlin's Literary Trustees. He has edited several other books by Berlin, and is currently preparing his letters and his remaining unpublished writings for publication.
From reviews of Four Essays on Liberty:
"[P]ractically every paragraph introduces us to half a dozen new ideas and as many thinkers--the landscape flashes past, peopled with familiar and unfamiliar people, all arguing incessantly. It is all a very long way from the austere eloquence of Mill's marvellous essay On Liberty, with which this collection's title seems to challenge comparison; but it is a measure of the stature of these essays that they stand such a comparison."--Alan Ryan, New Society
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