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History Man:
The Life of R. G. Collingwood
Fred Inglis

Paperback | 2011 | $29.95 | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691150055
400 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 16 halftones.
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This is the first biography of the last and greatest British idealist philosopher, R. G. Collingwood (1889-1943), a man who both thought and lived at full pitch. Best known today for his philosophies of history and art, Collingwood was also a historian, archaeologist, sailor, artist, and musician. A figure of enormous energy and ambition, he took as his subject nothing less than the whole of human endeavor, and he lived in the same way, seeking to experience the complete range of human passion. In this vivid and swiftly paced narrative, Fred Inglis tells the dramatic story of a remarkable life, from Collingwood's happy Lakeland childhood to his successes at Oxford, his archaeological digs as a renowned authority on Roman Britain, his solo sailing adventures in the English Channel, his long struggle with illness, and his sometimes turbulent romantic life.

In a manner unheard of today, Collingwood attempted to gather all aspects of human thought into a single theory of practical experience, and he wrote sweeping accounts of history, art, science, politics, metaphysics, and archaeology, as well as a highly regarded autobiography. Above all, he dedicated his life to arguing that history--not science--is the only source of moral and political wisdom and self-knowledge.

Linking the intellectual and personal sides of Collingwood's life, and providing a rich history of his milieu, History Man also assesses Collingwood's influence on generations of scholars after his death and the renewed recognition of his importance and interest today.


"Inglis gives us a clear line of development from the thought of Vico and Croce to the philosophy of the later years with its crowning achievement in recognizing the need to historicize ideas rather than treat them as algebraic constraints. The story is enriched with an often riveting account of Collingwood's psychological difficulties and of his final challenge to posterity in his affair with Kathleen Edwardes and decision to become a father again as death beckoned."--Michael Bentley, Times Literary Supplement

"A warm-hearted, affectionate biography of an irascible but brilliant philosopher and historian. . . . By placing Collingwood in his context, Fred Inglis does much to rectify the slightly paranoid portrait of [Collingwood's] autobiography. Even if Collingwood was not the jovial, beer-drinking common man that Inglis would have liked him to be, it is good to see him brought some way back to the human fold."--Simon Blackburn, New Republic

"Vividly written biography. . . . Inglis's great achievement in this book is to apply the question-and-answer method to Collingwood's biography, the 'interpreted life' being no more susceptible to instant appraisal than the interpreted text."--Jonathan Derbyshire, Literary Review

"It is a strange fact that until the recent appearance of History Man: The Life of R. G. Collingwood, the world had no 'life' of the greatest philosopher of history writing in English, nor England's leading 20th-century philosopher of art, and no apparent attempt at one. . . . Fred Inglis' biography is a courageous act of cultural and intellectual re-contextualisation that should be applauded. . . . The prose moves with fluid ease, and the book is intensely readable, with much to reward non-philosophers and non-Collingwoodians interested in the educational, social and political history of the era."--Philip Smallwood, Times Higher Education

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Table of Contents:

Preface ix
Chapter 1: By Coniston Water 1
Chapter 2: Brought Up by Hand: The Moral Point of English Public Schools 34
Chapter 3: Oxford and the Admiralty: The Science of Human Affairs; God and the Devil 63
Chapter 4: Against the Realists: Liberalism and the Italians 101
Chapter 5: On Hadrian's Wall: "Question-and-Answer logic" 139
Illustrations, following page 166
Chapter 6: The Idea of the Ideas: The New Science 180
Chapter 7: "Fighting in the Daylight": Metaphysics against Fascism 210
Chapter 8: The Valley of the Shadows: Java, Oxford, Greece 247
Chapter 9: The Passionate Man's Pilgrimage: On Barbarism and Civilisation 288
Chapter 10: The Time of the Preacher: Collingwood's Resurrection 314
Abbreviations 349
Notes 351
Index 377

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