The Sense of Reality
Studies in Ideas and Their History
Isaiah Berlin
Edited by Henry Hardy
With a new foreword by Timothy Snyder

Editions

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

“For anyone wanting to understand the twists and turns of the history of ideas, this book will be indispensable.”
―John Gray, New York Times Book Review

The Sense of Reality was the last new collection of essays published by Isaiah Berlin in his lifetime. All informed by Berlin’s lifelong fascination with the history of ideas, these engaging studies range widely: the subjects explored include realism in history; judgment in politics; the history of socialism; the nature and impact of Marxism; the radical cultural revolution instigated by the Romantics; Russian notions of artistic commitment; and the origins and practice of nationalism. The title essay, taking its cue from the impossibility of recreating a bygone epoch, is a superb centerpiece. Now with a new foreword by Timothy Snyder and a new appendix comprising a previously unpublished essay on the great Russian critic Vissarion Belinksy and a previously uncollected lecture on utopianism, The Sense of Reality is a rich and illuminating collection from one of the most seductive writers and thinkers of the twentieth century.

Isaiah Berlin (1909–1997) was one of the leading intellectual historians of the twentieth century and the founding president of Wolfson College, University of Oxford. His many books include The Hedgehog and the Fox and The Crooked Timber of Humanity (both Princeton).