1st Edition

George Santayana A Biography

By John Rodden Copyright 2003
    638 Pages
    by Routledge

    640 Pages
    by Routledge

    From the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth, George Santayana was a highly esteemed and widely read writer of philosophy, poetry, essays, memoirs, and even a best-selling novel, The Last Puritan. After a period of relative neglect, interest in his work has revived. A complete edited edition of his works is in progress and he has become the object of renewed scholarly activity. Contributing significantly to the renewal was John McCormick's 1987 biography, the first full-scale volume to treat an elusive figure's life and thought in the detail they deserve.

    Santayana's life was rich in its interior and outer associations. There was his birth and early childhood in Spain followed by a move to Boston, where he came under the influence of William James at Harvard. This led to his career at Harvard as a professor, where Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Conrad Aiken, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Walter Lippmann were among his devoted students. We see Santayana in correspondence and conversation with Bertrand Russell, G.E. Moore, Ezra Pound, and Robert Lowell.

    Predominant in Santayana's life was his philosophical work. Hostile to the dominant empiricism of Anglo-American philosophy, he left the academy and remained detached from both the political and ideological movements of early decades of the twentieth century. McCormick relates his skepticism and materialism to a form of idealism deriving from his classical education in Plato and Aristotle, together with his readings in Descartes and Spinoza. He presents Santayana as a supreme stylist in English, who lived a long life always consistent with his stoic epicureanism.

    Introduction; George Santayana; 1: Origins; 2: From Avila to Boston; 3: Harvard College Class of ’86; 4: Bachelor of Arts; 5: Mugging in A Hole: 1887-88; 6: The Uneasy Apprenticeship; 7: In Eliots Kingdom; 8: Santayana, Poet; 9: The Sense of Beauty: 1896-1902; 10: Reason in Common Sense; 11: Reason in Society in Religion, in Art; 12: Reason in Science; 13: Professor Santayana; 14: An Unfond Farewell; 15: The Dark Riddle 1914; 16: Mechanic War; 17: The Fifth Wash of the Tea; 18: Scepticism and Animal Faith; 19: The Realm of Essence; 20: Some Persons and Certain Places; 21: On the Turn; 22: Some Turns of Thought; 23: The Life and Death of Oliver Alden; 24: The Realm of Truth; 25: Moral Dogmatism; 26: 1939: War Again; 27: In the Course of Nature; 28: Enter Ezra Pound, Followed by T S. Eliot; 29: Wartime Italy; 30: The Tiger of the Flesh: 1945-46; 31: Santayana and Robert Lowell; 32: Among Crude Captains; 33: Dominations, Powers, and Unofficial Pupils; 34: All to the Furrow, Nothing to the Grave; Appendixes; Appendix A: A Married Couple; Appendix B: Santayana’s Marginalia to Jean-Christophe; Appendix C: Santayana as Screenwriter


    John McCormick