‘I have come to think that one of the main causes of trouble in the world is dogmatic and fanatical belief in some doctrine for which there is no adequate evidence.’ – Bertrand Russell, Portraits from Memory
Portraits from Memory is one of Bertrand Russell’s most self-reflective and engaging books. Whilst not intended as an autobiography, it is a vivid recollection of some of his celebrated contemporaries, such as George Bernard Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb and D. H. Lawrence. Russell provides some arresting and sometimes amusing insights into writers with whom he corresponded. He was fascinated by Joseph Conrad, with whom he formed a strong emotional bond, writing that his Heart of Darkness was not just a story but an expression of Conrad’s ‘philosophy of life’. There are also some typically pithy Russellian observations; H. G. Wells ‘derived his importance from quantity rather than quality’, whilst after a brief and fraught friendship Russell thought D. H. Lawrence ‘had no real wish to make the world better, but only to indulge in eloquent soliloquy about how bad it was’.
This engaging book also includes some of Russell’s customary razor-sharp essays on a rich array of subjects, from his ardent pacifism, liberal politics and morality to the ethics of education, the skills of good writing and how he came to philosophy as a young man. These include ‘A Plea for Clear Thinking’, ‘A Philosophy for Our Time’ and ‘How I Write’.
Portraits from Memory is Russell at his best and will enthrall those new to Russell as well as those already well-acquainted with his work.
This Routledge Classics edition includes a new foreword by the Russell scholar Nicholas Griffin, editor of The Selected Letters of Bertrand Russell.
Table of Contents
Foreword to the Routledge Classics Edition Nicholas Griffin
1. Adaptation: An Autobiographical Epitome
2. Six Autobiographical Talks
3. How to Grow Old
4. Reflections on my Eightieth Birthday
5. Portraits from Memory
6. Lord John Russell
7. John Stuart Mill
8. Mind and Matter
9. The Cult of "Common Usage"
10. Knowledge and Wisdom
11. A Philosophy for Our Time
12. A Plea for Clear Thinking
13. History as an Art
14. How I Write
15. The Road to Happiness
16. Symptoms of Orwell's 1984
17. Why I am Not a Communist
18. Man's Peril
19. Steps Towards Peace.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). A celebrated mathematician and logician, Russell was and remains one of the most genuinely widely read and popular philosophers of modern times.