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  • GREG CONTI (a1) and CHERYL WELCH (a1)

That Elie Halévy's The Growth of Philosophical Radicalism is a classic text of history and theory is a judgment repeated too often to be in doubt. But what makes it a classic? The most obvious sign—that it is widely recommended as a standard work in its field generations after its publication—raises the question of why and how a text becomes a leading work or “master” piece. Literary classics are sometimes said to fuse style, substance, and significance in a mysterious alchemy that continues to stimulate thought beyond the original context. Similarly, discussions of historical works that enlarge the imagination sometimes center on the literary qualities of these texts. Most famously, Hayden White dwells on their allegedly fruitful exploitation of a preexisting “linguistic protocol” such as tragedy or irony. White also notes, however, that a necessary condition for any work of history to resonate powerfully with its audience is that readers are subconsciously prepared to be moved by it.

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Mary Morris , Journal of Philosophy, 26 (1929), 414–17, 414

John V. Orth , “On the Relation between the Rule of Law and Public Opinion. Review of The Rule of Law: Albert Venn Dicey, Victorian Jurist by Richard A. Cosgrove,” Michigan Law Review, 80 (1982), 753–64, 755

R. Latta , “Book Reviews: The English Utilitarians by Leslie Stephen,” International Journal of Ethics, 12 (1902), 376–89, 376

H. W. Wright , “The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism by Elie Halévy, Mary Morris,” Philosophical Review, 39 (1930), 92–5

Cyprian Blamires , The French Revolution and the Creation of Benthamism (New York, 2008), 254

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Modern Intellectual History
  • ISSN: 1479-2443
  • EISSN: 1479-2451
  • URL: /core/journals/modern-intellectual-history
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