Treason of the Intellectuals (Paperback)
In an era when intellectual and artistic life is increasingly being distorted by political dogmatism, Julien Benda's Treason of the Intellectuals is a classic that speaks with a new and extraordinary urgency. Benda's essay, published by ERIS in a new translation by David Broder, offers an incisive account of interwar Europe that ranges from the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche and Georges Sorel to the activities of Charles Maurras and Benito Mussolini. It also serves, however, as a remarkably timely warning against the seduction of modern intellectuals by tribal loyalties and antipathies.Rather than detaching themselves from communal ties as their forebears had done, Benda argues that twentieth-century European intellectuals willingly subordinated the disinterested pursuit of truth to the servicing of group interests (particularly the interests of their own nations and social classes). Partisan agendas had a corrosive effect not only on moral and political philosophy, but also on the writing of history and fiction. With its penetrating analyses of nationalism and of the tensions between group identity and intellectual freedom, Treason of the Intellectuals is as necessary a book in the twenty-first century as it was in the twentieth.
About the Author
Julien Benda (1867-1956) was a novelist and critic. His polemical writings ranged from Dialogues in Byzantium (on the Dreyfus affair) to an appraisal of the philosophy of Henri Bergson; in later life he was a fierce critic of the Vichy Republic. Among his other books are The Yoke of Pity, Uriel's Report, and Exercises of a Man Buried Alive. David Broder is a widely published translator and the author of First They Took Rome: How the Populist Right Conquered Italy. He is currently Europe Editor at Jacobin. Mark Lilla is Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University and a prizewinning essayist for The New York Review of Books and other publications worldwide. His books include The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction; The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West; The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics; and The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.