Intellectual Immigration and the English Idiom (Or, a Tale of Bustards and Eagles)
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University of Portsmouth
Publication date: 2006-09-30
Polish Sociological Review 2006;155(3):275-292
Although English intellectual life frequently operates according to a story that stresses openness to ideals and thinkers from abroad, it is also the case that not all arrivals are equally welcomed. That was the fate that befell Zygmunt Bauman when he took up the Chair of Sociology at the University of Leeds in 1971. His first publication after his arrival was the English language translation of Klasa—ruch—elita: Studium socjologiczne dziejo´w angieskiego ruchu robotniczego, which had been originally published in Poland in 1960. The book was subjected to a hostile review by E. P. Thompson, and this paper seeks to understand the stakes of the attack. It is contended that Thompson’s review, along with his Open Letter to Leszek Kołakowski, reflects quite how open English intellectual life can be. This essay consequently looks in two directions; it is a specific analysis of the early English reception of Bauman’s work and also more generally a study of the parameters of the English intellectual idiom.
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