Ernst Gombrich (1)

I was reading Peter Conrad’s review of the English edition of Ernst Gombrich’s A Little History of the World  yesterday and I was struck, for obvious reasons, by his view towards the end of his life of British attitudes to our continental neighbours, as described by his granddaughter.   Apparently, ‘Before his death, he thought that the English were perhaps warming up to this lump of land just across the channel. John Major was less hostile to Europe than Margaret Thatcher, and the budget airlines opened up a wider world. I remember him being surprised that his cleaning lady was going on holiday to exotic destinations. So he agreed to an English edition, though he didn’t live long enough to add the chapter on Shakespeare that he had in mind.’

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One thought on “Ernst Gombrich (1)

  1. A Little History of the World is an example of Gombrich’s work as a historian ‘tout court’, which you note he aspired to be.

    I believe the English/British engagement with, and affinity for, the rest of Europe – and now the former Soviet Bloc countries – continues to increase. But we need to differentiate this from attitudes towards its associated and modern political institutions, around which our attitudes are clearly more mixed.

    However, I do wish there were more intellectual and political engagement with the rest of Europe, citizen-to-citizen (as well as the extensive engagement that exists between academics and researchers). This has been the case at many times, particularly around times of political turmoil, such as immediately after the French Revolution, the period before WW1, and the 1930s. But even ‘pro-European’ citizens don’t seem to be engaged politically and intellectually with their fellow EU citizens.

    Meanwhile, Carl Gombrich has co-founded the London Interdisciplinary School [https://www.londoninterdisciplinaryschool.org/], where he is Academic Lead, and which is currently recruiting for students.

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