E.H. Gombrich (2)

By a strange coincidence (or maybe it wasn’t), there was a long programme on Gombrich’s life last night on Radio 3 in which his grand-daughter talks about the archive: his time in impoverished Vienna in the 1920s where his father, Karl Gombrich, was a lawyer (‘interfering in other people’s affairs’); his upbringing as a Protestant; the growth of anti-semitism; his long and intellectually formative friendship with Karl Popper; his passionate interest in music, in some ways more than art, which he looked at intellectually; arriving in London as a research assistant at the Warburg Institute; monitoring enemy broadcasts in Evesham and developing an interest in the gestalt; turning down a job at the Albertina: dictating The Story of Art; his view of himself as a central European intellectual, his interest in the question of explanation and his belief in the inadequacy of explanations. Above all, it was good to hear his voice, cautious, burred, heavily accented, but with great intellectual authority.

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