Élie Halévy Criticism - Essay

C. E. Fryer (review date 1913)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Histoire de Peuple Anglais au XIXe Siecle, Vol. I, in The American Historical Review, Vol. XVIII, No. 2, January, 1913, pp. 367-68.

[In the following review, Fryer praises the originality of Halévy's thesis concerning nineteenth-century English history, while acknowledging the logical shortcomings of his arguments.]

This volume [Histoire du Peuple Anglais au XIXe Siècle. Tome I. L'Angleterre en 1815] is the first of four projected by M. Halévy as a history of the English people in the nineteenth century. The undertaking is monumental. It deserves notice because M. Halévy is one of the first writers to essay a definitive synthesis of the monograph material for the period. But, to judge from this first installment, his interpretation will disregard traditional views and offer suggestions that are quite new. Already, in this introductory volume, dealing with English society at the close of the Napoleonic struggle, he advances a theory the originality of which is apparent. He is trying to determine why England, in contrast to the Continental states of Europe, has enjoyed throughout the nineteenth century a public opinion that invariably maintains itself within conservative and non-revolutionary limits. The question draws from M. Halévy an exhaustive review of the institutional side of English life—this being the substance of the first volume.

The commonplace view that English political institutions make for stability he rejects entirely: in the sphere of economics he sees in distribution,...

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H. W. C. Davis (review date 1927)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Histoire du Peuple Anglais au XIXe Siecle: Epilogue, in History, October, 1927, pp. 269-70.

[In the following review, Davis surveys the major points of Halévy's Histoire du peuple anglais au XIXe siècle.]

M. Halévy has turned aside (not, we hope, indefinitely) from his great work on nineteenth-century England to write the epilogue of that unfinished story. The epilogue [of Histoire du Peuple Anglais au XIXe Siècle] is by no means an improvisation. It has been simmering in his mind for thirty years, and its materials have been laboriously collected in the course of his duties as a teacher at the...

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Emery Neff (review date 1929)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Growth of Philosophical Radicalism, in The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. XXVI, No. 15, July 18, 1929, pp. 414-17.

[In the following review, Neff notes the historical and philosophical significance of Halévy's study of English Utilitarianism, The Growth of Philosophical Radicalism.]

The appearance of M. Halévy's Formation du Radicalisme Philosophique in English twenty-five years after its publication may be taken as discouraging evidence of the slowness of international communication of ideas. Or it may seem rather the more discouraging that a translation should be necessary to introduce so important a work on an English subject to...

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D. C. Somervell (review date 1933)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Histoire de Peuple Anglais au XIXe Siecle: Epilogue, in History, Vol. XVIII, No. 71, October, 1933, pp. 275-76.

[In the following review of the Epilogue and second volume of Halévy's Histoire du peuple anglais au XIXe siècle, Somervell observes a few minor errors in what he calls “a truly admirable piece of work.”]

The qualities of M. Halévy's splendid History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century have been made known by previous volumes. The first was an elaborate panorama of English Society in 1815. Two volumes then followed carrying the story down to 1841, at which point the author broke off in...

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Ernest Barker (essay date 1938)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Élie Halévy,” in The English Historical Review, Vol. LIII, No. CCIX, January, 1938, pp. 79-87.

[In the following essay, Barker recounts Halévy's life and work as a historian and philosopher.]

Élie Halévy was born at Etretat on 6 September 1870, two days after the proclamation of the French Republic. (His mother had fled there from Paris before the final advance of the German armies.) His father, Ludovic (1834-1908), the nephew of a famous Jewish composer of operas, was himself a writer of libretti, especially for the music of Offenbach; and indeed music was a tradition in the family. But Ludovic Halévy was a man of many sides. He had inherited from...

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J. R. M. Butler (review date 1948)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Élie Halévy,” in The English Historical Review, Vol. LIII, No. CCIX, January, 1948, pp. 79-87.

[In the following review, Butler examines the principal themes of Halévy's study of England from 1841 to 1852, including the triumphs of free trade and the middle class.]

When Professor Élie Halévy brought out the third volume of his well-known history in 1923, it was his intention to complete the work in four more volumes, of which the next to appear would be entitled ‘La politique libre-échangiste (1841-1865)’, and the last would bring the story down to 1895. The volumes, however, which in fact appeared next, in 1926 and 1932, were not those...

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W. L. Burn (review date 1948)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Histoire de Peuple Anglais au XIXe Siecle, Vol. IV, in History, Vol. Nos. 117 & 118, February & June, 1948, pp. 155-57.

[In the following review of Histoire, volume four, Burn acknowledges the considerable importance of Halévy's work to the study of English history, and notes the subjects left unexamined after Halévy's death.]

We cannot read this book [Histoire du peuple anglais au xixe siècle: Pt. iv. Le milieu du siècle, 1841-52.] without feeling more acutely than ever before, the damaging effect upon the study of English history of Élie Halévy's death in August 1937. It is as though one saw the...

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R. K. Webb (essay date 1965)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A preface to The Era of Tyrannies, by Élie Halévy, translated by R. K. Webb, Anchor Books, 1965, pp. vii-xvii.

[In the following preface to his translation of The Era of Tyrannies, Webb discusses the method of Halévy's sociological writing.]

Élie Halévy (1870-1937) is best known to American and English readers for his contributions to our knowledge of English history from the end of the eighteenth century to the twentieth century, contributions with a scope, power, and influence unmatched by the work of any English historian of the period. But the English-speaking world has remained largely unaware of Halévy's equally strong interest in socialism....

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Gertrude Himmelfarb (essay date 1968)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Victorian Ethos: Before and After Victoria,” in Victorian Minds, Alfred A. Knopf, 1968, pp. 275-99.

[In the following essay, Himmelfarb presents a view of Victorian England informed by Halévy's historical thesis, then proceeds to examine contemporary analysis of this thesis.]

Where once it was the fashion to vilify “Victorianism,” today one might be tempted to deny that there had ever been such a thing. The period, one might argue, was too long, the tempo of change too rapid, the cast of characters too motley to permit of generalization. How can we lump together sixty-four years of economic, political, social, and cultural revolution? How can we...

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J. D. Walsh (essay date 1975)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Élie Halévy and the Birth of Methodism,” in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Vol. 25, 1975, pp. 1-20.

[In the following essay, Walsh evaluates Halévy's observations on the creation and growth of the Methodist movement in 1738-39.]

Probably the most famous passages in Halévy's work are those attributing England's immunity from revolution after 1789 to the influence of Methodism. The ‘Halévy thesis’ encouraged, though it did not begin, a debate which still fizzes, jumps and occasionally explodes. Little attention has been given to Halévy's first essay in Methodist history, The Birth of Methodism in England, which appeared in...

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Francisco Vergara (essay date 1998)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “A Critique of Elie Halévy,” in Philosophy, Vol. 73, No. 283, January, 1998, pp. 97-111.

[In the following essay, Vergara maintains that Halévy, in his Growth of Philosophical Radicalism, “completely misunderstood the writings of the English and Scottish utilitarian philosophers.”]

The prestigious French publisher Presses Universitaires de France has recently brought out (November 1995) a new French edition of Elie Halévy's well known book The Growth of Philosophical Radicalism, first published in France in three volumes as La formation du radicalisme philosophique (1901-1904) and translated into English in 1926.1 The...

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