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The House of Intellect

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  110 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
In this international bestseller, originally published in 1959, Jacques Barzun, acclaimed author of From Dawn to Decadence, takes on the whole intellectual -- or pseudo-intellectual -- world, attacking it for its betrayal of Intellect. "Intellect is despised and neglected," Barzun says, "yet intellectuals are well paid and riding high." He details this great betrayal in su ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 3rd 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 1959)
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Apr 13, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: illiterates
The fact that I agree with Barzun on some of his complaints didn't make this any less of an irritating and sluggish read. His 1959 criticisms of the U.S. educational system seem timeless - a paragraph about a very high-achieving, self-confident, magna cum laude graduate of a leading university whom he nonetheless gives three failing grades in a row for her weekly historiography papers, causing her to weep distressedly because no professor had ever given her less than an A- before, could have bee ...more
Sep 12, 2010 Seppo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
In the quote from the preface Barzun sets the task for himself in this book.

"In a critical description of this sort only examples of the best have any probative value. And by the best I mean the most developed, the most serious, the most highly regarded efforts of any relevant kind. The worst, and even the mediocre, must be taken as cultural constants. It is a waste of time to belabor shady schools, corrupt journals, stupid government officials, and the unscrupulous exploiters of the eternally g
Oct 24, 2007 Debra rated it liked it
Like all of Barzun's books, this is thought-provoking. I find myself agreeing with some of his premises and conclusions, and disagreeing with others on the same page. I am mulling over his thoughts on the danger of ideas in politics - there is something quite wrong about his evidence and conclusions, but I can't put my finger on it.
Tyler Malone
Oct 27, 2011 Tyler Malone rated it it was amazing
Beautiful sentences and beautiful ideas.
Tom Pepper
This is a frightening book, but worth reading if you want to understand the kind of thinking that went into creating the disastrous school system we have today. Barzun was fairly influential in American education, as the provost of Columbia, and his book Teacher in America is still popular with educators today. So it's good to get a look at the kind of disturbing fascistic ideas that underly his educational theories.

Barzun wants to maintain a distinction between "intellect" and "intelligence," w
Patrick Richardson
Feb 13, 2017 Patrick Richardson rated it it was amazing
An age old yet still much needed critique of American intellectualism. Read more to find out. Very cynical, and even more rewarding.
Dustyn Hessie
Sep 29, 2011 Dustyn Hessie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People are calling THIS book pretentious? I don't understand. These concepts are as easy to grasp as any other... In fact, I'd say the writing is superb, in that, I got something out of almost every page of it.

Barzun's stance is basically that intellectuals (philosophers, artists, vanguard practitioners, etc.) are facing a difficult dilemma, especially in academia: In one corner the intellectual can coerce into academia and become another government tool, albeit, a financially stable and social
Mar 31, 2016 Ari rated it it was amazing
This is a spectacular book. The premise is "our society no longer values sustained, disciplined, learned thought ("Intellect") as much as it used to and as much as it ought". The successive chapters trace the causes and effects of this decline. It is intensely polemical, but well grounded in the author's experience as as senior university administrator and public intellectual. The tone is by turns arch and reverential; I found myself repeatedly marking out especially lovely passages. But it's so ...more
Rashida Fazal
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Sep 23, 2008 Kfaas rated it liked it
Devastating examination of the presumptions of "Intellect" in opposition to--and often in collusion with--intelligence, art, politics...
Oct 28, 2009 Erik marked it as to-read
Recommended by James Schall in Another Sort of Learning, Chapter 3, as one of six books on learning and teaching.
Dec 25, 2009 Morgan rated it liked it
Many a good point are buried underneath the pretentious drivel. A nightmare to wade through, should have been condensed into a single essay.
Jessie Harvey
Feb 28, 2009 Jessie Harvey rated it it was ok
A few good points get lost in the sea of pretension that this book is.
Apr 09, 2008 Eva rated it really liked it
The author makes you think about common beliefs & dogmas perpetuated by the powers that be.
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Jacques Martin Barzun was a French-born American historian of ideas and culture.
More about Jacques Barzun...

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