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The House of Intellect

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  93 ratings  ·  12 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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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
Jan 03, 2013 Lobstergirl rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
Tyler Malone
Beautiful sentences and beautiful ideas.
Dustyn Hessie
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
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.
Many a good point are buried underneath the pretentious drivel. A nightmare to wade through, should have been condensed into a single essay.
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.
The author makes you think about common beliefs & dogmas perpetuated by the powers that be.
Jessie Harvey
A few good points get lost in the sea of pretension that this book is.
Ak Hauck
Highly relevant ! I read this with a highlighter in hand.
Joe Johnston
I read this in grad school. Feh.
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  • Another Sort of Learning
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  • The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods
  • The Culture of Disbelief
  • The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea
  • Reforming Education: The Opening of the American Mind
  • The Closing of the American Mind
  • The Whimsical Christian: 18 Essays
  • The Art of Teaching
  • Religion and the Rise of Western Culture
  • Capitalism and the Historians
  • The Four Cardinal Virtues
  • Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments (Writings 12.1)
  • Totemism
  • Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain
  • The Conservative Mind
  • The Essential Foucault: Selections from Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984
  • Reinventing Knowledge: From Alexandria to the Internet
Jacques Martin Barzun was a French-born American historian of ideas and culture.
More about Jacques Barzun...
From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present Simple and Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers A Jacques Barzun Reader Teacher in America Darwin, Marx, Wagner: Critique of a Heritage

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