Taking up the Torch

English Institutions, German Dialectics and Multicultural Commitments

By Edward Timms

Taking up the Torch is an unusual, autobiographical narrative that successfully combines subjectivity (how an English person was led by a sequence of educational developments, personal encounters, and historical constraints to become the founder of the German-Jewish Center at the University of Sussex) and objectivity (a book that introduces English and American readers to the important and evolving fields of historical and cultural studies). This autobiography documents the formative experiences of a scholar who was to become a pioneering teacher and researcher in the field of German culture and politics. The aim is to relate the shaping of self to the drift of history in a period of radical social change, extending from the refugee crisis caused by Hitler's seizure of power through the ordeals of the Second World War to post-war reconstruction, and the transformation of Britain into a modern multicultural society. The focus is on the formative role of institutions: a vicarage childhood, Anglican schooling, Cambridge and other university environments, and especially the academic direction taken at Sussex University in the 1960s. The 'Torch' in the title alludes to the transmission of a radical intellectual tradition and to a specific commitment to the study of Die Fackel, the satirical journal edited by Karl Kraus in Vienna from 1899 to 1936. From this emerged the innovative agenda developed by the Center for German-Jewish Studies. "This autobiography ranges from the very personal to intellectual achievement and discovery. In recommending it to the general reader, as well as the academic specialist, one recalls Thomas Carlyle's words: "A well-written life is almost as rare as a well-spent one" and Timms is to be admired on both counts." H-Net Reviews, Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online. www.h-net.org/reviews/


364 pages

Publication Date: 5/20/2011
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9781845193850