U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Wit and Intellectual History

I recently finished J. W. Burrow’s Evolution and Society: A Study in Victorian Social Theory (1966), which—though you wouldn’t know it from the meek title—is a delightfully droll… I almost want to use the word romp, although I’m not sure one romps around with Herbert Spencer. It is, however, full of genuinely snort-out-loud asides, such as this lovely bit of footnoted snark: Harriet Martineau claimed that she frequently wept tears of joy while translating Comte—a feat of sensibility which only those who have read Comte at length can fully appreciate. H. Martineau, Autobiography (3 vols. 1877), II, 391. The rarity Read more