The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

February 21, 2017

February 21, 2000

Noel Gilroy Annan (December 25 1916 to February 21 2000) was the author of a variety of notable histories, such as:

Leslie Stephen: His Thought and Character in Relation to His Time (1951) and
The Curious Strength of Positivism in English Political Thought (1959).

Annan has been described as "As the foremost spokesman of his generation... [H]e cared passionately about education, culture, and the intellect: 'everything else is secondary', he once wrote."

His quote is from his book, The Dons: Mentors, Eccentrics and Geniuses, (1999) which has been reviewed:

For two hundred years Oxford and Cambridge Universities were home to some of Britain's greatest teachers and intellects, each forming the minds of the passing generations of students and influencing the thinking and practice of university learning throughout the country and the world.
In this entertaining, informative book, Noel Annan is at his incisive best. Displaying his customary mastery of his subject, he describes the great dons in all their glory and eccentricities: who they were, what they were like, why they mattered, and what their legacy is. Written with love and wisdom, the great minds of the past—figures such as John Henry Newman, John Sparrrow, and Isaiah Berlin—are brought alive. In addition, Annan's often quoted article "The Intellectual Aristocracy" is included in this book. No other work has ever explained so precisely and so intimately the significance of the dons and their important role in shaping higher education—at a time when the nature of learning is ever more the subject of dissension and uncertainty.

Thus Stephen Toulmin. Another reviewer (Robert Fulford,) described the book as "an affectionate elegy for a class that has largely expired."

We stress the eccentric in The Dons, by mentioning an incident Annan includes,when "the headmaster's exquisite cat" was dissected by a student.

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