In The Hedgehog and the Fox, his celebrated 1953 essay on Leo Tolstoy's view of history, philosopher Isaiah Berlin cites a fragment attributed to the ancient Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing” (1). Berlin suggests that zoology can be writerly taxonomy. Some authors, like the hedgehog, subordinate all of their ideas to a single powerful organization and ideology. Others, like the fox, seize on various ideas that may seem centripetal or diffuse and are unwilling to subordinate them to one compelling inner vision. Such categories are, of course, merely partially useful. An author can be both hedgehog and fox, sometimes in contradictory ways. One of Berlin's major arguments, indeed, is that Tolstoy believed that one ought to be a hedgehog—but his practice reveals that he was actually a Russian fox...
Collaboration and Competition
scott w. klein is professor and chair of the Department of English at Wake Forest University. He is the author of The Fictions of James Joyce and Wyndham Lewis: Monsters of Nature and Design (2006). He has also edited the Oxford edition of Wyndham Lewis's Tarr and coedited a collection of essays, Vorticism: New Perspectives (2013), as well as a forthcoming collection, A Modernist Cinema.
Scott W. Klein; Collaboration and Competition. Novel 1 May 2015; 48 (1): 140–143. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-2860469
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