Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012)


In the foothills of Hampstead Heath, where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels used to take their afternoon strolls, stands the home of Eric and Marlene Hobsbawm. To enter the Nassington Road drawing room for a conversation with Hobsbawm was to be transported back to the great ideological struggles of the extreme 20th century. Here was where ideas mattered, history had a purpose, and politics was important. And one could have no more generous, humane, rigorous, and involved a guide than the late Eric Hobsbawm. The breadth of his work and the reach of his intellect was always startling. Right to the end of his days, he stayed up to date with scholarship, never failed to flay an opponent, and continued to write. Afternoon tea with Hobsbawm could range from the achievements of President Lula of Brazil to the limitations of Isaiah Berlin as an historian, the unfortunate collapse of the Communist party in West Bengal to what Ralph Miliband would have made of his boys, David and Ed.

more from Tristram Hunt at The Guardian here.