Sir Harold Nicolson and International Relations: The Practitioner as Theorist

By Derek Drinkwater | Go to book overview

3 Liberal Realism

OXFORD AND THE CLASSICS

Cornelia Navari has outlined the advantages of identifying patterns of philosophical discourse and applying them to the works of theorists when assessing their contribution to international theory. She rates highly the influence of intellectual milieu, teachers, and contemporaries. 1 A similar approach is adopted in this book in exploring the main sources of Harold Nicolson's liberal realism—a classical education and his analyses of realist and idealist reaction to inter-war international relations.

In late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Britain, there developed civilian and military governing elites whose members were educated less and less by private tutors and increasingly at public school and university, in the political, historical, and literary classics of ancient Greece and Rome. The classical authors were a valuable means of inculcating the ideals of patriotism and public service into young male British patricians. 2 So well-entrenched in curricula did classical studies become that it was possible to 'scratch a Victorian and…find an Athenian underneath'. 3 The Victorian and Edwardian fascination with ancient Greece and Rome was strongly reflected in intellectual life and education, especially at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. 4

As we have seen, Nicolson had been introduced to ancient Greek and Latin at Wellington College, but the classics only came alive for him at Oxford. It was here that he received his first systematic introduction to classical political, historical, and literary study through Literae Humaniores ('Greats')—the

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Sir Harold Nicolson and International Relations: The Practitioner as Theorist
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Sir Harold Nicolson and International Relations iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Contents xiii
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • Note on the Author xvi
  • 1: International Theorist 1
  • 2: Diplomat 17
  • 3: Liberal Realism 37
  • 4: International Order 61
  • 5: Diplomacy 89
  • 6: European Security, 1919-39 117
  • 7: Federalism and Peace 161
  • 8: Practice and Theory 203
  • Bibliography 213
  • Index 239
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