This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Yapp Source: Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 58, No. 1 (1995), pp. 40-49 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of School of Oriental and African Studies Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/619997 . Accessed: 27/01/2011 08:22
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=cup. . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cambridge University Press and School of Oriental and African Studies are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
some sleep and some scatter wildly in every direction. one thinks of the work of H. Its subsequent rapid progress to the position of respectability which it now occupies within the discipline of history owes much to the work of a handful of scholars among whom Albert Hourani and Elie Kedourie were especially conspicuous. But to a young history student coming to the study of the Middle East from that of Britain and Europe. Historians contributed not so much to the history of the modern Middle East as to the history of those diplomatic or military transactions of European powers which related to the region. The product of the work of these various writers was neither worthless nor negligible. those of the people of the Middle East were rendered in a fashion such as to make their behaviour in the face of what was usually called the impact of European civilization like that of a number of different farmyard animals suddenly confronted by a motor car driven into their midst-some bark. often as officials. above all. and of atavistic reaction. one can still. some glare. What was required was the development of a generation of historians who had a sound basis in the discipline of history. Much was explained in terms of vague but inexorable forces such as the desire for freedom. the dominant feeling created by this body of writing on the modern history of the region was one of bewilderment. V. by scholars rooted in classical philology who knew Middle Eastern languages but who did not know the discipline of history. Such scholars began to make By M. Temperley. It was written by orientalists. And it was written by people from various backgrounds who had encountered the Middle East in the course of their working lives. W.TWO GREAT BRITISH HISTORIANS OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST School of Orientaland African Studies. London As a serious subject of scholarly investigation modern Middle Eastern history is very young. The deaths of these two notable historians should not pass without an acknowledgement of the debt which we owe them and an appreciation of their contribution to the happy revolution in the branch of history which they adorned. Fifty years ago the history of the modern Middle East was written principally by non-historians. Sources of very different merits were indifferently jumbled together to form a narrative: information seemed to be exhibited for no other reason than that the author had found it: confident assertions were made for which no adequate evidence existed: improbable assumptions were laid out as though they had the authority of golden tablets: and. the questions which an historian should have asked were not asked.E. a good knowledge of Middle Eastern languages and real intellectual ability. The institutional structures of the modern Middle East were usually omitted from the analysis or else the reader was left to suppose that they were no different from those of the classical period. that is to say. occasionally throwing themselves under the wheels of the car. YAPP . for example. read the accounts of contemporary events in Oriente Moderno or in the annual volumes from Chatham House with profit. diplomatists. It was only 50 years ago that the subject began to be studied by historians who were adequately equipped for the work. journalists or missionaries. nationalism or the like. The young student noticed one more odd feature: whereas the motives and behaviour of Europeans were carefully analysed.
To me he had the characteristics of the ideal English gentleman: unfailing good manners. Antony's College. first as a Fellow at Magdalen. 1961) he put the right questions to the available Turkish sources. In 1958 he became director of the Centre of Middle Eastern Studies which was located in St. whither his father had come in 1891 from Marjayoun in South Lebanon. Albert Hourani was born in 1915 in Manchester. With the outbreak of war he joined the research department of the Foreign Office and subsequently was employed in Cairo in the Office of the Minister of State Resident in the Middle East. Probably it was a teacher of graduate students that Hourani made the greatest and most enduring impact. to . At his seminars at SOAS one observed the mind of a trained historian at work on the problems of Middle Eastern history and in his Emergence of modern Turkey (London. He had also a deep reserve. no doubt greatly assisted by the Scarbrough initiative. that Manchester and Marjayoun were not so very different. in his Palestine diary Richard Crossman suggested that Hourani was the intended successor to George Antonius as interpreter of the Arabs to the West. Over the following 20 years these scholars played a major part in shaping the revolution in the study of modern Middle Eastern history. in this respect Hourani was careful almost to a fault. But Hourani preferred to remain an observer of politics: his calling was that of a scholar and in 1948 he returned to Oxford. emanated from Bernard Lewis. No mention was made of the introduction.with its cluster of separate communities at once living together and living apart Manchester was a little like Lebanon. and into the confused intellectual world described above began to penetrate a few rays of light. then as Lecturer and finally as Reader in the Modern History of the Middle East. Perhaps Hourani saw Oxford as also possessing passing similarities: 'that segmentary society without formal and explicit authority. the ability to inspire with ideas and the willingness to play the part of the laborious mentor. It was from this academic home. which he had largely created and over which he presided with such grace.' as he once described it. introducing him to an audience. and there he remained until his retirement. as he used to say. One. the reserves of knowledge on which to draw freely for the advantage of others. Hourani went to school in London and thence to Magdalen College Oxford. The other two great sources of light in Britain were at St. He had the qualities of a great teacher. Noticing that he sat stony faced I changed my style when proposing a vote of thanks at the end of his lecture and made some mildly amusing but slightly critical observation. which happily continues to shine. in which he gained a first. But it may be. and sensitivity to the feelings of others. He beamed happily and afterwards said. the respective academic homes of Albert Hourani and Elie Kedourie.TWO GREAT BRITISH HISTORIANS OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST 41 their mark during the 1950s. a familiar range of interests and associations. that he exercised his beneficent influence over modern Arab history through his teaching and his publications. Newman once wrote that a gentleman was one who avoided giving pain to others. In the course of this employment he travelled widely in the region and formed links which seemed likely to draw him into Arab politics. Antony's College Oxford and at the London School of Economics. although he was not primarily an historian of the modem Middle East. Above all he had the humility which a teacher needs. 'I liked your vote of thanks '. a strong sense of duty. From 1937 to 1939 he taught at the American University of Beirut. where he read not history but PPE. I made some complimentary remarks about his work. Some observers claimed to discern distinctive Lebanese characteristics in Hourani and asserted that these served him well amid the academic politicking of Oxford. Once.
E. To advance their own interests the notables demanded more than they wanted. Syria and Lebanon (London. The Ottomans understood this behaviour and managed to live with it. In describing the evolution of the newly independent states. even to make his own mistakes. not intermediaries. But the European mandatory powers found it inexplicable. Hourani made the actions of local groups and politicians comprehensible by placing them not only in the context of new ideas and of their struggles with outside powers (although in that book he gave pre-eminence to the clash between Arab nationalism and Western civilization) but also in the situation of the local communities which had evolved from millets into minorities through the Ottoman period. Hourani did not discover the a'yan. I have yet to meet a student of Hourani who did not speak of his teacher with admiration and affection. The introduction of the Ottoman Tanzimat into Syria with its corollary of more centralized (and also more representative) government posed new problems and opportunities for the notables and they evolved a strange relationship with government: they had to co-operate and they had to oppose. 1946). Syria and Lebanon. was a halfway house of a book. Of course. leaders. demonstrated his lifelong ability to sympathize with everyone concerned. and extracting from those ideas implications and possibilities of which their authors had probably never dreamed. He argued that the local notables (a'yan) functioned as intermediariesbetween the Ottoman power and the local communities and developed through this a pattern of political behaviour based upon bargaining. he developed his perception of the leaders of these local communities into a most fertile theory subsequently employed by all who wrote on the political history of the Syrian world and by many who were concerned with events farther afield. nor was he the first to describe their role as intermediaries or the ambiguity of their position under the mandates. This was for explaining the ideas of others more lucidly than they could ever do. identifying the origins of their ideas. declined to behave like the Porte and took the notables at face value. But Hourani turned a number of separate and partial perceptions into an elegant and rounded theory of political behaviour rooted in historical experience and it is right that it should have been his name which was especially associated with it. written at a time when Hourani was caught between the desire to write an academic study and the wish to help to make policy: many passages are devoted to prescribing what ought to happen and how people should behave in the future. It is through his publications that Hourani is most widely known. It was the last day of a week long conference on Middle Eastern . Hourani was quick to abandon such presumption and to confine himself to analysis. The same subject matter became the seedbed of a most influential article published in 1968 (' Ottoman reform and the politics of notables') in which. thereby turning them into something to which they had never in their hearts aspired. however. established an abiding interest in the region. Dawn. the product of those wartime wanderings in the Middle East. This talent was memorably demonstrated one hot summer afternoon in July 1958 at SOAS. adapting a concept derived from Max Weber. One thinks especially of the important work of C. namely. and also indicated a new approach. During the 1950s Hourani was developing another great talent. His first book. promised more than they could deliver and threatened more than they could perform.42 MALCOLM YAPP know not only when to come forward with advice or exhortation but also when to remain silent and watch a student develop his own ideas. In the Middle Eastern field it has been as influential a theory as the notion of the rise of the gentry was in English history.
partly because of the difficulties which they presented. People must live together and irreconcilable systems of ideas were obstacles to that process. It was not the conventional glories of Arab civilization but the warmth and realities of Arab life which he celebrated. ideas and themes were blended in an apparently effortless narrative which left his readers with a vivid impression of the growth of Arab communities. groups and empires. It was what Hourani thought ought to have happened in the Middle East after 1945. And it was about compromise. Hourani's interest in cities found an outlet in a volume which he edited with S. partly because their themes were tangential to the main purpose of the conference. whilst it had little to do with the papers under review. 'did I ever agree to write a big general book. Stern in 1970 (The Islamic city) and he was to draw on this study and on his reflections on the subject in his last great book. of science and divine truth. usually a time of brief discussion. Hourani's facility for exposition found its finest expression in his Arabic thought in the liberal age (London. polite thanks and congratulations. By a stroke of genius the organizers of the conference asked Hourani to introduce them. It was a very long way from an older history of the Arabs written in the traditional dynastic mode. was the intellectual highlight of the conference. ambitions. Incidents. how men tried in a serious intellectual endeavour to bring into harmony the claims of Islam and of the rights of man. Of course the book was written at a time when compromise had fallen out of fashion. 'Has the conference all been like this?'. 1962) in which he set out and discussed the ideas of a number of prominent nineteenth.TWO GREAT BRITISH HISTORIANS OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST 43 historiography. that by Philip Hitti. successes and failures of individuals. In retirement many historians are tempted by publishers and by the last flicker of ambition to write a synoptic book in which they set out the lessons they have learned from a lifetime of practising history.' He was quite wrong. Hourani loved ideas but he thought people more important. A history of the Arab peoples (London. Essentially it was a study in reconciliation. The ideas were congenial to Hourani and he was in sympathy with the aspirations of the writers even when their performance did not live up to their pretensions. Cyril Philips looked in during the proceedings and sat down next to me. Ideas came from cities where people met and exchanged experiences and where they were obliged to devise ways of living together. and hasty departures to airports. It was and is a great book and it represented the heart of Hourani's own thought. the hopes. What was important was the effort to understand and to find a middle way. 'Why. The result was a discussion which. It was indeed the period when liberalism was the dominant political ideology and he traced the way in which Arabs sought to adjust its claims to their own circumstances. he inquired in a hushed and awed voice.' he used to complain. M. I have nothing new to say. Most of them regret it and Hourani was no exception. Hourani ended his book in 1939 and thereby avoided the distasteful task of expounding new ideas which were alien to him. It was characteristic of Hourani that while acknowledging the difference he expressed his regret that his own treatment of the . clarity and grace as to charm his somnolescent audience into an efflorescenceof intellectual activity.and early twentieth-century Arab writers. had been left to the last afternoon. the bustle of the bazaar and the creaking of caravans. 1991). it was not that one set of ideas was right and another wrong-such claims led to a deadend of confrontation. of Arab nationalism and political liberty. fears. and I remarked on this contrast in conversation with him. Two long papers. Hourani turned this poisoned chalice into a cornucopoeia of ideas expressed with such wit. the charm of houses and gardens. biographies.
an uncertainty about the direction in which the Arab peoples were moving and there was evident in his prose a feeling of discomfort. he seemed the epitome of the middle way. Instead he moved to London. Tauris. When he talked of the most recent past it was often to find in it resonances of earlier days. Sometimes their books would appear under the imprint of I. The emergence of the modern Middle East (London and Basingstoke. One other feature of his history of the Arabs is revealing of the man. He talked. 'All the books I need on open shelves. Many of his friends had thought of him as a quintessentially Oxford figure-indeed as long ago as 1964 he had refused to leave Oxford to succeed Sir Hamilton Gibb at Harvard-and fully expected him to live on in the society he had graced so long. the shapeless struggles of Arab masses and the harsh declamatory style of modern Arab politicians were uncongenial to him. Arnold Toynbee. which may be found in his four volumes of collected essays. An attraction was the chance to visit theatres. Hourani was a man who appeared perfectly balanced: equable. And yet. 'Your first visit?'. 1961).' he said. It is almost as though.' Another attraction was the Library. concerts and exhibitions. These small pieces. 1981) and Islam in European thought (Cambridge. One day I met him at the Hayward Gallery just before the end of the Renoir exhibition. whom he declared to be the one man of genius who had taken up oriental studies. SOAS may claim some share in Hourani's history of the Arabs for after his retirement he made the School his academic home and in its turn the School made him an Honorary Fellow. Hourani was happier when he looked backwards to a more serene age. Europe and the Middle East (London and Basingstoke. despite his personal and intellectual commitment to compromise. Writing of the later twentieth century. In his later years Hourani was a familiar sight in the Senior Common Room often talking to some young scholar who had come to seek the advice of the great man. He seemed never to refuse. I asked foolishly. liberal. And yet the two scholars whom he most admired were quite different men. More and more. He smiled: 'No. Yet Massignon was a man of passion and mystical fervour. my last. As academic adviser to that press he helped to make it one of the most discerning publishers of Middle Eastern books. And perhaps also there was the opportunity to meet new and old friends passing through London. lectured and occasionally wrote about contemporary events but for preference he averted his face from a spectacle which was distasteful to him and looked back to the years before the Second World War. he confessed to a feeling of unease. moderate. B. One was Louis Massignon. A vision of history (Beirut. haunted and powerful imaginations. a man to whom he owed much and for whose work he retained a deal of respect. among Hourani's many fine tributes to his contemporaries none is more affecting than that which celebrates his friendship with Gibb. 1991).44 MALCOLM YAPP history of the Arabs might be taken as an implied criticism of the work of Hitti. The other was the autocratic Hamilton Gibb who seemed to see the world as black and white. but he seemed just as unhappy with the first as he was uncomfortable with the second. are among Hourani's . He could not ignore the later twentieth century and did not seek to do so because he believed it to be his duty to concern himself with it. just as he often made obeisance to the importance of economic factors in history. Hourani also wrote warmly about his old mentor. 1980). he was most drawn to those minds which displayed the opposite characteristics. wholly unlike the eternal grays of Hourani. and in his words on Toynbee the same phrases which he used in writing about Massignon and Gibb recur-he was fascinated by their strange.
Elie Kedourie. For Hourani. when Gibb was one of his examiners. had no such friendly feelings for Hamilton Gibb. the general oriental awakening and the new ideas of nationalism and self-determination which flourished at the end of the First World War. 'A wilderness of tigers' was one of the many memorable phrases he employed to describe the modern Middle East and much of his life's work was an attempt to refute more optimistic theories of Middle Eastern development and to explain how the Middle East had achieved such a dismal state. He attended the deservedly renowned Alliance Israelite school in Baghdad before coming to London in that hot. Gibb was unhappy with the thesis and declared that Kedourie had failed to give adequate weight to the importance of broad ideas. viva voce examination at Oxford in December 1953. In 1951 he joined St. Colorado) he tells the story of his D. sunny summer of 1947. Reading Ronald Storrs's Orientations on a train between London and Oxford. Kedourie did not seek and Wheeler-Bennett did not offer more assistance and his thesis was written. specializing in political thought and graduating in 1950. whose conservative mistrust of optimistic theories of human progress was very much . Sir John Kaye once wrote. they were all alive.TWO GREAT BRITISH HISTORIANS OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST 45 most vivid writings. For the historian. Like Hourani he did not choose to study history but enrolled at the London School of Economics to read for the BSc. His supervisor was Sir John Wheeler-Bennett who received him with sherry and a polite invitation to call and discuss his work when he deemed it necessary. Phil. In the preface to the 1987 edition of his England and the Middle East (Boulder. with no more formal guidance than tea once a term at which supervisor and student talked at large.. Gibb could not do so but maintained his insistence and the result was that Kedourie's thesis was referred. No event had a more powerful effect on him than the attack on that community in June 1941 by a Baghdad mob whilst the government and the British authorities turned a blind eye on the scenes of murder and pillage. he was struck by the contrast between the sophisticated political world described by Storrs and 'the crude corruption. or to the power of public opinion as a constraint on British policy. Elie Kedourie was born into the prosperous and long-established Iraqi Jewish community in January 1926. who was also an Honorary Fellow of SOAS. Kedourie did not find the style of Oxford academic life congenial-he wrote that he derived most intellectual enlightenment from the conversation of his fellow postgraduates. like many another at that time. brutality and ideological ranting which was the political spectacle disclosed to a schoolboy growing up in Baghdad in the 1930s and 1940s'. all men are dead. Antony's College. namely. one sometimes feels. Kedourie answered that he had found no trace in the sources that such ideas or the force of public opinion had played any significant role in the making of policy and the course of events and asked that Gibb would point to the documents which would reveal that influence. on his way to an interview for a postgraduate scholarship in 1951. After the debacle of his viva he was happy to return to London where in 1953 he accepted an assistant lectureship in politics and British administration in the Department of Government at LSE under Michael Oakeshott. Econ. Kedourie's early education had been more French than English. He tells in an essay how he was drawn to the subject. It was then he decided to write his thesis about the diplomatic transactions which had created the modern Middle East and its new ruling class during and after the First World War. Kedourie refused to modify his thesis and resubmit and so one of the great formative works of modern Middle Eastern history never gained the doctoral imprimatur of Oxford University.
Oddly enough. Its argument. Research students. The connexion between the broad principle and the policy and the outcome must be shown by reference to the documents and if it could not be shown. he asserted. 'Kedourie believes the British Empire was a good thing. if indeed the documents pointed to different motivations. established the Kedourie version as the new academic orthodoxy. then the assertion fell to the ground. This latter view Kedourie came particularly to associate with Arnold Toynbee and he gave it the name of The Chatham House Version.' It was Kedourie's great achievement that during the course of the following 25 years he converted his sceptical critics to his own views. and became one of the most respected and admired scholars in the field of modern Middle Eastern history as well as a man renowned for his distinguished intellectual contribution to much broader topics. 'the shrill and clamant voice of English radicalism. chronology and detail. in all its singularity. attracted by his growing reputation (he became Professor of Politics in 1965) came to LSE and these were also directed towards the archives. England and the Middle East was not written from archival sources. as evidence of the extraordinary waywardness of its opinions. adding.. The essence of historical narrative. which were not available at the time of Kedourie's research. miscalculation and the vanities and prejudices of some of its agents. was logic. resembling as it did a series of articles dealing with certain aspects of the subject rather than a coherent narrative account of the development of British policy towards the region. What Kedourie was doing was applying to the Middle East the methods refined by scholars working in the fields of British and European history and in doing so he transformed the history of the region.. for whoever cares to read them. and detail required evidence. The common view of Kedourie's book was that it was clever but essentially perverse. Oakeshott was also instrumental in arranging publication of Kedourie's rejected thesis. however. Britain had blundered badly. But there was much more than this in Kedourie's feeling for history: few words capture the humility and the possibilities of the discipline of history like Kedourie's reference to 'those products of the historian's art. The evidence for British policy was in the British archives. In form it was unusual. This interpretation ran counter to the prevailing view which was that Britain had not gone far enough in deferring to the forces of nationalism in the Middle East and by her selfish policies and postwar arrangements had broken her wartime promises and frustrated the move towards the creation of a strong Arab federal state. 'Have you read England and the Middle East?' asked one of my colleagues. but when the Foreign Office archives were opened Kedourie studied them and in a series of articles began to confirm the hypotheses of his book. Mastery of detail was the key.46 MALCOLM YAPP to Kedourie's taste.that seek to restore. It was no longer possible to get away with broad assertions and generalizations about principles of policy. wantonly destroyed the Ottoman empire. England and the Middle East had a mixed reception when it appeared in 1956. the meaning . put in its place a hotchpotch of unstable regimes and walked away from the results. Kedourie accomplished this historiographical revolution by insistence on the same principles of historical study with which he had countered the thrusts of Gibb in 1953. thirsting with self-accusatory and joyful lamentation'. detail was required and in an argument about detail not many scholars would confront Kedourie. was clear: through ignorance. It was not enough to assert that British policy was based upon a broad principle and point to outcomes as evidence of the truth of this assertion.
he had published articles on the fate of minorities in the region. 1970). Despotism was the normal political condition of the Middle East. This was his interest in ideas. Much previous writing had concentrated on the practical expressions of nationalism. like the great essays on Egypt and Palestine. His editorship of this journal not only permitted Kedourie to publish articles illuminating many areas of the subject but also enabled him to impose his own high standards on the academic world of Middle Eastern history. focused on nationalist ideologies and their origins. There is little doubt that Kedourie's hostility to nationalist claims owed much to his own knowledge of the sufferings inflicted on minorities in the Middle East by men claiming to act in the name of nationalist doctrines. Kedourie was a conservative in the profoundly pessimistic tradition which finds its roots in Plato and in the Old Testament but which in political . 1976). he contended. which are contained in The ChathamHouse version(London. a study of the Husayn-McMahon correspondence and its subsequent fate. 1970). Arabicpolitical memoirs (London. As early as 1951. Nationalism in Asia and Africa (London. In Asia and Africa nationalism was wholly unsuitable. 1980). There was another. he declared. are archive-based.' Kedourie's contribution was especially to the study of British policy in the Middle East. Kedourie applied this view to the non-European world and concluded that in those regions even the argument that the doctrine of nationalism. although it was a doctrine which many others found eminently suitable to their purposes. Middle Eastern Studies. The best of his articles. In the Anglo-Arab labyrinth(Cambridge. and contended that it was foisted on those continents by intellectuals who uncritically copied Western ideas. and in the past it had worked not too badly because people understood it and could manage to live under it. The same is also true of many articles in the journal. quite different aspect of Kedourie's work. Syvia Haim. In his anthology. Politics in the Middle East (1992). indeed it was his first interest. by contrast. in 1964. under the pseudonym of Antiochus (the allusion to Racine was perhaps a reflection of his French education). included a sustained argument that constitutionalism (by which he meant parliamentary democracy) was quite unsuitable to the region and had failed almost completely. particularly in Germany in the late eighteenth century. 1960) was an important theoretical contribution to the subject. Kedourie argued that nationalism was the artificial creation of intellectuals. was also securely founded on a mastery of the archival sources.TWO GREAT BRITISH HISTORIANS OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST 47 of thoughts and actions now dead and gone which once upon a time were the designs and choices of living men. Kedourie. But inappropriate Western ideas such as nationalism and democracy had deranged the old system without providing a viable alternative. invented or borrowed. As time went on he broadened his criticism of the importation of Western ideas into the Middle East and his last book. was an appropriate ideology for the place and time also failed. in fact they had helped to produce the disaster which was the modern Middle East. 1974) and Islam in the Modern World (London. Nationalism (London. Taken further this argument yielded a view of nationalism as the product of manipulation by small groups of men rather than the expression of the popular will. and which quickly became the premier journal in the field of modern Middle Eastern history. which he founded with his wife. although he was also able to use European and American archives to illuminate features of internal Middle Eastern development. often assuming that nation states were such natural political forms that it was of more interest to explain why they had not always existed rather than why they should have come into being.
That men performed evil acts Kedourie understood and could forgive. He would begin with a small question on some . how beautiful souls came to set the tone in a public life distinguished not so long ago by some robustness and realism. but such an approach. one feels that Kedourie thought the enterprise should always end in a condemnation. 'It is not the deed but the dirty language. he wrote. Just as Gibb's message was one that people wanted to hear in the first half of the twentieth century so Kedourie's message.' he remarked at one seminar on Arab political rhetoric. Ideologies. sometimes. the eventual triumph of the good. at least in the Middle East. his moral force. Nevertheless. terrifying as it must have been to the candidate.D. Kedourie found distasteful and he condemned those statesmen and officials who. he believed. Hourani hid his reserve under a flow of easy conversation but Kedourie's reserve went right up to the surface. Kedourie was a man of extraordinary integrity and frowning moral stature. 'How the pieties that Suez [in 1956] outraged came to strike root. and his remarkable use of language. how scruple decayed into scrupulosity-this remains the central mystery of modern British politics'. however. its scepticism. was becoming less and less fashionable. He was always scrupulously polite but often would sit in silence or offer only diffident comments. based their policies on false assumptions rooted in fanciful theories of human behaviour and social development rather than on a cool analysis of the facts. and when he was ready he moved in to dominate a conversation or a discussion. Optimistic attempts to improve the lot of man by government manipulation are doomed to failure. Both messages go beyond the evidence and although Kedourie multiplied detail in support of his argument. in the sense in which the term is usually understood. Kedourie was himself a man of rock-solid principle who had little difficulty in determining what was right and what was wrong. In this respect he was much more like Gibb than he recognized. to flourish and luxuriate. Many found Kedourie an uncomfortable colleague or companion. the best that can be done is to give people freedom and the opportunity to follow the precepts of moral teaching. the detail was selected. The virtues of the academic approach were its critical insights. For Gibb the history of the modern Middle East contained an optimistic message. What he could never forgive and what he never ceased to castigate was the action of intellectuals in palliating moral wrongs in the name of some mysterious or fictitious process or goal. but he was not a man of intellectual compromise. he observed sadly. viva was a lesson in historical method. Kedourie has left a dual imprint on modern Middle Eastern history. On the one hand he has taught it historical method and on the other he has given its study a new moral dimension. In his emphasis on morality. once again Kedourie came near to Gibb. was best based on a crude empiricism. He could not sympathize with views and with people he disliked. despite his own pessimism. Foreign policy. his concentration was complete. For what set people in awe of Kedourie was his mastery of detail. his intellectual power. But. nationalism and democracy: for Kedourie the message is essentially pessimistic and the story of the modern Middle East is a horror story without apparent end. the only statesman that I can remember him praising was Lord Salisbury. namely. Partly this was because he was an intensely private man. To see him at work in a Ph. it was an inevitable outcome of human nature. its readiness to scrutinize farfetched theories and unlikely suppositions. its willingness to follow the argument wherever it led.48 MALCOLM YAPP philosophy was best expressed by Thomas Hobbes and Joseph de Maistre. may be one that people are more ready to accept in the second.
But in his later years Kedourie was moving increasingly outside the realm of Middle Eastern history into broader intellectual interests. But perhaps for Kedourie there was little difference. and Kedourie was as widely read in the French classics as he was in those of England and might well have chosen to write in French. By his early death not only modern Middle Eastern history has lost a bright source of intellectual illumination. Nevertheless. his final book on that subject is the one I shall treasure least. at other times of Bagehot or even. Perhaps his models were French-there are hints of Tocqueville. Whereas Hourani made his last book into a triumphant celebration and enlargement of his lifetime study of Middle Eastern history.or nineteenth-century flavour. How he developed so powerful a style I know not. they had too much respect for each other to engage in a contest for mastery and probably they each realized that their minds were too unlike to meet with profit. At the time of his death Kedourie was working on a major study of conservatism. Then would come the startling and unforeseen implication of his questions. there is thrown into the cold narrative a memorable phrase of passion. and finally a thrust at the very heart of the candidate's argument.D. for an heroic intellectual battle. simple and so precise. In their views of the modern Middle East. will be aware that their own lives were enriched by being touched by two men of rare distinction. Hourani had the more perceptive and Kedourie the more powerful mind. The impression is one of moral authority somehow kept under restraint by rigorous self-control but occasionally obliged to burst forth because it is demanded by the overwhelming logic of the exposition. There would follow another larger question which would draw his interlocutor further into his toils. Kedourie's general view of modern Middle Eastern history had little new to offer and is too unremittingly pessimistic for many tastes. suddenly. Kedourie's prose is one of the greatest delights of his work. He died at the height of his powers. in vain. The words and sentences flow. scholars could do terrible damage. At seminars which they both attended one looked. curiously enough. at times one is reminded of Gibbon. knowingly or unknowingly. they were completely opposed. by their work. And those who knew them personally. so it was right that they should be subjected to the severest intellectual tests before they were pronounced fit to teach others. His prose has an eighteenth. even in their attitudes towards the discipline of history. however. examination. It was magnificent but one wondered whether it was a Ph. But in their various ways each made an indelible contribution to modern Middle Eastern history. Another concern was for academic freedom and was illustrated in his writings on the future of the universities: and yet others in his last public lectures. his prose seems very English-the most English thing about him indeed. Of these two great and very different historians. nor what were his models. . And then. notably that at University College on the treason of the intellectuals.TWO GREAT BRITISH HISTORIANS OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST 49 apparently insignificant detail such as a title or an occupation. the argument is developed with what seems inexorable dispassionate logic. who admired them and held them in affection. No future historian will ever approach the subject without being profoundly affected. Perhaps he had less to contribute to Middle Eastern history in the future. In particular he was developing a view that the same follies which distinguished British policy in the Middle East were coming to dominate the political and social thought of a Western world which employed guilt and historical process to excuse its abandonment of its primary responsibilities for the maintenance of order and decency. Some of the products of these interests found their way into The Crossman confessions (1984). of Trollope. or an examination on one's fitness to enter the Academy.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?