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Art and Graft

Eva Hoffman, Richard Sennett

25/02/2009 3:30 pm
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Eva Hoffman and Richard Sennett, both intellectuals and musicians of the highest standing, discussed what makes the difference between a good and a great performer and the very concept of genius. They argue whether the view of the artist as superior to the craftsman is romantic idealism or reality. They considered these themes in relation to their own intellectual pursuits and explored the role and responsibility of the writer.

Eva Hoffman


Eva Hoffman grew up in Cracow, Poland and studied music at the Cracow Music Conservatory before emigrating in her teens to Canada and the United States, and eventually settling in Great Britain. After receiving her Ph. D. in literature from Harvard University, she worked as senior editor and cultural critic at The New York Times, and has taught at various British and American universities. Her books, which have been widely translated, include Lost in Translation, Exit Into History, After Such Knowledge and Time, as well as two novels, The Secret and Illuminations (published as Appassionata in the US). She has written and presented numerous programmes for BBC Radio and conceived a series of programmes at the South Bank on Writing and Music. Her awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship, Whiting Award for Writing, an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Prix Italia for Radio, for work combining text and music. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and is currently a Visiting Professor at the European Institute at UCL. She lives in London.

Richard Sennett

Richard Sennett’s works include The Craftsman, Respect, The Fall of Public Man, and The Corrosion of Character. He taught for many years at the New York Institute of the Humanities and is now Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics.

Jonathan Heawood

Jonathan Heawood is Director of English PEN, having previously worked as Editorial Director of the Fabian Society and Deputy Literary Editor of The Observer. He has written on culture and politics for a range of publications, including the Independent on Sunday, Prospect, the New Statesman, the London Review of Books and Country Life. He wrote the introduction to Orwell: The Observer Years.

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