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George Santayana

George Santayana (1863–1952) was a philosopher, poet, critic, and novelist. He is the author of The Last Puritan (MIT Press) and many other works. The MIT Press has published The Letters of George Santayana in eight books.

Titles by This Author

Reason in Religion, Volume VII, Book Three

Santayana’s Life of Reason, published in five books from 1905 to 1906, ranks as one of the greatest works in modern philosophical naturalism. Acknowledging the natural material bases of human life, Santayana traces the development of the human capacity for appreciating and cultivating the ideal. It is a capacity he exhibits as he articulates a continuity running through animal impulse, practical intelligence, and ideal harmony in reason, society, art, religion, and science. The work is an exquisitely rendered vision of human life lived sanely.

In this third book, Santayana offers a naturalistic interpretation of religion. He believes that religion is ignoble if regarded as a truthful depiction of real beings and events; but regarded as poetry, it might be the greatest source of wisdom. Santayana analyzes four characteristic religious concerns: piety, spirituality, charity, and immortality. He is at his most profound in his discussion of immortality, arguing for an ideal immortality that does not eradicate the fear of death but offers a way for mortal man to share in immortal things and live in a manner that will bestow on his successors the imprint of his soul.

This critical edition, volume VII of The Works of George Santayana, includes notes, textual commentary, lists of variants and emendations, bibliography, and other tools useful to Santayana scholars. The other four books of the volume include Reason in Common Sense, Reason in Society, Reason in Art, and Reason in Science.

Reason in Society, Volume VII, Book Two

Santayana’s Life of Reason, published in five books from 1905 to 1906, ranks as one of the greatest works in modern philosophical naturalism. Acknowledging the natural material bases of human life, Santayana traces the development of the human capacity for appreciating and cultivating the ideal. It is a capacity he exhibits as he articulates a continuity running through animal impulse, practical intelligence, and ideal harmony in reason, society, art, religion, and science. The work is an exquisitely rendered vision of human life lived sanely.

In this second book, Santayana analyzes several distinctive forms of human association, from political and economic orders to forms of friendship, to determine what possibilities they provide for the life of reason. He considers, among other topics, love and the affinity for the ideal, the family, aristocracy and democracy, the constituents of genuinely free friendship (including that of husband and wife), patriotism, and the ideal society of kindred spirits.

This Critical Edition, volume VII of The Works of George Santayana, includes a chronology, notes, bibliography, textual commentary, lists of variants, and other tools useful to Santayana scholars. The other four books of the volume include Reason in Common Sense, Reason in Religion, Reason in Art, and Reason in Science.

Introduction and Reason in Common Sense, Volume VII, Book One

Santayana’s Life of Reason, published in five books from 1905 to 1906, ranks as one of the greatest works in modern philosophical naturalism. Acknowledging the natural material bases of human life, Santayana traces the development of the human capacity for appreciating and cultivating the ideal. It is a capacity he exhibits as he articulates a continuity running through animal impulse, practical intelligence, and ideal harmony in reason, society, art, religion, and science. The work is an exquisitely rendered vision of human life lived sanely.
In this first book of the work, Santayana provides an account of how the human animal develops instinct, passion, and chaotic experience into rationality and ideal life. Inspired by Aristotle’s De Anima, Darwin’s evolutionary theory, and William James’s The Principles of Psychology, Santayana contends that the requirements of action in a hazardous and uncertain environment are the sources of the development of mind. More specifically, instinct and imagination are crucial to the emergence of reason from chaos. Separating himself from the typical thought of the time by his recognition of the imagination, Santayana in this volume offers extensive critiques of various philosophies of mind, including those of Kant and the British empiricists.
This Critical Edition, volume VII of The Works of George Santayana, includes a chronology, notes, bibliography, textual commentary, lists of variants, and other tools useful to Santayana scholars. The other four books of the volume include Reason in Society, Reason in Religion, Reason in Art, and Reason in Science.

Book One, Abell–Lucretius

In his essay "Imagination," George Santayana writes, "There are books in which the footnotes, or the comments scrawled by some reader's hand in the margins, may be more interesting than the text." Santayana himself was an inveterate maker of notes in the margins of his books, writing (although neatly, never scrawling) comments that illuminate, contest, or interestingly expand the author's thought. These volumes offer a selection of Santayana's marginalia, transcribed from books in his personal library. These notes give the reader an unusual perspective on Santayana's life and work. He is by turns critical (often), approving (seldom), literary, slangy, frivolous, and even spiteful. The notes show his humor, his occasional outcry at a writer's folly, his concern for the niceties of English prose and the placing of Greek accent marks.

These two volumes list alphabetically by author all the books extant that belonged to Santayana, reproducing a selection of his annotations intended to be of use to the reader or student of Santayana's thought, his art, and his life. Each entry includes a headnote with the author's name, the title of the work, brief publication information, and the library location of the book. Not all marginalia from a given text is included; the notes have been selected for content and style.

Santayana, often living in solitude, spent a great deal of his time talking to, and talking back to, a wonderful miscellany of writers, from Spinoza to Kant to J. S. Mill to Bertrand Russell. These notes document those conversations.

Book Two, McCord–Zeller

In his essay "Imagination," George Santayana writes, "There are books in which the footnotes, or the comments scrawled by some reader's hand in the margins, may be more interesting than the text." Santayana himself was an inveterate maker of notes in the margins of his books, writing (although neatly, never scrawling) comments that illuminate, contest, or interestingly expand the author's thought. These volumes offer a selection of Santayana's marginalia, transcribed from books in his personal library. These notes give the reader an unusual perspective on Santayana's life and work. He is by turns critical (often), approving (seldom), literary, slangy, frivolous, and even spiteful. The notes show his humor, his occasional outcry at a writer's folly, his concern for the niceties of English prose and the placing of Greek accent marks.

 

These two volumes list alphabetically by author all the books extant that belonged to Santayana, reproducing a selection of his annotations intended to be of use to the reader or student of Santayana's thought, his art, and his life. Each entry includes a headnote with the author's name, the title of the work, brief publication information, and the library location of the book. Not all marginalia from a given text is included; the notes have been selected for content and style.

 

Santayana, often living in solitude, spent a great deal of his time talking to, and talking back to, a wonderful miscellany of writers, from Spinoza to Kant to J. S. Mill to Bertrand Russell. These notes document those conversations.

The Works of George Santayana, Volume V

This final volume of Santayana’s letters spans the last five years of the philosopher’s life. Despite the increasing infirmities of age and illness, Santayana continued to be remarkably productive during these years, working steadily until September 1952, when he died of stomach cancer, just three months short of his eighty-ninth birthday. Still living in the nursing home run by the “Blue Sisters” of the Little Company of Mary in Rome (now with such prewar luxuries as hot baths and central heating restored), Santayana completed his book Dominations and Powers, which had been more than fifty years in the making, the final part of his autobiography Persons and Places, published posthumously in 1953 as My Host the World, and the abridgement of his early five-part masterwork, The Life of Reason, into a single volume--all while continuing to maintain a voluminous correspondence with friends and admirers. The eight books of The Letters of George Santayana bring together over 3,000 letters, many of which have been discovered in the fifty years since Santayana’s death. Letters in Book Eight are written to such correspondents as the young American poet Robert Lowell (whom Santayana thinks of “only as a friend and not merely as a celebrity” and to whom he sends a wedding gift of $500); Ira D. Cardiff, the editor of Atoms of Thought, a collection of excerpts from Santayana’s writings (which, Santayana complained, portrayed him as more akin to Tom Paine than Thomas Aquinas); Richard Colton Lyon, a young Texan who would later collect Santayana’s writings about America in Santayana on America: Essays, Notes, and Letters on American Life, Literature, and Philosophy (1968); and the humanist philosopher Corliss Lamont.William G. Holzberger is Professor of English Emeritus at Bucknell University.

The Works of George Santayana, Volume V

This penultimate volume of Santayana’s letters chronicles Santayana’s life during a difficult time--the war years and the immediate postwar period. The advent of World War II left Santayana isolated in Rome, and the difficulties of wartime travel across borders forced him to abandon plans to move to more agreeable locations in Switzerland or Spain. During these years, Santayana lived in a single room in a nursing home run by the "Blue Sisters" of the Little Company of Mary in Rome, where, during the winter months, he did much of his writing in bed (wearing well-mended gloves) in order to stay warm. And yet, despite wartime deprivations, illness, and old age (he was 77 in 1941), Santayana was remarkably productive, completing both his autobiography Persons and Places and The Idea of Christ in the Gospels: or God in Man, and all but completing Dominations and Powers. He confided to one correspondent that he had "never been more at peace or more happy."The eight books of The Letters of George Santayana bring together over 3,000 letters, many of which have been discovered in the fifty years since Santayana's death. Letters in Book Seven are written to such correspondents as his friend and protégée Daniel Cory, his financial manager and heir George Sturgis, and the American poet Robert Lowell. The correspondence with Lowell--which began when the younger writer sent Santayana a copy of his Pulitzer Prize-winning Lord Weary's Castle--signals an important new friendship, which became a source of affection and intellectual engagement in Santayana's final years.

The Works of George Santayana, Volume V

The eight books of The Letters of George Santayana bring together over 3,000 letters, many of which have been discovered in the fifty years since Santayana's death. This sixth book covers four years of Santayana's life in Rome, his permanent residence since the late 1920s. During these years, Santayana, in his seventies, saw the publication of the remaining nine volumes of the Triton Edition of his work as well as the last two books of his Realms of Being: The Realm of Truth and The Realm of Spirit. In 1938 the first book-length biography of Santayana was published, and in 1940 The Philosophy of George Santayana--a collection of critical essays that included Santayana's rejoinder, "Apologia pro Mente Sua"--was published as volume two of Northwestern University Press?s Library of Living Philosophers. In 1939, when war broke out in Europe and Swiss authorities denied him a long-term visa, Santayana decided to stay in Italy, where he was to remain for the rest of his life.The letters in this book are written to such correspondents as Van Meter Ames, Curt John Ducasse, Max Forrester Eastman, Max Fisch, Sidney Hook, Horace Meyer Kallen, Christopher Janus, Milton Munitz, William Lyon Phelps, and Ezra Pound, and include discussions of the work of Henri Bergson, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, and Ezra Pound, among others.

The Works of George Santayana, Volume V

During the period covered by this book, George Santayana had settled permanently in Rome. His best-selling novel, The Last Puritan, was published in London in 1935 and in the United States in 1936, where it was chosen as a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. In 1936 Santayana became one of the few philosophers ever to appear on the front cover of Time magazine. His growing influence was evidenced further by two other 1936 publications, Obiter Scripta: Lectures, Essays and Reviews and Philosophy of Santayana: Selections From the Works of George Santayana. Also during this year the first six volumes of the Triton Edition, a limited signed edition with significant new prefaces, was published by Scribner's. Santayana continued work on The Realm of Truth and The Realm of Spirit, as well as his autobiography, Persons and Places.

The Works of George Santayana, Volume V

George Santayana published The Realm of Matter (1930) and The Genteel Tradition at Bay (1931). He continued work on Book Three of Realms of Being, The Realm of Truth, and on his novel, The Last Puritan. Citing his commitment to his writing and his intention to retire from academia, he declined offers from Harvard University for the Norton Chair of Poetry and for a position as William James Professor of Philosophy, as well as offers for positions at the New School for Social Research and Brown University. The deaths of his half sisters, Susan Sturgis de Sastre and Josephine Sturgis, in 1928 and 1930, respectively, were extremely distressing to him. Santayana and Charles Strong continued their epistolary debate over the nature and perception of reality and the problem of knowledge. The book also includes letters to Robert Bridges, Cyril Clemens, Morris R. Cohen, Curt John Ducasse, Sydney Hook, Horace Meyer Kallen, Walter Lippmann, Ralph Barton Perry, William Lyon Phelps, and Herbert W. Schneider. Santayana sent many letters with articles and reviews to journalists Wendell T. Bush, Henry Seidel Canby, Wilbur Cross, and John Middleton Murry. Discussion of his novel and continuing work on Realms of Being took place with Otto Kyllmann and John Hall Wheelock, his editors at Constable and Scribner's. Although Santayana now made the Hotel Bristol in Rome his permanent residence, he continued to travel in England, France, and Italy.

The Works of George Santayana, Volume V

Book Three of George Santayana’s letters covers a period of intense intellectual activity in Santayana’s life, and the correspondence reflects the establishment of his mature philosophy. Santayana becomes more permanently established in Italy, but continues to travel in France, Spain, and England. The year 1927 marks the beginning of his long friendship with Daniel Cory, who became his literary secretary and eventually his literary executor. Also, with the death of Santayana’s half-brother Robert, George Sturgis, Robert’s son, becomes an important part of Santayana’s life and letters as his financial manager. Santayana continues to write to his sister Susana, as well as to numerous friends and fellow philosophers, including Bernard Berenson, Robert Seymour Bridges, Curt John Ducasse, John Erskine, Horace Meyer Kaller, Lewis Mumford, George Herbert Palmer, John Francis Stanley Russell, Herbert Wallace Schneider, Charles Augustus Strong, Paul Weiss, and Harry Austryn Wolfson. Other correspondents include Wendell T. Bush, Alys Gregory, Marianne Moore, John Middleton Murray, and Frederick J. E. Woodbridge.

The Works of George Santayana, Volume V

Since the first selection of George Santayana’s letters was published in 1955, shortly after his death, many more letters have been located. The Works of George Santayana, Volume V, brings together a total of more than 3,000 letters. The volume is divided chronologically into eight books of roughly comparable length. Book Two covers Santayana’s first decade as a "freelance philosopher," following his resignation from Harvard University and move to Europe. Of particular interest is Santayana’s continuing correspondence with the American philosopher Charles Augustus Strong and with his sister Susana Sturgis de Sastre. Also included is correspondence with such notable figures as Bertrand Russell, Robert Seymour Bridges, Horace Kallen, and Logan Pearsall Smith. The correspondence covers Santayana’s resignation from Harvard, his time in England during World War I, and comments on his philosophical work during this period.

The Works of George Santayana, Volume V

edited and with an introduction by William G. Holzberger Since the first selection of George Santayana's letters was published in 1955, shortly after his death, many more letters have been located. The Works of George Santayana, Volume V, brings together a total of 3,081 letters. The volume is divided chronologically into eight books of roughly comparable length. Book One covers the longest period of time, in effect spanning Santayana's correspondence from the 1880s through most of the first decade of the twentieth century. It illuminates Santayana's life from the age of nineteen until well into his middle years, when he had established his professional career as a full professor at Harvard.In his introduction, William Holzberger summarizes their significance as follows: "We find in Santayana's letters not only a distillation of his philosophy but also a multitude of new perspectives on the published work. The responses to his correspondents are filled with spontaneous comments on and restatements of his fundamental philosophical ideas and principles. Because Santayana's philosophy was not for him a thing apart, but rather the foundation of his existence, the letters indicate the ways in which his entire life was permeated and directed by that philosophy."

A Memoir in the Form of a Novel

Published in 1935, George Santayana's The Last Puritan was the American philosopher's only novel. It became an instant best-seller, immediately linked in its painful voyage of self discovery to The Education of Henry Adams. It is essentially a novel of ideas, expressed in the birth, life, and early death of Oliver Alden.The Last Puritan is volume four in a new critical edition of The Works of George Santayana that restores Santayana's original text and provides important new scholarly information. Books in this series - the first complete publication of Santayana's works - include an editorial apparatus with notes to the text (identifying persons, places, and ideas), textual commentary (including a description of the composition and publication history, along with a discussion of editorial methods and decisions), discussions of adopted readings, lists of variants and emendations, and line-end hyphenations.

Irving Singer's new introduction to this edition takes up Santayana's philosophical and artistic concerns, including issues of homosexuality raised by the depiction of the novel's two protagonists, Oliver and Mario, and of the relationship between Oliver and the rogue character Jim Darnley. In his thoughtful analysis Singer finds the term "homosexual novel" too reductionist and imprecise for what Santayana is trying to achieve. Singer brings to light the author's skillful and inventive methods for perceiving and interpreting reality, including ideal forms of friendship, and his success in exploring the pervasive moral problems that people face throughout their existence.

Interpretations of Poetry and Religion is the third volume in a new critical edition of the complete works of George Santayana that restores Santayana's original text and provides important new scholarly information.Published in the spring of 1900, Interpretations of Poetry and Religion was George Santayana's first book of critical prose. It developed his view that "poetry is called religion when it intervenes in life, and religion, when it merely supervenes upon life, is seen to be nothing but poetry." This statement and the point of view it espoused contributed significantly to the debate between science and religion at the turn of the century, and its eloquence and clearsightedness continue to have an impact on current discussions about the nature of religion.Interpretations of Poetry and Religion affronted Santayana's peers with its assault on literary and religious pieties of the cultivated classes. William James called its philosophy of harmonious and integral ideal systems nothing less than "a perfection of rottenness."In his insightful introductory essay, Joel Porte observes that while Santayana's theory of correlative objects, his espousal of the "ideal" - the normal human affinity for abstraction - and exaltation of the imagination may have offended some at Harvard, these ideas had a significant influence on other Harvard scholars T.S. Eliot and Santayana's "truest disciple," Wallace Stevens.Herman J. Saatkamp, Jr., heads the Department of Philosophy and Humanities at Texas A & M University. William G. Holzberger is a Professor of English at Bucknell University. Joel Porte is Whiton Professor of American Literature at Cornell University