Norbert Elias, Interviews and Autobiographical Reflections, edited by Edmund Jephcott, Stephen Mennell, Richard Kilminster and Katie Liston (Dublin: UCD Press, 2013 [Collected Works, vol. 17]). xx + 332 pp. ISBN 978-1-906359-11-9. €60, but 20 per cent discount if ordered directly from the publisher’s website, www.ucdpress.ie.
In the last decade of his life, Elias gave many interviews in which he discussed aspects of his work, rebutting many common misunderstandings of his thinking and further developing ideas sketched out in his writings. Besides a selection of these ‘academic’ interviews (many of them not previously published in English, or not published at all), the book contains his essay in intellectual autobiography and a long interview in which he talks about his own life. Vol. 17 of the Collected Works can serve as an excellent introduction to Elias’s thinking overall.
The contents are as follows:
Norbert Elias, 1897–1990
Note on the text
AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY
1 Notes on a lifetime
2 Norbert Elias’s story of his life (1984) – nterview with Arend-Jan Heerma Van Voss and Bram Van Stolk
3 ‘Sociology … done in the right way’ (1984–5) – interview with Johan Heilbron
4 An interview in Amsterdam (1969) – interview with Johan Goudsblom
5 ‘On the Process of Civilisation’ revisited (1974) – interview with Stanislas Fontaine
6 Sociology as the history of manners (1978) – interview with Heiko Ernst
7 ‘I use historical studies to clarify certain universal human problems’ (1981) – interview with Didier Eribon
8 Knowledge and power (1984) – interview with Peter Ludes
9 The Janus face of states (1982) – interview with Peter Ludes, Frank Adler and Paul Piccone
10 ‘We are the late barbarians’ (1988) – interview with Nikolaus von Festenberg and Marion Schreiber
11 We need more empathy for the human difficulties of the process of civilisation’ (1989) – interview with Ulfried Geuter
12 ‘Perhaps I have had something to say that will have a future’ (1989) – interview with Wolfgang Engler
13 A ‘Jewish Portrait’ (1989) – interview with Herlinde Koelbl
I Selected poems
II On re-reading my doctoral dissertation
III Editorial note on Erich Kallius and the Gumbel Case
IV List of interviews and conversations with Norbert Elias
The interviews numbered 3 and 9 have not previously been published in any language. Numbers 6, 7, 10, 11, 12 and 13 have not previously been published in English; number 7 has been translated from the French by Stephen Mennell, and the rest from German by Edmund Jephcott, as also were Appendices II and III.