Summer 1955 • Vol. XVII No. 3 NonfictionJuly 1, 1955 |

Reflections of Toynbee

Toynbee's ten volumes do not seem at this moment of thought to have made a masterpiece; neither do they make, as one reviewer said, an obsession to be examined and allowed for, to be troubled by and dismissed. They make rather a possibility of a coming masterpiece in each reader's mind. They make possible a major action of mind. I suppose this is why so many reviewers and critics (for the two are not the same) have asked of Toynbee that he now write a book. I would suggest the possibility that Toynbee, like Plato, thinks of an intimacy, of a fire of contact, other than those that take place between books and readers, books and books, or even readers and readers, as the intimacy out of which alone can be bred a masterpiece. In quoting Plato's letter to that tyrant of society and of the Psyche who wished him to "write" his philosophy, Toynbee rejects Plato's argument (or rather his indignation) as a matter of practical urgency, but accepts it in every rhythm and cadence of his comment

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