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Christian Moraru

Professor, American Literature & Critical Theory

Christian Moraru

The Treason of the Intellectuals by Julien Benda

Originally published in French as La trahison des clercs in 1927 and translated into English shortly thereafter, Julien Benda's The Treason of the Intellectuals has been among the most influential titles in modern intellectual history on both sides of the Atlantic. Constantly in the background of the debate around culture, nation, and the intellectuals' place in them, the book stays fresh and provocative despite the ever-renewed attempts to harness it to this or that political agenda. As we move into the twentieth-first century, Benda's thoughts about the "systematic nationalization" the brightest minds have undergone in modern times remain equally insightful and troubling. The Treason's "disinterested intelligence" argument is certainly not to be taken indiscriminately but as a challenge to those of us reflecting on the social, ethnic, national, or international bearings of our work as we do it.