NORBERT ELIAS (1897-1990) was one of the greatest sociologists of the twentieth century. He studied with Alfred Weber in Mannheim and served as Karl Mannheim's assistant in Frankfurt. On Hitler's coming to power, he went into exile. His magnum opus The Civilising Process received little attention when it was published in Switzerland in 1939 and it was only after Elias's formal retirement in 1962 that most of his other books and essays were published.
The writings in this volume previously unpublished in English include the essay 'On Seeing in Nature', his doctoral dissertation 'Idea and Individual', a response to Karl Mannheim's famous paper on cultural competition, and a number of short stories contributed to a newspaper. Other essays collected together here concern primitive art, the sociology of German anti-Semitism, kitsch style and the age of kitsch, and the expulsion of the Huguenots from France. This edition includes as an appendix a draft outline of Elias' Habilitation thesis begun under Alfred Weber. "Early Writings" have been translated from the German edition, Fruschriften, published by Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt/Main as volume 1 of the Norbert Elias Gesammelte Schriften, 2002.
- biographical note
Note on the text
Three-day excursion to the Riesengebirge (1914)
On seeing in nature (1921)
Idea and individual
- A critical investigation of the concept of history (1924)
Idea and individual
- A contribution to the philosophy of history (1924)
Contribution to the debate on Karl Mannheim
- The importance of competition in the intellectual field (1929)
On primitive art (1929)
The sociology of German anti-Semitism (1929)
The kitsch style and the age of kitsch (1935). The expulsion of the Huguenots from France (1935)
- The emergence of the modern natural sciences (c. 1925-6)
"As always we are glad to see Irish publishers recognising and catering for the rest of the world. In this case the typography and binding (full cloth, with acetate jacket, silk bands and ribbon) would make any publisher proud."
"The enterprise of publishing the collected works of Norbert Elias under the editorship of Richard Kilminster and Stephen Mennell by University College Dublin Press is an extremely important contribution to the contemporary intellectual and academic scene. Norbert Elias was one of the most original minds in the human and social sciences in the 20th century – his work covers not only a very broad range of sociological topics starting with his classical The Civilising Process and later The Court Society, but also many topics ranging from sociology of knowledge to sociology of sport and analysis of historical processes; the broad philosophical problems, such as the idea of the place of the progress of symbolic dimensions in social life. This is really a monumental enterprise, very worthwhile and very constructive, presenting a great challenge to the contemporary intellectual and academic scene – and UCD Press should be congratulated in undertaking this enterprise."
S. N. Eisenstadt
Jerusalem, 24 July 2008
"Too easily the editors and readers of Books Ireland take it as given that Irish publishers’ books are mostly about Ireland or by Irish writers. We wish it were not so because we think our publishers are of world class, and a shining exception and exemplar is this series of eighteen volumes of the life’s work in English – some of his work was written in German – of Elias (1897–1990) whose major theme was the theory of civilising processes … Norbert is very interesting on the subject as well as on the dynamics of sports, social (and especially male) bonding, violence and football hooliganism. These books are in the very best tradition of design, with acid-free paper, sewn bindings, cloth boards, coloured endpapers, spine labels and acetate jackets."
'The Collected Works of Norbert Elias that is being published by University College Dublin Press. Eighteen volumes are planned. The production is exemplary, from binding and paper quality through the editorial care. Earlier translations have been corrected and changes noted; editors’ notes explain circumstances within which Elias wrote and clarify references he makes to lesser known authors and contemporary events.'
Canadian Journal of Sociology 35(4) 2010
Read Stephen Mennell being interviewed about Norbert Elias
in Sociologica, 2014
Read the January 2015 newsletter of the Norbert Elias Foundation
Norbert Elias died on 1 August 1990.
To mark the twentieth anniversary, the German radio station WDR3
(Westdeutscher Rundfunk 3. Programm) broadcast a fifteen
-minute programme in its daily ZeitZeichen series
You can find out more information about Elias by visiting the Norbert Elias Foundation website