Halévy, Élie

Halévy, Élie

(ālē` älāvē`), 1870–1937, French historian, an authority on 19th-century England; son of Ludovic Halévy. In The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism (3 vol., 1901–4; tr., new ed. 1949) Halévy made a major contribution to the intellectual history of utilitarianism. His masterpiece, a historical classic, is A History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century (6 vol., 1912–30; tr., 2d ed. 1949–52). Based on massive research, it describes and analyzes the development of ideas and institutions. Particularly notable is the first volume, England in 1815, a brilliant re-creation of social, political, economic, and religious conditions.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Halévy, Élie


Born Sept. 6, 1870, in Etretat, Seine-Inférieure; died Aug. 21, 1937, in Sucy-en-Brie. French historian; leading specialist on the history of Great Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Halévy was department chairman at the Free School of Political Science in Paris from 1898 (with an interruption during World War I, 1914-18). His principal work was the four-volume History of the English People in the 19th Century, which covered events from 1815 to 1852. To this he added a two-volume Epilogue, discussing events from 1895 to 1914. The first volume of this was published in Russian translation in 1937. An advocate of social and political compromise, Halévy devoted primary attention to the development of English parliamentarianism, which he idealized. He viewed English imperialism only as a system of foreign policy dictated by the British fear of losing their former economic and political position. In his posthumously published lectures on socialism (1948), Halévy alleged that socialism was a product of war. Works that he wrote after World War I are pessimistic. Predicting that “the nationalistic tyrannies of Berlin and Rome” would unleash a war against the bourgeois democracies of Europe, Halévy saw no force capable of stopping fascism.


Histoire du peuple anglais au XIX siècle, vols. 1-4. Paris, 1923-47.
La Théorie platonicienne des sciences. Paris, 1896.
La Formation du radicalisme philosophique, vols. 1-3. Paris, 1901-04.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.