Leo Strauss (Transl. by: Elena Kukhar 1 ; Translation ed. by: Alexander Pavlov 2)
  • 1 Lomonosov Moscow State University, 1 Leninskie Gory, Moscow, 119991, Russia
  • 2 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

Persecution and the art of writing

2012, vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 12–25 [issue contents]

Leo Strauss’ “Persecution and the art of writing” is one of the most important philosophical and political texts of the 20th century. The 1941 article in 1952 became a key part of the expended eponimous book that would become the greatest source of specific methodology of studying the texts of the great philosophers: Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Machiavelli, Locke, etc. In this article Strauss suggests to read “great texts” exoterically and esoterically, that is, to read “between the lines” to better understand the authors’ ideas. According to Strauss, the philosophers and “attentively book-reading intellectuals” who tried to tell the truth to society had reasons to fear persecution by the authorities or the social environment ranging from social stigma to the death penalty. Therefore, some philosophers, even in the “most liberal” historical periods have used a special type of “writing”, the esoteric one. Authors do not use this method every time, but Strauss proves that there were reasons for great philosophers to write “between the lines”, and tries to give us the means to see when it happened. Strauss considers Niccolo Machiavelli as one of the philosophers who could write between the lines. Strauss’ article was not only regarded by historians as a central directive for working with texts, but also used as an accusation of Strauss himself for his “esoteric” writing. The article and the eponymous book have spawned controversy about the legacy of Leo Strauss.

Citation: Strauss Leo (2012) Presledovanie i iskusstvo pis'ma [Persecution and the art of writing] The Russian Sociological Review, 3, pp. 12-25 (in Russian)
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