30 April 2005

The working habits of Raymond Aron

Douglas Johnson's post Review: Getting Things Done by Ed Bliss (!), which mentions the “Stand-up Desk” used by "great writers like Hemingway, Woolf, Carroll, Nabokov and Winston Churchill", made me think about notes I had taken about the working methods of Philosopher and Sociologist Raymond Aron, une of the most influential French intellectuals in the twentieth century . Robert Colquhoun in his Raymond Aron. - Vol.1 : The philosopher in history 1905-1955, (London : Sage, 1986), p. 314 wrote : "Aron wanted to be free in the mornings to do his “serious” academic work and this would not have been possible on Le Monde, which appeared in the afternoon. It was at this time, therefore, that Aron established a work routine which when he was in Paris, did not normally vary. On his own admission, he had “great self discipline”, but if he tried to do too much, he slept badly and was unable to continue the next day. Accordingly he used to work at home every morning, from 7.30 till lunch time, week-end included, and this left him free to see people in the afternoons and to read after dinner. Thus to those who asked him how he managed to write so much, his reply was: “I don’t work long hours, but I work every day”. Even on his daughter wedding day he simply stopped working a little earlier than usual." (p. 314) He also gives the following quote from Roger Priouret: “One can ask anything of Raymond Aron, save a single hour of his mornings”(Roger Priouret, "Immuable et changeante", Le Figaro, 30 mai 1959.)

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