WILLIAM GRIMES 2012年10月15日
艾瑞克·J·霍布斯鮑姆(Eric J. Hobsbawm) 10月1日在倫敦去世，享年95歲。他曾撰寫篇幅長達三卷的經濟史，追溯工業資本主義的崛起，這使他成為英國首屈一指的馬克思主義歷史學家。
Roland Schlager/European Pressphoto Agency
英國共產黨黨內，在包括克里斯托弗·希爾(Christopher Hill)、E·P·湯普森(EP Thompson)以及雷蒙德·威廉姆斯(Raymond Williams)等人的歷史學家圈子中，霍布斯鮑姆是一個領軍人物。他幫助重塑了人們對歷史的傳統解讀（即歷史是由大人物策劃的一系列重大事件）。相反，他關注的是19世紀的工人運動，以及早期資本主義社會被他稱為“政治前的”土匪、千禧年信徒以及城市暴徒的反抗。
他的代表作依然是對他所稱的“漫長的19世紀”的全面回顧。他的論述非常深刻，很多地方語句精彩。他將自己的分析分成三卷：《革命的年代：1789-1848》(The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848)、《資本的年代: 1848-1875》(The Age of Capital: 1848-1875)和《帝國的年代: 1874-1914 》(The Age of Empire: 1874-1914)。1994年，《極端的年代》(The Age of Extremes)（其美國版的副標題是“世界歷史：1914-1991”）為上述三部曲加上了一個尾聲。
“在用英語敘述歷史的偉大傳統中，艾瑞克·J·霍布斯鮑姆是一名傑出的歷史學家，”紐約大學(New York University)歷史學教授托尼·朱特(Tony Judt)在2008年的一封電子郵件中寫道。朱特在兩年後去世。“與那些更傾向於趕時髦的模仿者相比，他無論寫什麼話題都寫得好得多，而且通常閱讀的資料更多，理解更廣泛、更細膩。如果不是終生的共產主義者，他將作為20世紀最偉大的歷史學家之一被人銘記。”
1917年，艾瑞克·約翰·霍布斯鮑姆出生在埃及的亞歷山大。在當地的英國領事館，犯糊塗的工作人員拼錯了他父親的姓。他的父親名叫利奧波德·珀西·霍布斯鮑姆(Leopold Percy Hobsbaum)，是個落魄的生意人，來自倫敦東區。他的母親內莉·格林(Nelly Grün)是奧地利人。一戰結束後，這個猶太家庭在維也納安頓下來。1929年，就在一家人艱辛度日的時候，艾瑞克的父親猝死在自家門口，很可能是心髒病發作。兩年後，內莉因肺部疾病去世。隨後，霍布斯鮑姆被送到柏林，和親戚一起生活。
在魏瑪共和國苟延殘喘的最後幾個月裡，霍布斯鮑姆這個高材生成了一名充滿激情的共產主義者和布爾什維克革命(Bolshevik Revolution)的忠實信徒。“十月革命的夢想依然在我身體的某個地方，就像電腦硬盤上被刪掉的文章一樣，它們依然在等著被專家恢復，”他在《趣味橫生的時光》(Interesting Times)一書中寫道。該書是他的回憶錄，於2003年出版。
他的叔叔不允許他加入共產黨或工黨(Labor Party)（霍布斯鮑姆想從內部顛覆工黨），於是他專注於在倫敦聖瑪麗利本語法學校(St. Marylebone Grammar School)的學業，最終獲得劍橋大學(University of Cambridge)的獎學金。1936年，他在劍橋大學加入共產黨，擔任《格蘭塔》(Granta) 周刊的編輯，還應邀加入由知識分子組成的非正式精英社團“劍橋使徒”(Cambridge Apostles)。
1939年，霍布斯鮑姆以最高榮譽從國王學院(King's College)本科畢業，接著在1942年取得碩士學位，並於1951年獲得博士學位，他的博士論文以費邊社（Fabian Society，英國一個社會主義派別——譯者註）為研究對象。1943年，霍布斯鮑姆與公務員繆麗爾·西曼(Muriel Seaman)結婚，她也是一名共產黨員。那段婚姻在1950年以離婚告終。1962年，霍布斯鮑姆娶了馬琳·施瓦茨(Marlene Schwarz)，她仍健在。除了他的女兒，他死後留下兒子安德魯(Andrew)和喬斯·班納森(Joss Bennathan)，還有七個孫子和一個重孫子。
霍布斯鮑姆和他在英國共產黨歷史學家小組(Historians' Study Group of the Communist Party)的同事一道，開創了勞動史的研究，並將其確立為一個重要研究領域。他們在1952年創辦了一份有影響力的期刊《過去與現在》(Past and Present)，作為他們的主要陣地。
這種新的撰寫歷史的方法帶來了豐碩成果，相關著作包括：《原始的叛亂：十九至二十世紀社會運動的古樸形式》(Primitive Rebels: Studies inArchaic Forms of Social Movement in the 19th and 20th Centuries)、《勞動者：勞動歷史的研究》(Laboring Men: Studies in the History of Labor)，以及克里斯托弗·希爾《工業革命的改革》的姊妹篇《工業和帝國》(Industry and Empire)。
在這個時期，霍布斯鮑姆還以弗朗西斯·牛頓(Francis Newton)為筆名——這個名字來自爵士樂小號手、公開的共產主義者弗蘭基·牛頓(Frankie Newton)，為《新政治家與民族》(The New Statesman and Nation)雜誌撰寫爵士音樂評論文章。他甚至寫了一本關於爵士樂的專著，書名為《爵士風情》(The Jazz Scene)，於1959年出版。
如果說政治傾向阻礙了他的職業進展——就像他在自己的回憶錄中所辯稱的，那麼他最終還是得到了榮譽和認可。1959年，他終於在倫敦大學(University of London)升任高級講師，並且於1970年取得經濟和社會史教授頭銜。1982年退休後，他曾在斯坦福大學(Stanford University)、麻省理工學院(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)、康奈爾大學(Cornell University)和曼哈頓的社會研究新學院(New School for Social Research)執教。
霍布斯鮑姆直到90多歲還繼續寫作，經常為《紐約書評》和其它期刊撰文。他所著的《如何改朝換代：馬克思及馬克思主義的故事》(How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism)一書去年剛剛出版，而另外一本描寫20世紀文化和社會的文集——《斷裂的時代》(Fractured Times)——也計劃於2013年3月由英國利特爾布朗出版社出版發行。
Eric J. Hobsbawm, Marxist Historian, Dies at 95
October 15, 2012Eric J. Hobsbawm, whose three-volume economic history of the rise of industrial capitalism established him as Britain’s pre-eminent Marxist historian, died on Monday in London. He was 95.
The cause was pneumonia, said his daughter, Julia Hobsbawm.
Mr. Hobsbawm, the leading light in a group of historianswithin the British Communist Party that included Christopher Hill, E. P. Thompson and Raymond Williams, helped recast the traditional understanding of history as a series of great events orchestrated by great men. Instead, he focused on labor movements in the 19th century and what he called the “pre-political” resistance of bandits, millenarians and urban rioters in early capitalist societies.
His masterwork remains his incisive and often eloquent survey of the period he referred to as “the long 19th century,” which he analyzed in three volumes: “The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848,” “The Age of Capital: 1848-1875” and “The Age of Empire: 1874-1914.” To this trilogy he appended a coda in 1994, “The Age of Extremes,” published in the United States with the subtitle “A History of the World, 1914-1991.”
“Eric J. Hobsbawm was a brilliant historian in the great English tradition of narrative history,” Tony Judt, a professor of history at New York University, wrote in an e-mail in 2008, two years before he died. “On everything he touched he wrote much better, had usually read much more, and had a broader and subtler understanding than his more fashionable emulators. If he had not been a lifelong Communist he would be remembered simply as one of the great historians of the 20th century.”
Unlike many of his comrades, Mr. Hobsbawm, who lived in London, stuck with the Communist Party after the Soviet Union crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and the Czech reform movement in 1968. He eventually let his party membership lapse about the time the Berlin Wall fell and the Eastern bloc disintegrated in 1989.
“I didn’t want to break with the tradition that was my life and with what I thought when I first got into it,” he told The New York Times in 2003. “I still think it was a great cause, the emancipation of humanity. Maybe we got into it the wrong way, maybe we backed the wrong horse, but you have to be in that race, or else human life isn’t worth living.”
Eric John Hobsbawm was born in 1917 in Alexandria, Egypt, where a confused clerk at the British consulate misspelled the last name of his father, Leopold Percy Hobsbaum, an unsuccessful merchant from the East End of London. His mother, Nelly Grün, was Austrian, and after World War I ended, the family, which was Jewish, settled in Vienna. The Hobsbawms were struggling to make ends meet when, in 1929, Eric’s father dropped dead on his own doorstep, probably of a heart attack. Two years later Nelly died of lung disease, and her son was shipped off to live with relatives in Berlin.
In the waning months of the Weimar Republic, Mr. Hobsbawm, a gifted student, became a passionate Communist and a true believer in the Bolshevik Revolution. “The dream of the October Revolution is still there somewhere inside me, as deleted texts are still waiting to be recovered by experts, somewhere on the hard disks of computers,” he wrote in “Interesting Times,” a memoir published in 2003.
Mr. Hobsbawm, a cool introvert, found exhilaration and fellowship in the radical politics of the street in Germany. As a member of a Communist student organization, he slipped party fliers under apartment doors in the weeks after Hitler’s appointment as chancellor and at one point concealed an illegal duplicating machine under his bed. Within weeks, however, he was sent to Britain to live with yet another set of relatives.
Forbidden by his uncle to join either the Communist Party or the Labour Party (which Mr. Hobsbawm hoped to subvert from within), he concentrated on his studies at St. Marylebone Grammar School in London and won a scholarship to Cambridge. There he joined the Communist Party in 1936, edited the weekly journal Granta and accepted an invitation to join the elite, informal society of intellectuals known as the Apostles.
“It was an invitation that hardly any Cambridge undergraduate was likely to refuse, since even revolutionaries like to be in a suitable tradition,” he wrote in “Interesting Times.” He described himself as a “Tory communist,” unsympathetic to the politics of personal liberation that marked the 1960s.
Mr. Hobsbawm graduated from King’s College with highest honors in 1939 and went on to earn a master’s degree in 1942 and a doctorate in 1951, writing his dissertation on the Fabian Society. In 1943 he married Muriel Seaman, a civil servant and fellow Communist. That marriage ended in divorce in 1950. In 1962 he married Marlene Schwarz, who survives him. In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his son Andrew; another son, Joss Bennathan; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
Mr. Hobsbawm and his colleagues in the Historians’ Study Group of the Communist Party established labor history as an important field of study and in 1952 created an influential journal, Past and Present, as a home base.
The rich dividends from this new approach to writing history were apparent in works like “Primitive Rebels: Studies in Archaic Forms of Social Movement in the 19th and 20th Centuries,” “Laboring Men: Studies in the History of Labor” and “Industry and Empire,” the companion volume to Christopher Hill’s “Reformation to Industrial Revolution.”
During this period, Mr. Hobsbawm also wrote jazz criticism for The New Statesman and Nation under the pseudonym Francis Newton, a sly reference to the jazz trumpeter Frankie Newton, an avowed Communist. His jazz writing led to a book, “The Jazz Scene,” published in 1959.
If his political allegiances stymied his professional advancement, as he argued in his memoir, honors and recognition eventually came his way. At the University of London, he was finally promoted to a readership in 1959 and was named professor of economic and social history in 1970. After retiring in 1982 he taught at Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University and the New School for Social Research in Manhattan.
The accolades for works like his “Age of” trilogy led to membership in learned societies and honorary degrees, but to the end of his life the Communist militant coexisted uneasily with the professional historian.
Not until his 80s, in “The Age of Extremes,” did Mr. Hobsbawm dare turn to the century whose horrific events had shaped his politics. The book was an anguished reckoning with a period he had avoided as a historian because, as he wrote in his memoir, “given the strong official Party and Soviet views about the 20th century, one could not write about anything later than 1917 without the strong likelihood of being denounced as a political heretic.”
Mr. Hobsbawm continued to write well into his 90s, appearing frequently in The New York Review of Books and other periodicals. His “How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism” was published last year, and “Fractured Times,” a collection of essays on 20th-century culture and society, is scheduled to be published by Little, Brown in Britain in March 2013.
Although increasingly on the defensive, and quite willing to say that the great Communist experiment had not only failed but had been doomed from the start, Mr. Hobsbawm refused to recant or, many critics complained, to face up to the human misery it had created. “Historical understanding is what I’m after, not agreement, approval, or sympathy,” he wrote in his memoir.
In 1994, he shocked viewers when, in an interview with Michael Ignatieff on the BBC, he said that the deaths of millions of Soviet citizens under Stalin would have been worth it if a genuine Communist society had been the result.
“The greatest price he will pay is to be remembered not as Eric J. Hobsbawm the historian but as Eric J. Hobsbawm the unrepentant Communist historian,” Mr. Judt said. “It’s unfair and it’s a pity, but that is the cross he will bear.”