Cover image for Keynes : a critical life
Keynes : a critical life
Felix, David, 1921-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvii, 322 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Reading Level:
1380 Lexile.
Format :


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HB103.K47 F444 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Only a person of Keynes's unique character could have achieved what he did. After teaching neoclassical economics for two decades, he developed an extraordinary theory--extraordinary in that it built upon the theoretical complex he intended to overthrow and extraordinary in that it provided the best guidance for defeating the Depression of the 1930s and managing an economy thereafter. This biography shows how Keynes's personality left its stamp on his ideas, the connections between his all-too-human quirks and his theorizing, between his dominating personality and his success as a policymaker. Although sympathetic to the man, his aims, and his accomplishments, this is the first critical biography of John Maynard Keynes.

Based on the mass of material Keynes left behind, including hundreds of letters, the book shows how he thought, rationalized, and acted, as well as the connections between the fallible human and the abstract theory. It shows his transformation from an active homosexual to a contented married man--the relationship giving him a personal and social stability that was important to his achievement. It shows his superb confidence that he was right--even when he completely reversed his previous position--and his unshakable resolution to see his ideas carried out. This is A Critical Life --critical because Keynes's life had a critical impact, and because the book takes a critical look at that life.

Author Notes

DAVID FELIX is Professor Emeritus of History at the City University of New York. He is the author of several books, including, most recently, Biography of an Idea: John Maynard Keynes and THE GENERAL THEORY OF EMPLOYMENT, INTEREST, AND MONEY (1995).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This second part of a study of Keynes by Felix (emeritus history, CUNY) follows Biography of an Idea: John Maynard Keynes and The General Theory (1995). This volume spends less time on Keynes's economics or activities as an economist and more on his personal life and relationships. Like its predecessor, the study draws on no new sources (indeed its coverage of the literature is incomplete); so the value added must come from differences in interpretation or perspective. Here Felix is hampered by his conclusion that "The General Theory's model of an economy is no model. It simply does not represent economic reality and provides no guide to thinking about it" (p. 250). Thus, Felix reduces the importance of Keynes's activities during the last decade or so of his life. If one adds to this Felix's limited tolerance for, or grasp of, economics and of the economic history of the interwar period, one is left with just his interpretation of the character-shaping influences of Keynes's childhood (here John Neville Keynes has a lot to answer for) and his discussions of Keynes in Bloomsbury, Keynes in love, and Maynard and Lydia, which often repeat factual mistakes from the earlier book. Use with critical care. Research collections only. D. E. Moggridge; University of Toronto

Table of Contents

A Double Life Introduction
Private and Public Fathers (and Mothers) and Sons (and Daughters) Training Functioning "A Kind of Affection" (and a Sense of Responsibility)
Keynes in Love Elective Affinities and Responsibilities
Keynes in Bloomsbury Retraining Life with Lydia
An Affair of State Married Life with Lydia
A British Institution A Life in Theory Afterlife