C.P. Snow — The Two Cultures, or: "Renaissance man is not possible"

Annette L. Combrink
1981 Koers : Bulletin for Christian Scholarship  
split into two polar groups. Snow, although a novelist himself, seems to condemn the literary intellectuals in his advocacy o f science as the most revolutionary force in the world today. He is convinced that, because science is essentially "progressive", and the political views ofthe scientists are more tenable and workable, the scientists would possess the meansand the desire -to end want and disease in every corner o f the world. Snow is o f the opinion that, together with their holding to
more » ... their holding to dangerous and "antisocial" views on politics, literary intellectuals have "the strongest possible wish that the future shall not exist". This is, to his mind, the most dangerous aspect o f the schism, the lack o f communication, fo r the scientists, to his mind, "have the future in their bones, while traditional culture [represented by the literary intellectuals] wishes that the future did not exist". Snow further attacks the policy o f academic specialization in the schools and universities, feeling that this leads to the essential impoverishment to be observed in the intellectual life. It is this situation, he also feels, which adds to the inability o f the developed nations to help meaningfully in the development o f the underdeveloped and the undeveloped nations. He finally brings all his ideas in line with his concern with aid to those nations, but he cannot escape a certain paternalistic humanitarianism. Charles Percy Snow (later to become Lord Snow of Leicester) has gained a place in English literary history both as a novelist and as a "man of ideas" (Davis, 1965, p. 3). Snow has had an extraordinary career, moving from the world of science to the world of letters2 to the world of politics and ad-1. A Second I .ook, p. 61. 2. Hr lias an impressive list (about 16) novels to his credit. Koers, 46(4), 1981 365 3. "Tlirrr have been plenty of (lays w hen I have spent the working hours with scientists and then gone oil at night with some literary colleagues" (Snow , 196U, p. 2). 4. T h isic lle c tso n eo f the central concerns o f the lecture, and tics in with one o f the m ain themes explored in his novels as well.
doi:10.4102/koers.v46i4.1126 fatcat:l3ys5v2iurcqbksbvlarkhgc7y