Segments in this Video

How Did You Become a Historian of Ideas? (03:11)


Tzvetan Todorov was initially interested only in literature language and structure. He embraced ideas upon moving to France and realizing the people continue centuries-old discussions.

Close Enemies of Democracy (05:05)

Todorov says internal enemies became apparent after the Berlin Wall fell. Democracy is defined by the balance of several principles. Freedom is limited by concern for the greater good; without laws, the strong can oppress the weak.

Progress and Democracy (02:08)

Todorov argues that the notion of progress can be abused to impose one's will on others. This can betray democracy, which opposes the use of force for the greater good.

The People and Democracy (02:19)

Todorov distinguishes democracy from populism, which results in uninformed political decisions. He discusses how European popular parties are scapegoating foreigners and increasing xenophobia.

What does Literature Teach Politics? (03:27)

Todorov says specific books can influence thoughts and behavior. Literature impacts society by allowing readers to experience the spirits of others unlike them.

Fantasy Literature (04:27)

The idea of fantasy grew during the 19th century in response to scientific and positivist thinking. Todorov references ambivalent characters in Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw." Representing ambivalence is possible in cinema, but not in painting.

Goya's Paintings and Our Time (04:04)

Todorov explains why Goya was a prophet of his time and provides a historical context for his ideas and work. He discusses the artist's interest in the "nocturnal" universe within us and use of fantasy to represent invisible fears and desires.

Credits: Critical Thinkers - Tzvetan Todorov (00:39)

Credits: Critical Thinkers - Tzvetan Todorov

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Critical Thinkers - Tzvetan Todorov

Part of the Series : Critical Thinkers
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $129.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $194.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $129.95



Born in Bulgaria, he became a prominent intellectual in France, writing about literature and the history of ideas. Tzvetan Todorov lived in France for more than 50 years until his death in early 2017. Author of a diverse bibliography, he granted an interview for this series in his apartment in Paris to talk about his intellectual trajectory, politics, literature and art, and discussed the enemies of freedom and democracy in the contemporary world.

Length: 27 minutes

Item#: BVL188662

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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