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C. P. Snow
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C. P. Snow

C. P. Snow, born Charles Percy Snow, (1905-1980) was a scientist and novelist.

Born in Leicester, he was educated at University College, Leicester and Cambridge University.

Snow is most noted for his lectures and books regarding his concept of "The Two Cultures", as developed in The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (1959). Here he notes that the breakdown of communication between the sciences and the humanities is a major hindrance to solving the world's problems.

In particular, Snow argues that the quality of education in the world is on the decline. For example, many scientists have never read Charles Dickens, but literary intellectuals are often unable to describe the second law of thermodynamics.

Snow adds:

"When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion."

Snow's lecture aroused considerable ferment at the time of its delivery, partly because of the uncompromising style in which he stated his case. He was strongly criticised by the literary critic F. R. Leavis. The dispute even inspired a comic song on the subject of the second law of thermodynamics from Flanders & Swann;.

Snow believed that the intellectual leaders of the day were immoral, anti-intellectual, and anxious to restrict both art and thought. Snow also took note of another divide; that between rich and poor nations.

Snow's first novel was the whodunnit Death under Sail (1932). However, he is much better known as the author of a sequence of political novels entitled Strangers and Brothers depicting intellectuals in academic and government settings in the modern era. He also wrote a biography of Anthony Trollope.

C.P. Snow was married to novelist Pamela Hansford Johnson.

See also: