Splendid Isolation

Posted by Masakim on January 10, 2002

In Reply to: Splendid Isolation posted by The Fallen on January 10, 2002

: : Looking for a definition and background of this phrase for an assignment... Thanks for any help you can provide.

: It's obviously German philosophy hour right now (see previous posts re "you are what you eat"). This phrase is most famously attributed to Sigmund Freud, who coined it back in the early 1900's to describe both the frame of mind in which and the conditions under which he was writing at the time.

: As to definition, that's a little trickier. Clearly it refers to a state of being alone, and one that the person who is alone and therefore unbothered does not mind at all. The phrase also suggests someone standing alone in the face of massed ranks (and in Freud's case, the massed ranks of traditional opinion). Nowadays, however, I feel that there are faint additional connotations of vainglory and arrogance colouring the implicit heroism, since the idiom, when applied to people rather than locations, is so frequently used ironically.

: Any other opinions?

In these somewhat troublesome days when the great Mother Empire stands splendidly isolated in Europe. (George Foster's speech in the House of Commons of the Dominion of Canada, January 16, 1896)

Splendid isolation. (headline, _The Times, January 22, 1896)

We have stood here alone in what is called isolation -- our splendid isolation, as one of our colonial friends was good enough to call it. (The 1st Lord Goschen's speech at Lewes, February 26, 1896)