Leszek Kolakowski (1927-2009), born in Radom, Poland, was Professor of the History of Philosophy at the University of Warsaw until expelled from that post for political reasons by the Communist authorities in 1968. He left Poland that same year and from 1970 was Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He was also Professor at the Committee on Social Thought at the University at Chicago. He is the author of, among others, Main Currents of Marxism, Religion, Bergson, God Owes us Nothing and Horror Metaphysicus; a large number of essay collections, among them Modernity on Endless Trial, The Two Eyes of Spinoza, Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? and Freedom, Fame, Lying and Betrayal; and three books of stories, The Key to Heaven, Conversations with the Devil and Tales from the Kingdom of Lailonia. He was the recipient of many honorary doctorates, both in Europe and in the US, and many prizes and awards - among them the Erasmus Prize, the Prix Tocqueville, the Jefferson Prize, the MacArthur award and the Kluge Prize.
There can be few more eminent figures in the world of ideas The Times The most esteemed philosopher Independent His distinctive mix of irony and moral seriousness, religious sensibility and epistemological scepticism, social engagement and political doubt was truly rare ... a true Central European intellectual - perhaps the last -- Tony Judt The New York Times Review of Books