A Herzen Reader
presents in English for the first time one hundred essays and editorials by the radical Russian thinker Alexander Herzen (1812–1870). Herzen wrote most of these pieces for The Bell
, a revolutionary newspaper he launched with the poet Nikolai Ogaryov in London in 1857. Smugglers secretly carried copies of The Bell
into Russia, where it influenced debates over the emancipation of the serfs and other reforms. With his characteristic irony, Herzen addressed such issues as freedom of speech, a nonviolent path to socialism, and corruption and paranoia at the highest levels of government. He discussed what he saw as the inability of even a liberator like Czar Alexander II to commit to change. A Herzen Reader
stands on its own for its fascinating glimpse into Russian intellectual life of the 1850s and 1860s. It also provides invaluable context for understanding Herzen’s contemporaries, including Fyodor Dostoevsky and Ivan Turgenev.