The “Silver Age” (c. 1890-1917) has been one of the most intensely studied topics in Russian literary studies, and for years scholars have been struggling with its precise definition. Firmly established in the Russian cultural psyche, it continues to influence both literature and mass media. The Archaeology of Anxiety is the first extended analysis of why the Silver Age occupies such prominence in Russian collective consciousness.
Galina Rylkova examines the Silver Age as a cultural construct-the byproduct of an anxiety that permeated society in reaction to the social, political, and cultural upheavals brought on by the Bolshevik Revolution, the fall of the Romanovs, the Civil War, and Stalin's Great Terror. Rylkova's astute analysis of writings by Anna Akhmatova, Vladimir Nabokov, Boris Pasternak and Victor Erofeev reveals how the construct of the Silver Age was perpetuated and ingrained.
Rylkova explores not only the Silver Age's importance to Russia's cultural identity but also the sustainability of this phenomenon. In so doing, she positions the Silver Age as an essential element to Russian cultural survival.
As readers of classic Russian literature know, the nineteenth century was a time of pervasive financial anxiety. With incomes erratic and banks inadequate, Russians of all social castes were deeply enmeshed in networks of credit and debt. The necessity of borrowing and lending shaped perceptions of material and moral worth, as well as notions of social respectability and personal responsibility. Credit and debt were defining features of imperial Russia’s culture of property ownership. Sergei Antonov recreates this vanished world of borrowers, bankrupts, lenders, and loan sharks in imperial Russia from the reign of Nicholas I to the period of great social and political reforms of the 1860s.Poring over a trove of previously unexamined records, Antonov gleans insights into the experiences of ordinary Russians, rich and poor, and shows how Russia’s informal but sprawling credit system helped cement connections among property owners across socioeconomic lines. Individuals of varying rank and wealth commonly borrowed from one another. Without a firm legal basis for formalizing debt relationships, obtaining a loan often hinged on subjective perceptions of trustworthiness and reputation. Even after joint-stock banks appeared in Russia in the 1860s, credit continued to operate through vast networks linked by word of mouth, as well as ties of kinship and community. Disputes over debt were common, and Bankrupts and Usurers of Imperial Russia offers close readings of legal cases to argue that Russian courts—usually thought to be underdeveloped in this era—provided an effective forum for defining and protecting private property interests.
Alexander Herzen—philosopher, novelist, essayist, political agitator, and one of the leading Russian intellectuals of the nineteenth century—was as famous in his day as Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. While he is remembered for his masterpiece My Past and Thoughts and as the father of Russian socialism, his contributions to the history of ideas defy easy categorization because they are so numerous. Aileen Kelly presents the first fully rounded study of the farsighted genius whom Isaiah Berlin called “the forerunner of much twentieth-century thought.”In an era dominated by ideologies of human progress, Herzen resisted them because they conflicted with his sense of reality, a sense honed by his unusually comprehensive understanding of history, philosophy, and the natural sciences. Following his unconventional decision to study science at university, he came to recognize the implications of early evolutionary theory, not just for the natural world but for human history. In this respect, he was a Darwinian even before Darwin.Socialism for Russia, as Herzen conceived it, was not an ideology—least of all Marxian “scientific socialism”—but a concrete means of grappling with unique historical circumstances, a way for Russians to combine the best of Western achievements with the possibilities of their own cultural milieu in order to move forward. In the same year that Marx declared communism to be the “solution to the riddle of history,” Herzen denied that any such solution could exist. History, like nature, was contingent—an improvisation both constrained and encouraged by chance.
Foreword by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The influence of liberalism in tsarist Russia is deeply problematic to most historians. In this highly original study, Victor Leontovitsch offers a reinterpretation of liberalism in a uniquely Russian form. He documents the struggles to develop civil society and individual liberties in imperial Russia up until their ultimate demise in the face of war, revolution, and the collapse of the old regime.
From Catherine the Great’s proposal of freedom for serfs born after a predetermined year, through the creation of zemstvos by Alexander II, and the emergence of the State Duma and a quasi-constitutional monarchy under Nicholas II, Leontovitsch chronicles the ebb and flow of liberal thought and action in the difficult circumstances of tsarist Russia. He cites numerous examples of debates over civil rights, property laws, emancipation, local jurisdiction, political rights, and constitutional proposals. Focusing on liberal reforms and reformers within the governing elite, Leontovitsch draws important distinctions between factions of radical (but fundamentally illiberal) progressives and true (but often concealed) liberalism.
This is the first English-language translation of Leontovitsch’s monumental work, which was originally published to critical acclaim in German in 1957. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn sponsored a Russian edition in 1980, and his introduction is translated for the foreword of this edition. With a wide readership in today’s Russia, The History of Liberalism in Russia continues to resonate as a penetrating analysis of the historical precedents of liberal thought and its potential as a counterweight to current autocratic tendencies and the uncertainties of Russia’s political future.
With its rocky transition to democracy, post-Soviet Russia has made observers wonder whether a moderating liberalism could ever succeed in such a land of extremes. But in Liberals under Autocracy, Anton A. Fedyashin looks back at the vibrant Russian liberalism that flourished in the country’s late imperial era, chronicling its contributions to the evolution of Russia’s rich literary culture, socioeconomic thinking, and civil society.
For five decades prior to the revolutions of 1917, The Herald of Europe (Vestnik Evropy) was the flagship journal of Russian liberalism, garnering a large readership. The journal articulated a distinctively Russian liberal agenda, one that encouraged social and economic modernization and civic participation through local self-government units (zemstvos) that defended individual rights and interests—especially those of the peasantry—in the face of increasing industrialization. Through the efforts of four men who turned The Herald into a cultural nexus in the imperial capital of St. Petersburg, the publication catalyzed the growing influence of journal culture and its formative effects on Russian politics and society.
Challenging deep-seated assumptions about Russia’s intellectual history, Fedyashin’s work casts the country’s nascent liberalism as a distinctly Russian blend of self-governance, populism, and other national, cultural traditions. As such, the book stands as a contribution to the growing literature on imperial Russia's nonrevolutionary, intellectual movements that emphasized the role of local politics in both successful modernization and the evolution of civil society in an extraparliamentary environment.
Russian-American Dialogue on Cultural Relations, 1776-1914, the third volume in the Russian-American Dialogues series, provides English translations of the best Russian scholarship on cultural relations. Each essay originally appeared as an article in the former Soviet Union. Five issues are discussed: the contributions that each country made to the cultural life of the other; the correspondence and interactions between scientists, writers, and others from the two nations; the development of public perceptions and how these changed over time; the "American focus" in Russian periodicals during the nineteenth century; and the significant roles of Russians and the Russian presence in American history. The Russian articles on each of these subjects are followed by comments from American historians.
The articles by the Russian scholars make extensive use of and liberally cite material from Russian archives and publications. As a result, they provide American readers with new scientific exchanges, personalities, and points of view. The result is a plethora of new material for Western historians of Russia as well as of the United States. The book provides an opportunity for scholars to examine more thoroughly the relevant issues of Russian-American cultural relations.
An important scholarly contribution, Russian-American Dialogue on Cultural Relations, 1776-1914 brings a new dimension to the relationship between the United States and Russia before 1914. It will be of interest not only to historians of this period but to all historians and students of international cultural relations.
In this impressive study, David Rich demonstrates how the modernization of Russia's general staff during the second half of the nineteenth century reshaped its intellectual and strategic outlook and equipped the staff to play a strong, and at times dominant, role in shaping Russian foreign policy.Rich weaves together several levels of narrative to show how the increasingly sophisticated, scientific, and positivistic work attitudes and habits of the general staff acculturated younger officers, redefining their relationship with, and responsibilities to, the state. In time, this new generation of officers projected their characteristic notions onto the state and onto autocracy itself; professional concern for the security of the state eclipsed traditional unquestioning loyalty to the regime. Rich goes on to show how divergence between diplomatic and military aims among those responsible for making strategy cost the state dearly in terms of economic stability and international standing.The author supports his findings with original research in Russian foreign policy and military archives and wide reading in published sources. The Tsar's Colonels contributes to a number of debates in Russian military and social history and offers new insights on the structural roots of the Great War, and on the theoretical problems of modernization and professionalization.
A Financial Times Best History Book of the YearMany people are familiar with American Commodore Matthew Perry’s expedition to open trade relations with Japan in the early 1850s. Less well known is that on the heels of the Perry squadron followed a Russian expedition secretly on the same mission. Serving as secretary to the naval commander was novelist Ivan Goncharov, who turned his impressions into a book, The Frigate Pallada, which became a bestseller in imperial Russia. In A World of Empires, Edyta Bojanowska uses Goncharov’s fascinating travelogue as a window onto global imperial history in the mid-nineteenth century.Reflecting on encounters in southern Africa’s Cape Colony, Dutch Java, Spanish Manila, Japan, and the British ports of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, Goncharov offers keen observations on imperial expansion, cooperation, and competition. Britain’s global ascendancy leaves him in equal measures awed and resentful. In Southeast Asia, he recognizes an increasingly interlocking world in the vibrant trading hubs whose networks encircle the globe. Traveling overland back home, Goncharov presents Russia’s colonizing rule in Siberia as a positive imperial model, contrasted with Western ones.Slow to be integrated into the standard narrative on European imperialism, Russia emerges here as an increasingly assertive empire, eager to position itself on the world stage among its American and European rivals and fully conversant with the ideologies of civilizing mission and race. Goncharov’s gripping narrative offers a unique eyewitness account of empire in action, in which Bojanowska finds both a zeal to emulate European powers and a determination to define Russia against them.
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