A Philosophical History of Russia
A “splendid” (Daily Telegraph) and invaluable introduction to the key Russian thinkers of the past 200 years and an eloquently-narrated journey in the history of ideas.
Includes sections on the key pre-Revolutionary philosophers in Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia: Alexander Herzen, Vissarion Belinsky, Pyotr Chaadaev, Mikhail Bakunin, Nikolai Stankevich & Ivan Turgenev
In this “lucid primer of Russian thought” (Times Literary Supplement), Lesley Chamberlain finds that during the last two centuries Russian intellectuals have asked two fundamental questions: “what makes a good man?” and “what is the right way to live?” The nineteenth-century ideal of a happy man living in a just society became, in Russia, a quest to effect wholesale transformation of society. Chamberlain shows how this moral passion, manifesting itself in philosophy and literature, existed in both pre- and post-revolutionary Russia. She reveals that 1917 did not represent the watershed we once thought, and shows how the dream of a plain and simple life reached its negative apotheosis under Lenin. In Motherland (Overlook/Rookery, July 9, 2007
352 pp, $35.00 [CAN $43.50], 978-1-58567-952-2) Lesley Chamberlain has produced a radical new interpretation of Russian intellectual history that, finally, gives a glimpse in to the soul of that singular country.
“A searching intellectual history of modern Russia . . . Provocative, and sure to inspire learned discussion, if not controversy.”—Kirkus
“Delving fearlessly into her complex and understudied subject, Chamberlain provides a useful synthesis of 200 years of thought by nearly 40 Russian philosophers . . . This useful reference and historical corrective should inspire further study into a neglected but rich intellectual landscape.”—Publishers Weekly
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lesley Chamberlain is a writer and reviewer distinguished for her wide-ranging work from travel (In the Communist Mirror) to philosophy (Nietzsche in Turin and Lenin’s Private War) to fiction. She lives in London.