All posts tagged Tolstoy

From Herzen to Leskov, and back again

I’ve been re-reading Nikolai Leskov’s Cathedral Clergy (Soboriane) in the excellent recent translation by Margaret Winchell (Slavica, 2010) for a new undergraduate course I’m starting to teach in the Autumn, Identities in nineteenth-century Russian literature. The first part of the course – and in many ways the most interesting for me in terms of preparing […]

Top ten undead in Russian literature

“The dead are people too.” Andrei Platonov, The Foundation Pit Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the influence on nineteenth-century Russian literature of romantic and gothic sensibilities, and of fantastic writers from ETA Hoffmann to Edgar Allan Poe, the notion of the undead plays a significant role for some of the most prominent Russian writers. Encompassing not only […]

Russian thought lecture 9: Nikolai Fedorov and the utopia of the resurrected

Reading: “The Question of Brotherhood or Relatedness, and the Reasons for the Unbrotherly, Dis-Related, or Unpeaceful State of the World, and of the Means for the Restoration of Relatedness” (from Philosophy of the Common Task) So we come to the penultimate lecture for this course, and turn our attention more fully to the question of […]

Russian thought lecture 8: Vladimir Solov’ev: Godmanhood, Sophia, and erotic utopianism

Readings: Solov’ev, “The Meaning of Love” Vladimir Solov’ev (1853-1900) is a very significant figure in the history of Russian thought as well as being a very prominent poet, but in terms of his ideas, he is also a very challenging figure, whose work many people find difficult to understand.The text on which we are going […]

Russian Thought lecture 7: Tolstoy: from Christian love to Christian anarchism

Readings: L. N. Tolstoy, “A Confession” (1879), “The Law of Violence and the Law of Love” (1908), “Postface to The Kreutzer Sonata” (1889) We now move onto Lev Tolstoy (1828-1910) who was not only one of the most important novelists in the nineteenth century, but also one of Russia’s most important thinkers. But while nobody would […]

Russian thought lecture 4: Nihilism and the birth of Russian radicalism: from science to art

Readings: Nikolai Chernyshevsky, extracts from “The Anthropological Principle in Philosophy” (1860); Dmitry Pisarev, “The Realists” (1864) and “The Thinking Proletariat” (1865) We’re now moving away from the debate that arose initially out of Chaadaev’s “First Philosophical Letter” and dominated Russian intellectual life in the 1830s and 1840s. In the next generation a different set of […]

Russian Thought Lecture 1: Petr Chaadaev and the Russian Question

Readings: Petr Chaadaev, “First Philosophical Letter” and “Apologia of a Madman” Before we get on to Chaadaev, the first question we must address is why he acts as the starting point for our exploration of Russian intellectual history. Chaadaev did not invent Russian philosophy; there was already a significant tradition of philosophical and polemical writing […]

Lectures on Russian Thought: Introduction

Over the next two terms I will be publishing fortnightly lectures from my undergraduate course on Russian thought. I’ve been teaching the course for a few years solely as seminars, but am changing it this year to lectures and seminars. I’ve decided to do so because for many of the students this is an entirely […]

Four short links: intergalactic zombie agriculture!

… or Nikolai Fedorovich Fedorov’s Philosophy of the Common Task. One comes across many extraordinary figures and ideas in Russian literature and intellectual history, but Fedorov stands out even in this exalted company. Fedorov’s ‘common task’, to which all human activity should be directed, was achieving immortality for all, including the dead, who would thereby […]

E. H. Carr on women

I’ve been re-reading parts of E. H. Carr’s The Romantic Exiles (1933) in preparation for a couple of forthcoming posts on Alexander Herzen, and it’s left an unpleasant taste that I have to address before I can even get onto Herzen. Clearly I’m far from being the first person to take issue with Carr – Norman […]