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July 31 , 2007

Motherland: A Philosophical History of Russia


In this “searching intellectual history of modern Russia” (Kirkus), 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?”

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In their attempts to answer these questions, these thinkers neglected the role of the individual, prioritizing instead the need to end injustice and autocracy. It was not until the eve of the revolution of 1917 that Russian philosophers came to grips with individualism, only to have this endeavor fragmented and forced underground by the totalitarian century that followed. In Motherland, which includes sections on key pre-Revolutionary philosophers Alexander Herzen, Vissarion Belinsky, Pyotr Chaadaev, Mikhail Bakunin, Nikolai Stankevich, and Ivan Turgenev, Lesley Chamberlain has produced a radical new interpretation of Russian intellectual history that gives a glimpse into the soul of that singular country.

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