Week 11

Week 11: Wednesday, January 5, 2022
Catherine the Great

Week 11

Catherine the Great will very likely be the most fascinating, brilliant, fun, sexy person that we will meet during our entire year of Russian history. She is a bit like Frederick the Great (her contemporary) in the Prussian story. The stories of her boyfriends is a whole course in itself. Listen to just a few words from Paul Bushkovitch about her reading and her general knowledge. She worked constantly to improve her mind.

"Catherine’s reading not only gave her a series of ideas about justice and administration but also about economic development and social status. The Enlightenment writers believed that society required a civilized population to flourish, and that came from education and culture. The new empress came to the throne at a propitious time, for the efforts of the Cadet Corps, the Academy, and Moscow University were beginning to show results. The generation that came to maturity with Catherine was the first to have absorbed European culture in full, and the first to include many men and even women who had also been abroad long enough to begin to understand European society. Catherine was determined to speed this process along. Though by birth and culture she was German, for most of her reign she was at the center of Russian culture, unlike any monarch after her and more so than even Peter himself. She was not merely a reader, but an active participant in Europe’s cultural life. She corresponded with Voltaire from 1763 until his death in 1778. She also had correspondents among the French Encyclopedists, Denis Diderot, and Jean d’Alembert, as well as the German Baron Friedrich Melchior Grimm. Grimm was a sort of literary journalist reporting from Paris, and after a visit to St. Petersburg in 1773–74 he was Catherine’s chief correspondent and epistolary confidant until her death. Catherine did not merely correspond with the great men of the Enlightenment. When she heard of Diderot’s financial problems she bought his library, granted him the use of it for life and paid him a salary as her librarian." Bushkovitch, Paul. A Concise History of Russia (Cambridge Concise Histories) (p. 125). Cambridge University Press.

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

RECOMMENDED READING

Robert Massie,

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman,

Random House Trade Paperbacks,

ISBN 0345408772

12

Week 12: Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Tsar Paul I

Week 12

Paul I (1754-1801) (Tsar 1796-1801) was Emperor of Russia from 1796 until his assassination. Officially, he was the only son of Peter III and Catherine the Great, although Catherine hinted that he was fathered by her lover Sergei Saltykov. Paul remained overshadowed by his mother for most of his life. He adopted the laws of succession to the Russian throne—rules that lasted until the end of the Romanov dynasty and of the Russian Empire. He also intervened in the French Revolutionary Wars and, toward the end of his reign, added Kartli and Kakheti in Eastern Georgia into the empire, which was confirmed by his son and successor Alexander I. Paul had a short sad life. His mother Catherine the Great did not want to yield any real power to her son, therefore she maneuvered constantly to denegrate his abilities. Paul was not a strong decisive person, and therefore he was way overmatched by his dynamic powerful mother. Only when she was gone in 1796 after a sudden stroke, did Paul step forward and rule as true Tsar of Russia. Sadly for him and his family, he only had five years on the throne before an assassin struck him down.

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

13

Week 13: Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Tsar Alexander I

Week 13


Alexander I (born:1777; died:1825, Emperor 1801-1825) was the Emperor of Russia from 1801, the first King of Congress Poland from 1815, and the Grand Duke of Finland from 1809 to his death. He was the eldest son of Emperor Paul I and Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg. Born in Saint Petersburg to Grand Duke Paul Petrovich, later Paul I, Alexander succeeded to the throne after his father was murdered. He ruled Russia during the chaotic period of the Napoleonic Wars. As prince and during the early years of his reign, Alexander often used liberal rhetoric, but continued Russia's absolutist policies in practice. In the first years of his reign, he initiated some minor social reforms and (in 1803–04) major liberal educational reforms, such as building more universities. Alexander appointed Mikhail Speransky, the son of a village priest, as one of his closest advisors. The Collegia was abolished and replaced by the State Council, which was created to improve legislation. Plans were also made to set up a parliament and sign a constitution.

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

14

Week 14: Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Napoleon in Russia

Week 14

 

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

15

Week 15: Wednesday, February 2, 2022
Conference of Vienna 1815

Week 15

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

RECOMMENDED READING

David King,

Vienna, 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna,

Broadway; Reprint edition (March 24, 2009),

ISBN 0312372973

From Publishers Weekly

Leaders from the world's five major diplomatic forces - Great Britain, France, Austria, Prussia and Russia - convened in Vienna in 1814 to found a new order for post-Napoleonic Europe. Historian King (Finding Atlantis) calls it the greatest and most lavish party in history, at which delegates would plot, scheme, jockey for position, and, in short, infuriate each other as they competed in affairs of state and the heart. King covers the diplomatic wrangling well, particularly over the fates of Poland, Saxony and the Kingdom of Naples. His greater strength is in depicting the personalities and motivations of the key players, such as Metternich's daring love affair with a baroness and Czar Alexander I's growing reliance on a German mystic. Despite endless parties, the Congress achieved pioneering work in culture and human rights, including Jewish rights and a vote to abolish slavery. Most important, it established alliances that defeated Napoleon's attempt to regain power in 1815 and helped foster a spirit of cooperation that, in some ways, has still not been surpassed. King's fine work is not quite as scholarly as the book it recalls, Margaret Macmillan's Paris 1919, but it is more deftly paced and engagingly written. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Mar.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"King reveals his talent for narrative flow and portraiture in a biography that will thoroughly inveigle history readers." - Booklist

"A teeming…personality-rich panorama of the first truly international peace conference." - Kirkus Reviews

"A fascinating tale that shines light on a unique aspect of the relationship between scholarship and nationalism." - Choice

 

 

 

 

 

 

16

Week 16: Wednesday, February 9, 2022
Westernizers Versus Slavophiles

Week 16

The 1st quarter of the 19th century is the time when Russian literature becomes an independent and very striking phenomenon; this is the time when the very laws of the Russian literary language are formed. The reasons for such a rapid development of Russian literature during this period lie both in the intra-literary processes and in the socio-political life of Russian society. As Western Europe modernized, after 1840 the issue for Russia became one of direction. Westernizers favored imitating Western Europe while others renounced the West and called for a return of the traditions of the past. The latter path was championed by Slavophiles, who heaped scorn on the "decadent" West. The Slavophiles were opponents of bureaucracy and preferred the collectivism of the medieval Russian mir, or village community, to the individualism of the West. Westernizers formed an intellectual movement that deplored the backwardness of Russian culture, and looked to western Europe for intellectual leadership. They were opposed by Slavophiles who denounced the West as too materialistic and instead promoted the spiritual depth of Russian traditionalism. A forerunner of the movement was Pyotr Chaadayev (1794–1856). He exposed the cultural isolation of Russia, from the perspective of Western Europe, in his Philosophical Letters of 1831. He cast doubt on the greatness of the Russian past, and ridiculed Orthodoxy for failing to provide a sound spiritual basis for the Russian mind. He called on Russia to emulate Western Europe, especially in rational and logical thought, its progressive spirit, its leadership in science, and indeed its leadership on the path to freedom. Vissarion Belinsky (1811–1848),[122] and Alexander Herzen (1812–1870) were prominent Westernizers. (Wikipedia)

RECOMMENDED READING

Steven Marks,

How Russia Shaped the Modern World: From Art to Anti-Semitism, Ballet to Bolshevism,

Princeton University Press,

ISBN 0691118450

17

Week 17: Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Tsar Nicholas I

Week 17

Nicholas I (born: 1796, died: 1855, Tsar 1825-1855) reigned as Emperor of Russia, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland from 1825 until 1855. He was the third son of Paul Iand younger brother of his predecessor, Alexander I. Nicholas inherited his brother's throne despite the failed Decembrist revolt against him. He is mainly remembered in history as a reactionary whose controversial reign was marked by geographical expansion, economic growth and massive industrialisation on the one hand, and centralisation of administrative policies and repression of dissent on the other. Nicholas had a happy marriage that produced a large family; all of their seven children survived childhood. Nicholas' biographer Nicholas V. Riasanovsky said that he displayed determination, singleness of purpose, and an iron will, along with a powerful sense of duty and a dedication to very hard work. He saw himself as a soldier—a junior officer totally consumed by spit and polish. A handsome man, he was highly nervous and aggressive. Trained as an engineer, he was a stickler for minute detail. In his public persona, stated Riasanovsky, "Nicholas I came to represent autocracy personified: infinitely majestic, determined and powerful, hard as stone, and relentless as fate."

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

18

Week 18: Wednesday, February 23, 2022
Tsar Alexander II

Week 18

Alexander II (born: April 29, 1818; died March 13. 1881, Tsar 1855-1881) was the Emperor of Russia, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland from 2 March 1855 until his assassination. Alexander's most significant reform as emperor was emancipation of Russia's serfs in 1861, for which he is known as Alexander the Liberator. The tsar was responsible for other reforms, including reorganizing the judicial system, setting up elected local judges, abolishing corporal punishment, promoting local self-government through the zemstvo system, imposing universal military service, ending some privileges of the nobility, and promoting university education. After an assassination attempt in 1866, Alexander adopted a somewhat more reactionary stance until his death. The photo at left is taken when Tsar Alexander was in his 60s.

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

RECOMMENDED READING

Hugh Small,

The Crimean War: Queen Victoria's War with the Russian Tsars,

Tempus Publishing, Limited (March 1, 2014),

ISBN 0752443887

19

Week 19: Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Tsar Nicholas II

Week 19

Nicholas II (born 1868, died July 17, 1918. Tsar, 1894-1917), known in the Russian Orthodox Church as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer, was the last Emperor of All Russia, ruling from 1 November 1894 until his abdication on 15 March 1917. During his reign, Nicholas gave support to the economic and political reforms promoted by his prime ministers, Sergei Witte and Pyotr Stolypin. He advocated modernization based on foreign loans and close ties with France, but resisted giving the new parliament (the Duma) major roles. Ultimately, progress was undermined by Nicholas's commitment to autocratic rule, strong aristocratic opposition and defeats sustained by the Russian military in the Russo-Japanese War and World War I. By March 1917, public support for Nicholas had collapsed and he was forced to abdicate the throne, thereby ending the Romanov dynasty's 300-year rule of Russia.After abdicating for himself and his son, Nicholas and his family were imprisoned by the Russian Provisional Government and exiled to Siberia. After the Bolsheviks took power in the October Revolution, the family was held in Yekaterinburg, where they were executed in July 1918. (Wikipedia)

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

20

Week 20: Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Fyodor Dostoevsky

Week 20

LIFE OF FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY 1821-1881

On October 30, 1821 Fyodor Dostoevsky was born in Moscow to Mikhail Andreyevich, a surgeon, and Maria Fyodorovna. Dostoevsky's father was a doctor on the staff of Moscow's Hospital of St. Mary. Mikhail was a very cold, demanding and stern man. Dostoevsky's mother was a gentle saint who was totally subservient to her difficult husband, but gave the children her total devotion and left to them an image of Christian generosity.
1821-1837
Family life for the huge Dostoevsky family was very difficult. All nine members of the surgeon's family lived in 3 cramped rooms within the hospital complex. But even in this limited physical environment the doctor maintained an upper class set of values with very demanding educational goals set for the children. Doctor Dostoevsky taught the children many of their lessons himself. The family lived an intensely intimate life together with outsiders excluded. Thus Fyodor was extremely attached to his brother Mikhail but very uncomfortable with strangers. The family had no outside life. They lived together, ate together, studied together. It seems that this was the way the doctor wanted it. He was extremely tyrannical and wanted to dominate every single minute of his little private unit. The children had no outside friends. They never went out. They never did anything apart from the family. On the other hand, with such a huge family there was a lot of fun and good times and Dostoevsky remembered his family life as an almost idyllic happy time. Other family members contradicted this image pointing to the tyrannical rule of Doctor Dostoevsky.
1837
In Fyodor's sixteenth year his beloved mother died. At age sixteen Fyodor had to adjust to a total transformation of his life. With his mother gone, his father quit his practice at the hospital, gave up his quarters, moved to the country and sent the children off to various locations. Thus for the children it was a traumatic moment: they lost their mother and then their home and then their whole family structure all at once. The two older sons, Mikhail and Fyodor, were sent to Military school of engineering in St. Petersburg.
1838
Fyodor was miserable, poor, alone, but studied and did well. He read incessantly and discovered his life's purpose: "My soul is now inaccessible to the raging squalls that used to shake it. In it, all is peace as in the heart of a man who harbors a deep secret. To study the meaning of man and of life – I am making sufficient progress here. I have faith in myself. Man is a mystery. One must solve it. If you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out, then do not say you have wasted your time. I occupy myself with this mystery because I want to be a man." This from an 18 year old boy.(1839)
1839
With his wife dead, Doctor Dostoevsky now placed the younger children with an aunt and retired to a small country house he owned. As an overlord of the property he was absolutely impossible. He was cruel with his serfs and in retaliation they murdered him. Fyodor was extremely shocked and affected for his whole life by this event. He could not speak of it and never mentioned it to anyone ever again. But the event reverberated in his life and work and certainly inspired the character of Fyodor Karamazov. At his father's death, Fyodor inherited a small amount of money. He quit the military academy.
1840 The Gambler
He started to live a wild and profligate life: gambling became his passion, especially billiards for money.
1846 The Author
Dostoevsky had written Poor Folk now friends intervened and got it into the hands of a publisher. Like Byron, Dostoevsky a had huge youthful success: He is published to great acclaim at age 25.
1849 (April) Arrest
Dostoevsky was arrested as a member of radical socialist Petrashevsky circle.
December: mock execution.
Messenger arrives with commutation of sentence from the Czar.
Dostoevsky is sent off to four years penal servitude in Siberia.
1849-1853 Imprisonment
Horrible imprisonment (described in Notes from the House of the Dead).
"And I consider those four years as a time in which I was buried alive and closed in a coffin. How horrible that time was I have not the strength to tell you, dear friend. It was unspeakable, interminable suffering because every hour, every minute weighed upon my soul like a stone." (Mochulsky, p. 147) Has only the New Testament to read. He reads it incessantly. Undergoes conversion. Gives up his radical socialist ideas. Becomes convinced Christian (Russian Mother Church).
The Church
"Before all things, humble yourself, consider what your past life has been, consider what you may be able to effect in the future, consider how great a mass of meanness and pettiness and turpitude lies lurking at the bottom of your soul."
1853-1857
Dostoevsky is now sent to Siberia to complete his sentence serving as a private in the Russian army. "I do not complain. This is my cross and I have deserved it."
1857 Maria
Dostoevsky meets the already married Maria, begins affair.
Her husband dies and Dostoevsky proposes marriage.
Marries Maria Demetrievna.
1859 Married
Friends get his sentence reduced and allow him to return to St. Petersburg.
Settles down with wife and stepson. Starts journal Time with brother Michael. Publishes own works in journal.
1863 The Magazine
His magazineTime was suppressed by authorities
1864 Death of Maria
On April 15, 1864, his wife Maria Dmitrievna died after an excruciatingly painful illness suffering with tuberculosis. Dostoevsky recorded the moment: "Just now, at 7 o'clock in the evening, Maria Dmitrievna passed away, and wished you all a long and happy life (her words). Remember her with a kind word. She suffered so much during this time, that I don't know who could refuse to be reconciled with her."(Mochulsky, p. 260).
1866 Anna
Dostoevsky pressed with debts and with a publishing contract requiring a book by a certain date, hired a twenty-year old young woman named Anna Grigorievna to be his stenographer, In one month he dictated the whole of the novel The Gambler. Anna remained his faithful partner in family and work for the rest of his life and brought order into his writing and his publishing.
1867 Second Marriage
On Feb. 15, Dostoevsky marries Anna Grigorievna.
He is twenty-five years older than Anna.1860-1881Dostoevsky writes his greatest works.
1864Notes from the Underground
1866Crime and Punishment
1868The 1872 Idiot
1872The Devils(or The Possessed)
1875A Raw Youth
1878
Dostoevsky begins work on The Brothers Karamazov.
Death of Alyosha
Work on the novel is interrupted by tragedy in the Dostoevsky family. Little three-year-old Alyosha, his father's favorite son, dies suddenly of an epileptic seizure. Anna tells us about the event: "Fyodor went to bring the doctor, returned terribly pale, and knelt down by the sofa to which we had moved the tot so it would be more convenient for the doctor to examine him. I also knelt down next to my husband; I wanted to ask him what precisely the doctor had said (As I found out later, he had told Fyodor that the final agony had already begun); he motioned me with a sign not to speak. . . And what was my despair when suddenly the baby's breathing stopped and death came. Fyodor kissed the child, blessed him three times, and began to sob. I also wept." (Mochulsky, p. 571-72.) Thus the character of Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov is born in the instant of the death of Dostoevsky's own most beloved son. He thus endows his Alyosha in the book with all the love he had for his own son.
1880Brothers Karamazov
1881 Death of Dostoevsky
Dostoevsky dies. At his death he had achieved extraordinary fame and success. His funeral was an occasion for one of the most remarkable demonstrations of public feeling ever witnessed in the Russian capital.

Quotations in the above are taken from Konstantin Mochulsky, Dostoevsky, His Life and Work (Princeton University Press, 1967).

RECOMMENDED READING

Joseph Frank,

Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time,

Princeton University Press,

ISBN 0691155992

Institute Library Call Number: 891.73 Fra DOST

Steven Marks,

How Russia Shaped the Modern World: From Art to Anti-Semitism, Ballet to Bolshevism,

Princeton University Press,

ISBN 0691118450

All

Week 11: Wed., Jan. 5, 2022
Catherine the Great

Week 11

Catherine the Great will very likely be the most fascinating, brilliant, fun, sexy person that we will meet during our entire year of Russian history. She is a bit like Frederick the Great (her contemporary) in the Prussian story. The stories of her boyfriends is a whole course in itself. Listen to just a few words from Paul Bushkovitch about her reading and her general knowledge. She worked constantly to improve her mind.

"Catherine’s reading not only gave her a series of ideas about justice and administration but also about economic development and social status. The Enlightenment writers believed that society required a civilized population to flourish, and that came from education and culture. The new empress came to the throne at a propitious time, for the efforts of the Cadet Corps, the Academy, and Moscow University were beginning to show results. The generation that came to maturity with Catherine was the first to have absorbed European culture in full, and the first to include many men and even women who had also been abroad long enough to begin to understand European society. Catherine was determined to speed this process along. Though by birth and culture she was German, for most of her reign she was at the center of Russian culture, unlike any monarch after her and more so than even Peter himself. She was not merely a reader, but an active participant in Europe’s cultural life. She corresponded with Voltaire from 1763 until his death in 1778. She also had correspondents among the French Encyclopedists, Denis Diderot, and Jean d’Alembert, as well as the German Baron Friedrich Melchior Grimm. Grimm was a sort of literary journalist reporting from Paris, and after a visit to St. Petersburg in 1773–74 he was Catherine’s chief correspondent and epistolary confidant until her death. Catherine did not merely correspond with the great men of the Enlightenment. When she heard of Diderot’s financial problems she bought his library, granted him the use of it for life and paid him a salary as her librarian." Bushkovitch, Paul. A Concise History of Russia (Cambridge Concise Histories) (p. 125). Cambridge University Press.

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

RECOMMENDED READING

Robert Massie,

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman,

Random House Trade Paperbacks,

ISBN 0345408772

Week 12: Wed., Jan. 12, 2022
Tsar Paul I

Week 12

Paul I (1754-1801) (Tsar 1796-1801) was Emperor of Russia from 1796 until his assassination. Officially, he was the only son of Peter III and Catherine the Great, although Catherine hinted that he was fathered by her lover Sergei Saltykov. Paul remained overshadowed by his mother for most of his life. He adopted the laws of succession to the Russian throne—rules that lasted until the end of the Romanov dynasty and of the Russian Empire. He also intervened in the French Revolutionary Wars and, toward the end of his reign, added Kartli and Kakheti in Eastern Georgia into the empire, which was confirmed by his son and successor Alexander I. Paul had a short sad life. His mother Catherine the Great did not want to yield any real power to her son, therefore she maneuvered constantly to denegrate his abilities. Paul was not a strong decisive person, and therefore he was way overmatched by his dynamic powerful mother. Only when she was gone in 1796 after a sudden stroke, did Paul step forward and rule as true Tsar of Russia. Sadly for him and his family, he only had five years on the throne before an assassin struck him down.

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

Week 13: Wed., Jan. 19, 2022
Tsar Alexander I

Week 13


Alexander I (born:1777; died:1825, Emperor 1801-1825) was the Emperor of Russia from 1801, the first King of Congress Poland from 1815, and the Grand Duke of Finland from 1809 to his death. He was the eldest son of Emperor Paul I and Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg. Born in Saint Petersburg to Grand Duke Paul Petrovich, later Paul I, Alexander succeeded to the throne after his father was murdered. He ruled Russia during the chaotic period of the Napoleonic Wars. As prince and during the early years of his reign, Alexander often used liberal rhetoric, but continued Russia's absolutist policies in practice. In the first years of his reign, he initiated some minor social reforms and (in 1803–04) major liberal educational reforms, such as building more universities. Alexander appointed Mikhail Speransky, the son of a village priest, as one of his closest advisors. The Collegia was abolished and replaced by the State Council, which was created to improve legislation. Plans were also made to set up a parliament and sign a constitution.

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

Week 14: Wed., Jan. 26, 2022
Napoleon in Russia

Week 14

 

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

Week 15: Wed., Feb. 2, 2022
Conference of Vienna 1815

Week 15

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

RECOMMENDED READING

David King,

Vienna, 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna,

Broadway; Reprint edition (March 24, 2009),

ISBN 0312372973

From Publishers Weekly

Leaders from the world's five major diplomatic forces - Great Britain, France, Austria, Prussia and Russia - convened in Vienna in 1814 to found a new order for post-Napoleonic Europe. Historian King (Finding Atlantis) calls it the greatest and most lavish party in history, at which delegates would plot, scheme, jockey for position, and, in short, infuriate each other as they competed in affairs of state and the heart. King covers the diplomatic wrangling well, particularly over the fates of Poland, Saxony and the Kingdom of Naples. His greater strength is in depicting the personalities and motivations of the key players, such as Metternich's daring love affair with a baroness and Czar Alexander I's growing reliance on a German mystic. Despite endless parties, the Congress achieved pioneering work in culture and human rights, including Jewish rights and a vote to abolish slavery. Most important, it established alliances that defeated Napoleon's attempt to regain power in 1815 and helped foster a spirit of cooperation that, in some ways, has still not been surpassed. King's fine work is not quite as scholarly as the book it recalls, Margaret Macmillan's Paris 1919, but it is more deftly paced and engagingly written. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Mar.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"King reveals his talent for narrative flow and portraiture in a biography that will thoroughly inveigle history readers." - Booklist

"A teeming…personality-rich panorama of the first truly international peace conference." - Kirkus Reviews

"A fascinating tale that shines light on a unique aspect of the relationship between scholarship and nationalism." - Choice

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 16: Wed., Feb. 9, 2022
Westernizers Versus Slavophiles

Week 16

The 1st quarter of the 19th century is the time when Russian literature becomes an independent and very striking phenomenon; this is the time when the very laws of the Russian literary language are formed. The reasons for such a rapid development of Russian literature during this period lie both in the intra-literary processes and in the socio-political life of Russian society. As Western Europe modernized, after 1840 the issue for Russia became one of direction. Westernizers favored imitating Western Europe while others renounced the West and called for a return of the traditions of the past. The latter path was championed by Slavophiles, who heaped scorn on the "decadent" West. The Slavophiles were opponents of bureaucracy and preferred the collectivism of the medieval Russian mir, or village community, to the individualism of the West. Westernizers formed an intellectual movement that deplored the backwardness of Russian culture, and looked to western Europe for intellectual leadership. They were opposed by Slavophiles who denounced the West as too materialistic and instead promoted the spiritual depth of Russian traditionalism. A forerunner of the movement was Pyotr Chaadayev (1794–1856). He exposed the cultural isolation of Russia, from the perspective of Western Europe, in his Philosophical Letters of 1831. He cast doubt on the greatness of the Russian past, and ridiculed Orthodoxy for failing to provide a sound spiritual basis for the Russian mind. He called on Russia to emulate Western Europe, especially in rational and logical thought, its progressive spirit, its leadership in science, and indeed its leadership on the path to freedom. Vissarion Belinsky (1811–1848),[122] and Alexander Herzen (1812–1870) were prominent Westernizers. (Wikipedia)

RECOMMENDED READING

Steven Marks,

How Russia Shaped the Modern World: From Art to Anti-Semitism, Ballet to Bolshevism,

Princeton University Press,

ISBN 0691118450

Week 17: Wed., Feb. 16, 2022
Tsar Nicholas I

Week 17

Nicholas I (born: 1796, died: 1855, Tsar 1825-1855) reigned as Emperor of Russia, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland from 1825 until 1855. He was the third son of Paul Iand younger brother of his predecessor, Alexander I. Nicholas inherited his brother's throne despite the failed Decembrist revolt against him. He is mainly remembered in history as a reactionary whose controversial reign was marked by geographical expansion, economic growth and massive industrialisation on the one hand, and centralisation of administrative policies and repression of dissent on the other. Nicholas had a happy marriage that produced a large family; all of their seven children survived childhood. Nicholas' biographer Nicholas V. Riasanovsky said that he displayed determination, singleness of purpose, and an iron will, along with a powerful sense of duty and a dedication to very hard work. He saw himself as a soldier—a junior officer totally consumed by spit and polish. A handsome man, he was highly nervous and aggressive. Trained as an engineer, he was a stickler for minute detail. In his public persona, stated Riasanovsky, "Nicholas I came to represent autocracy personified: infinitely majestic, determined and powerful, hard as stone, and relentless as fate."

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

Week 18: Wed., Feb. 23, 2022
Tsar Alexander II

Week 18

Alexander II (born: April 29, 1818; died March 13. 1881, Tsar 1855-1881) was the Emperor of Russia, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland from 2 March 1855 until his assassination. Alexander's most significant reform as emperor was emancipation of Russia's serfs in 1861, for which he is known as Alexander the Liberator. The tsar was responsible for other reforms, including reorganizing the judicial system, setting up elected local judges, abolishing corporal punishment, promoting local self-government through the zemstvo system, imposing universal military service, ending some privileges of the nobility, and promoting university education. After an assassination attempt in 1866, Alexander adopted a somewhat more reactionary stance until his death. The photo at left is taken when Tsar Alexander was in his 60s.

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

RECOMMENDED READING

Hugh Small,

The Crimean War: Queen Victoria's War with the Russian Tsars,

Tempus Publishing, Limited (March 1, 2014),

ISBN 0752443887

Week 19: Wed., Mar. 2, 2022
Tsar Nicholas II

Week 19

Nicholas II (born 1868, died July 17, 1918. Tsar, 1894-1917), known in the Russian Orthodox Church as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer, was the last Emperor of All Russia, ruling from 1 November 1894 until his abdication on 15 March 1917. During his reign, Nicholas gave support to the economic and political reforms promoted by his prime ministers, Sergei Witte and Pyotr Stolypin. He advocated modernization based on foreign loans and close ties with France, but resisted giving the new parliament (the Duma) major roles. Ultimately, progress was undermined by Nicholas's commitment to autocratic rule, strong aristocratic opposition and defeats sustained by the Russian military in the Russo-Japanese War and World War I. By March 1917, public support for Nicholas had collapsed and he was forced to abdicate the throne, thereby ending the Romanov dynasty's 300-year rule of Russia.After abdicating for himself and his son, Nicholas and his family were imprisoned by the Russian Provisional Government and exiled to Siberia. After the Bolsheviks took power in the October Revolution, the family was held in Yekaterinburg, where they were executed in July 1918. (Wikipedia)

REQUIRED READING

Paul Bushkovitch,

A Concise History of Russia,

Cambridge University Press,

ISBN 0521543231

Week 20: Wed., Mar. 9, 2022
Fyodor Dostoevsky

Week 20

LIFE OF FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY 1821-1881

On October 30, 1821 Fyodor Dostoevsky was born in Moscow to Mikhail Andreyevich, a surgeon, and Maria Fyodorovna. Dostoevsky's father was a doctor on the staff of Moscow's Hospital of St. Mary. Mikhail was a very cold, demanding and stern man. Dostoevsky's mother was a gentle saint who was totally subservient to her difficult husband, but gave the children her total devotion and left to them an image of Christian generosity.
1821-1837
Family life for the huge Dostoevsky family was very difficult. All nine members of the surgeon's family lived in 3 cramped rooms within the hospital complex. But even in this limited physical environment the doctor maintained an upper class set of values with very demanding educational goals set for the children. Doctor Dostoevsky taught the children many of their lessons himself. The family lived an intensely intimate life together with outsiders excluded. Thus Fyodor was extremely attached to his brother Mikhail but very uncomfortable with strangers. The family had no outside life. They lived together, ate together, studied together. It seems that this was the way the doctor wanted it. He was extremely tyrannical and wanted to dominate every single minute of his little private unit. The children had no outside friends. They never went out. They never did anything apart from the family. On the other hand, with such a huge family there was a lot of fun and good times and Dostoevsky remembered his family life as an almost idyllic happy time. Other family members contradicted this image pointing to the tyrannical rule of Doctor Dostoevsky.
1837
In Fyodor's sixteenth year his beloved mother died. At age sixteen Fyodor had to adjust to a total transformation of his life. With his mother gone, his father quit his practice at the hospital, gave up his quarters, moved to the country and sent the children off to various locations. Thus for the children it was a traumatic moment: they lost their mother and then their home and then their whole family structure all at once. The two older sons, Mikhail and Fyodor, were sent to Military school of engineering in St. Petersburg.
1838
Fyodor was miserable, poor, alone, but studied and did well. He read incessantly and discovered his life's purpose: "My soul is now inaccessible to the raging squalls that used to shake it. In it, all is peace as in the heart of a man who harbors a deep secret. To study the meaning of man and of life – I am making sufficient progress here. I have faith in myself. Man is a mystery. One must solve it. If you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out, then do not say you have wasted your time. I occupy myself with this mystery because I want to be a man." This from an 18 year old boy.(1839)
1839
With his wife dead, Doctor Dostoevsky now placed the younger children with an aunt and retired to a small country house he owned. As an overlord of the property he was absolutely impossible. He was cruel with his serfs and in retaliation they murdered him. Fyodor was extremely shocked and affected for his whole life by this event. He could not speak of it and never mentioned it to anyone ever again. But the event reverberated in his life and work and certainly inspired the character of Fyodor Karamazov. At his father's death, Fyodor inherited a small amount of money. He quit the military academy.
1840 The Gambler
He started to live a wild and profligate life: gambling became his passion, especially billiards for money.
1846 The Author
Dostoevsky had written Poor Folk now friends intervened and got it into the hands of a publisher. Like Byron, Dostoevsky a had huge youthful success: He is published to great acclaim at age 25.
1849 (April) Arrest
Dostoevsky was arrested as a member of radical socialist Petrashevsky circle.
December: mock execution.
Messenger arrives with commutation of sentence from the Czar.
Dostoevsky is sent off to four years penal servitude in Siberia.
1849-1853 Imprisonment
Horrible imprisonment (described in Notes from the House of the Dead).
"And I consider those four years as a time in which I was buried alive and closed in a coffin. How horrible that time was I have not the strength to tell you, dear friend. It was unspeakable, interminable suffering because every hour, every minute weighed upon my soul like a stone." (Mochulsky, p. 147) Has only the New Testament to read. He reads it incessantly. Undergoes conversion. Gives up his radical socialist ideas. Becomes convinced Christian (Russian Mother Church).
The Church
"Before all things, humble yourself, consider what your past life has been, consider what you may be able to effect in the future, consider how great a mass of meanness and pettiness and turpitude lies lurking at the bottom of your soul."
1853-1857
Dostoevsky is now sent to Siberia to complete his sentence serving as a private in the Russian army. "I do not complain. This is my cross and I have deserved it."
1857 Maria
Dostoevsky meets the already married Maria, begins affair.
Her husband dies and Dostoevsky proposes marriage.
Marries Maria Demetrievna.
1859 Married
Friends get his sentence reduced and allow him to return to St. Petersburg.
Settles down with wife and stepson. Starts journal Time with brother Michael. Publishes own works in journal.
1863 The Magazine
His magazineTime was suppressed by authorities
1864 Death of Maria
On April 15, 1864, his wife Maria Dmitrievna died after an excruciatingly painful illness suffering with tuberculosis. Dostoevsky recorded the moment: "Just now, at 7 o'clock in the evening, Maria Dmitrievna passed away, and wished you all a long and happy life (her words). Remember her with a kind word. She suffered so much during this time, that I don't know who could refuse to be reconciled with her."(Mochulsky, p. 260).
1866 Anna
Dostoevsky pressed with debts and with a publishing contract requiring a book by a certain date, hired a twenty-year old young woman named Anna Grigorievna to be his stenographer, In one month he dictated the whole of the novel The Gambler. Anna remained his faithful partner in family and work for the rest of his life and brought order into his writing and his publishing.
1867 Second Marriage
On Feb. 15, Dostoevsky marries Anna Grigorievna.
He is twenty-five years older than Anna.1860-1881Dostoevsky writes his greatest works.
1864Notes from the Underground
1866Crime and Punishment
1868The 1872 Idiot
1872The Devils(or The Possessed)
1875A Raw Youth
1878
Dostoevsky begins work on The Brothers Karamazov.
Death of Alyosha
Work on the novel is interrupted by tragedy in the Dostoevsky family. Little three-year-old Alyosha, his father's favorite son, dies suddenly of an epileptic seizure. Anna tells us about the event: "Fyodor went to bring the doctor, returned terribly pale, and knelt down by the sofa to which we had moved the tot so it would be more convenient for the doctor to examine him. I also knelt down next to my husband; I wanted to ask him what precisely the doctor had said (As I found out later, he had told Fyodor that the final agony had already begun); he motioned me with a sign not to speak. . . And what was my despair when suddenly the baby's breathing stopped and death came. Fyodor kissed the child, blessed him three times, and began to sob. I also wept." (Mochulsky, p. 571-72.) Thus the character of Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov is born in the instant of the death of Dostoevsky's own most beloved son. He thus endows his Alyosha in the book with all the love he had for his own son.
1880Brothers Karamazov
1881 Death of Dostoevsky
Dostoevsky dies. At his death he had achieved extraordinary fame and success. His funeral was an occasion for one of the most remarkable demonstrations of public feeling ever witnessed in the Russian capital.

Quotations in the above are taken from Konstantin Mochulsky, Dostoevsky, His Life and Work (Princeton University Press, 1967).

RECOMMENDED READING

Joseph Frank,

Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time,

Princeton University Press,

ISBN 0691155992

Institute Library Call Number: 891.73 Fra DOST

Steven Marks,

How Russia Shaped the Modern World: From Art to Anti-Semitism, Ballet to Bolshevism,

Princeton University Press,

ISBN 0691118450