My Past & Thoughts The Memoirs of Alexander Herzen vol. I-IV [Herzen Alexander][1968]

​[Herzen Alexander; 6 kwietnia 1812 w Moskwie - 21 stycznia 1870 w Paryżu]​ My Past & Thoughts The Memoirs of Alexander Herzen vol. I-IV Translated by C. Garnett Revised by H. Higgens With an Introduction by Isaiah Berlin London 1968, Chatto Windus Str. XLVI, 385, VI, [2], 390-1019, VI, 1023-1514, VI, 1515-1908 [paginacja ciągła] Oprawa płócienna, 24 cm 1 tablica poza tekstem Stan db+. [brak obwolut / nieakt. piecz. bibl. na str. potytułowych i ostatnich, naklejki biblioteczne na tyłach opraw].

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[Herzen Alexander; 6 kwietnia 1812 w Moskwie - 21 stycznia 1870 w Paryżu]

My Past & Thoughts The Memoirs of Alexander Herzen vol. I-IV 

Translated by C. Garnett

Revised by H. Higgens

With an Introduction by Isaiah Berlin

London 1968, Chatto Windus

Str. XLVI, 385, VI, [2], 390-1019, VI, 1023-1514, VI, 1515-1908 [paginacja ciągła]

Oprawa płócienna, 24 cm

1 tablica poza tekstem

Stan db+. [brak obwolut / nieakt. piecz. bibl. na str. potytułowych i ostatnich, naklejki biblioteczne na tyłach opraw].

 

        ALEXANDER HERZEN, like Diderot, was an amateur of genius whose opinions and activities changed the direction of social thought in his country. Like Diderot too, he was a brilliant and irrepressible talker : he talked equally well in Russian and in French to his intimate friends and in the Moscow salons - always in an overwhelming flow of ideas and images; the waste, from the point of view of posterity (just as with Diderot) is probably immense : he had no Boswell and no Eckermann to record his conversation, nor was he a man who would have suffered such a relationship. His prose is essentially a form of talk, with the vices and virtues of talk : eloquent, spontaneous, liable to the heightened tones and exaggerations of the born storyteller, unable to resist long digressions which themselves carry him into a network of intersecting tributaries of memory or speculation, but always returning to the main stream of the story or the argument; but above all, his prose has the vitality of spoken words - it appears to owe nothing to the carefully composed formal sentences of the French philosophes' whom he admired or to the terrible philosophical style of the Germans from whom he learnt; we hear his voice - almost too much-in the essays, the pamphlets, the autobiography, as much as in the letters and scraps of notes to his friends. Civilised, imaginative, selfcritical, Herzen was a marvellously gifted social observer; the record of what he saw is unique even in the articulate nineteenth century. He had an acute, easily stirred and ironical mind, a fiery and poetical temperament, and a capacity for vivid, often lyrical, writing - qualities that combined and reinforced each other in the succession of sharp vignettes of men, events, ideas, personal relationships, political situations and descriptions of entire forms of life in which his writings abound. He was a man of extreme refinement and sensibility, great intellectual energy and biting wit, easily irritated amour propre and a taste for polemical writing; he was addicted to analysis, investigation, exposure; he saw himself as an expert `unmasker' of appearances and conventions, and dramatised himself as a devastating discoverer of their social and moral core. Tolstoy, who had little sympathy with Herzen's opinions, and was not given to excessive praise of his contemporaries among men of letters, especially when they belonged to his own class and country, said towards the end of his life that he had never met anyone with `so rare a combination of scintillating brilliance and depth'. These gifts make a good many of Herzen's essays, political articles, day-to-day journalism, casual notes and reviews, and especially letters written to intimates or to political correspondents, irresistibly readable even today, when the issues with which they were concerned are for the most part dead and of interest mainly to historians. Although much has been written about Herzen - and not only in Russian - the task of his biographers has not been made easier by the fact that he left an incomparable memorial to himself in his own greatest work - translated by Constance Garnett as My Past and Thoughts - a literary masterpiece worthy to be placed by the side of the novels of his contemporaries and countrymen, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky. Nor were they altogether unaware of this. Turgenev, an intimate and lifelong friend (the fluctuations of their personal relationship were important in the life of both; this complex and interesting story has never been adequately told) admired him as a writer as well as a revolutionary journalist. The celebrated critic Vissarion Belinsky discovered, described and acclaimed his extraordinary literary gift when they were both young and relatively unknown. Even the angry and suspicious Dostoyevsky excepted him from the virulent hatred with which he regarded the pro-Western Russian revolutionaries, recognised the poetry of his writing, and remained welldisposed towards him until the end of his life. As for Tolstoy, he delighted both in his society and his writings : half a century after their first meeting in London he still remembered the scene vividly. It is strange that this remarkable writer, in his lifetime a celebrated European figure, the admired friend of Michelet, Mazzini, Garibaldi and Victor Hugo, long canonised in his own country not only as a revolutionary but as one of its greatest men of letters, is, even to-day, not much more than a name in the West. The enjoyment to be obtained from reading his prose - for the most part still untranslated - makes this a strange and gratuitous loss. Alexander Herzen was born in Moscow on the 6th April, 1812, some months before the great fire that destroyed the city during Napoleon's occupation after the battle of Borodino. His father, Ivan Alexandrovich Yakovlev, came of an ancient family distantly related to the Romanov dynasty. Like other rich and wellborn members of the Russian gentry, he had spent some years abroad, and, during one of his journeys, met, and took back to Moscow with him, the daughter of a minor Wurttemberg official, Luiza Haag, a gentle, submissive, somewhat colourless girl, a good deal younger than himself. For some reason, perhaps owing to the disparity in their social positions, he never married her according to the rites of the Church. Yakovlev was a member of the Orthodox Church; she remained a Lutheran.' He was a proud, independent, disdainful man, and had grown increasingly morose and misanthropic. He retired before the war of 1812, and at the time of the French invasion was living in hitter and resentful idleness in his house in Moscow. During the occupation he was recognised by Marshal Mortier, whom he had known in Paris, and agreed in return for a safe conduct enabling him to take his family out of the devastated city-to carry a message from Napoleon to the Emperor Alexander. For this indiscretion he was sent back to his estates and only allowed to return to Moscow somewhat later. In his large and gloomy house on the Arbat he brought up his son, Alexander, to whom he had given the surname I Ierzen, as if to stress the fact that he was the child of an irregular I ison, an affair of the heart. Luiza Haag was never accorded the kill status of a wife, but the boy had every attention lavished upon Iii m. He received the normal education of a young Russian nobleman of his time, that is to say, he was looked after by a host of rses and serfs, and taught by private tutors, German and French, .1refully chosen by his neurotic, irritable, devoted, suspicious father. I ;very care was taken to develop his gifts. [...]

[Part of the introduction / Isaiah Berlin]

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