Aleksandr Ivanovich Herzen Criticism - Essay

P. V. Annenkov (essay date 1880)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Chapter XVII," in The Extraordinary Decade: Literary Memoirs, by P. V. Annenkov, edited by Arthur P. Mendel, translated by Irwin R. Titunik, University of Michigan Press, 1968, pp. 86-91.

[Annenkov, a Russian of aristocratic background, was a member of the same intellectual circles as Herzen, and he later proved to be a faithful recorder of his colleagues' thoughts and manners. In the following excerpt, Annenkov sketches Herzen 's multifaceted character.]

In the early days of my acquaintance with [Herzen], I must admit, I was stunned and nonplussed by that extraordinarily mobile intellect which ranged from one subject to another with inexhaustible wit,...

(The entire section is 1689 words.)

Isaiah Berlin (essay date 1968)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Introduction to My Past and Thoughts: The Memoirs of Alexander Herzen, translated by Constance Garnett, revised by Humphrey Higgens, introduction by Isaiah Berlin, University of California Press, 1982, pp. xix-xliii.

[Berlin is a noted twentieth-century critic of Russian literature. The essay that followswritten in 1968presents an overview of Herzen 's biography, personality, and political commitment. Berlin stresses in particular Herzen 's talents as a writer and an intellectual.]

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,...

(The entire section is 10911 words.)

Edward Acton (essay date 1979)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Introduction to Alexander Herzen and the Role of the Intellectual Revolutionary, Cambridge University Press, 1979, pp. 1-24.

[Acton portrays Herzen 's life as the negotiation of his philosophical, activist, and private selves. In the essay that follows, Acton focuses specifically on how these three aspects interacted to position Herzen in Russian society before his emigration in 1847.]

In 1847 Alexander Herzen left Russia for western Europe, never to return. 'I found everything I sought—yes, and more,' he would write later, after his first five years abroad, 'ruin, the loss of every blessing and every hope, blows from behind my back, sly treachery,...

(The entire section is 10163 words.)

Michael R. Katz (essay date 1984)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Introduction to Who Is to Blame?: A Novel in Two Parts, by Alexander Herzen, translated by Michael R. Katz, Cornell University Press, 1984, pp. 15-39.

[In the following essay, Katz places his synopsis of the novel Who Is to Blame? between a discussion of its literary precedents and a review of the critical evaluations it has received since its publication.]

Intellectual Ferment

During the decade that followed the abortive Decembrist Rebellion of 1825, Russia was a bleak and hostile place. Tsar Nicholas's official policy of repressive measures had resulted in complete political stagnation and produced, particularly among the...

(The entire section is 8669 words.)

Martin A. Miller (essay date 1986)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The World of Emigration in Nineteenth-Century Europe," in The Russian Revolutionary Emigres: 1825-1870, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986, pp. 3-31.

[In the excerpt that follows, Miller examines both how Herzen affected the emigrant circles in which he moved in the 1850s and how that context shaped him. Miller concludes with a look at the considerable success of Herzen's newspaper The Bell.]

Alexander Herzen, an aristocrat whose name is synonymous with the development of Russian socialism, arrived in Western Europe on the eve of the outbreak of revolution in France in 1848. Herzen's role abroad, where he spent the most creative years of his life, was so...

(The entire section is 3687 words.)

Judith Zimmerman (essay date 1989)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Conclusion," in Mid-Passage: Alexander Herzen and European Revolution, 1847-1852, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989, pp. 221-28.

[The following chapter, which reviews Herzen's reaction to the failed European uprisings of 1848, culminates in a comparison of Herzen's thought with that of Karl Marx.]

Historians have perceived the revolutions of 1848 as paradoxical defeats for the revolutionary ideal. The dreams of political romanticism died on the barricades in Paris in June, or in Vienna in October; the makers of the revolution went to prison, or to exile, or to their deaths. The age of generous ideals and of simple, clear visions of political morality came...

(The entire section is 3198 words.)