In the energy with which she pursued the two imperatives of modernization and absolute power, Catherine was by far the most distinguished [successor to Peter the Great of Russia]. (p. 30)
Most of Catherine's biographers have been equally dazzled, but none has been so naively eager in the celebration of her will as M. Troyat [in Catherine the Great]. The silliness of his fatuously admiring book can be illustrated by a single sentence: "there was nothing … involuntary or unconscious in [Catherine's] daily behavior." The other qualities of this "solid rock of will," as he calls her, are hardly more credible. Her fanatical belief in reason and her worship of clarity enabled her, we are told, to...
(The entire section is 409 words.)