Setting

The sense of displacement that began in Shipwreck is further developed in Salvage. The characters find themselves in a new location, England, and are further distanced from their native Russia. In addition, a new generation of characters is introduced in Salvage that have no knowledge of their mother country. Russia for them is simply an idea, and this further separates them from Herzen’s generation. Never is this more keenly felt than in the juxtaposition of Herzen to his son, Sasha.

In Salvage, the setting is indicative of ideals, dreams and relationships. The Russia that seems lost to Herzen is not merely the land and its inhabitants (though that loss is not insignificant). Herzen has lost the Russia that was supposed to be, the utopian Russia that he and his friends and comrades foresaw as young people. In a sense, Herzen’s rejection of the utopian ideals is a recognition of the faulty idealism of their youth. The Russia he and his contemporaries lost never existed, nor was it ever going to exist. In its place came a new Russia, one not untouched by the efforts of Herzen and company, but not a utopia of any kind.

In more tangible terms, the lost Russia also represents the people lost along the way, who died without seeing the realization of their efforts. The absence of Belinsky is keenly felt in Salvage, as are the ghosts of Herzen’s lost wife and son (not to mention his mother). Furthermore, of the characters that remain, many of their relationships have suffered and fractured. Ogarev, who so fondly recalled his youth with Herzen at the end of Shipwreck, has seen two wives betray him by the end of Salvage. Herzen, too, seems unable to find the perfect match for him. Much of the happiness these characters felt at the beginning of Voyage is lost by the final scene of Salvage, in which Herzen delivers a kind of eulogy to the whole movement and The Coast of Utopia trilogy itself.