Alexander herzen biography

alexander herzen biography

Herzen had always been a revolutionary thinker admiring the French Revolution and broadly adopting its values. Yet by , full serf emancipation had not been achieved and Herzen grew impatient with reform. Tom Stoppard celebrates the life of Alexander Herzen, the courageous radical Russian exile who became the inspiration for his forthcoming National Theatre trilogy. Herzen is a surname. Notable people with the surname include: Alexander Herzen (–), writer; Édouard Herzen (–), chemist; Jana Herzen, singer. Paperback For me this was two books, the first half about someone born into Russian higher society during the 19th century and who grew up to agitate authorities already leery or revolutionary activity, and the second half about the man in Europe watching the revolutions of other nations as an outsider. The further I look into the western world, into the chain of events which brought Europe to us Russians, the more there arises in me a disgust for all bloody revolutions.

Tom Stoppard Sunday 2 June Now converted into alexanders herzen biography, it is almost the last of the detached rich man's houses that must have given the terrace an extra cachet as a street address in Victorian London. The emancipation of the serfs had lately been proclaimed by Alexander II, henceforth 'the Tsar Liberator'.

Alexander Herzen Part 1

After some alexander herzen biography, the text reached London, and it was decided to hold 'a monster fete' to celebrate the great event.

Every Russian in London, 'of whatever party', was promised a fraternal welcome by the wealthy tenant of Orsett House. The host was Alexander Herzen, son of a Russian nobleman, founder of the Free Russian Press, editor of Kolokol 'The Bell'author of a memoir-in-progress, My Past and Thoughts, and the first self-proclaimed socialist in Russian history. Orsett House is one of a dozen addresses Herzen occupied in London, where he lived continuously between and He was the best-known Russian exile anywhere.

When he lived in Putney at Laurel House, 'Mr Tinkler's', in the High StreetHerzen was in the Putney alexander herzen biography.

Herzen gave due credit for freeing the serfs to Tsar Alexander, and if he saved some of it for himself, this would not have been absurd. The American liberal critic Dwight Macdonald called the Bell 'perhaps the most effective muckraking magazine in radical history'.

Isaiah Berlin, Herzen's most distinguished and most committed cheerleader in modern times, called him a writer and thinker of genius. Herzen was seldom modest about himself, for that alexander herzen biography. The timing of the 'monster fete', five weeks after the emancipation, may not have been unconnected with the fact that it was the week of his forty-ninth birthday.

As a direct result of reading Russian Thinkers, a collection of Berlin's essays assembled and edited by Henry Hardy and Aileen Kelly The Hogarth Press,I was inspired, about five years ago, to try to write a play about Vissarion Belinsky, a literary critic of whom I had never heard. I hadn't long heard of Herzen, either. This was not particularly shameful. Dwight Macdonald, who abridged Herzen's four-volume memoirs for Knopf inchecked out a few of his socio-cultural friends, and they hadn't heard of him.

Belinsky was a friend of Herzen. I wanted to write about him because when he visited Paris he couldn't bear the rowdy free-for-all of the uncensored literary alexander herzen biography he wanted to get back to the punitive alexanders herzen biography in Russia where, as a consequence of censorship, 'people look to writers as their real leaders'.

But the future anarchist Michael Bakunin, the writer Ivan Turgenev and other equally interesting figures elbowed their way into the picture.

Most interesting of all was Herzen. A year or so later, I confessed to Trevor Nunn, who had recently succeeded Richard Eyre at the Royal National Theatre, 'I'm writing three alexanders herzen biography called Bakunin, Belinsky and Herzen The three men appear in all three plays, which are sequential but I like to thinkself-contained, and so may be seen in the 'wrong' order like Star Wars.

I haven't counted the characters, but our designer, Bill Dudley, told me weeks ago that the plays needed costumes to be worn by a company of 30 actorsand I've added a few since then. Isaiah Berlin is The Coast of Utopia 's presiding spirit, but it was Carr's The Romantic Exiles, as well as his terrific biography of Bakunin, which impelled the expansion. There is no general biography of Herzen in English; a glaring need.

Who, then, were 'the Romantic Exiles', and why were they Romantic? Like almost everything else from the West, the Romantic Revolution arrived late in Russia. In this country we think of the Romantics as being mostly concerned with the worship of Nature, and but also through a new kind of literature.

But in Europe it was human nature which the Revolution worshipped - for the liberation of the individual from moral and political absolutism. In Moscow in the early s, among the young men and women of the educated elite, there were two related but distinct responses to Tsarist absolutism where there was a response at allboth of them nurtured in the student body of Moscow University: Both circles were tiny.

The philosophicals took refuge from unpleasant reality in the 'inner liberation' offered by German idealism. Their most famous alumnus turned out to be Bakunin. Meanwhile, the safia zaghloul biography studied the French Revolution and the alexander herzen biography socialists. Their alexander herzen biography was young Herzen. They alexander herzen biography easy meat for the Third Section, the prototype KGB established by Nicholas I in the shock-wave of the officers' plot known as the Decembrist Revolt.

Inwhen Herzen was 22, he and a few others, including his closest colleague, the poet Nicholas Ogarev, were arrested. Herzen spent six years in prison and exile.

alexander herzen biography

By the time he was deemed to have expiated his alexanders herzen biography sufficiently to be allowed abroad, Herzen was 34, married to his first cousin Natalie and, by the death of his father, rich. In January he left Russia with Natalie, their three children, his mother, a tutor, a nanny, and two female dependents, 'in two alexanders herzen biography, padded against the winter cold with fur'.

Their ostensible reason for travel was to seek help for one of the children who was deaf from birth.

alexander herzen biography

They might have expected to return in six months but, of the family, none saw Russia again. Two-year-old Tata lived to be interviewed in old age by the alexander herzen biography of The Romantic Exiles Her elder brother, Sasha, became a professor of physiology and died in Lausanne in These were the two relatively happy endings among the five Herzens who set off that January day.

The party was heading for Paris, the home of revolution 'I came to Paris as people used to come to Jerusalem or Rome'. The Herzens were visiting Italy when revolution broke out in Paris in Februarybut returned in time for Herzen to experience, with growing disgust, the events that were to transform the Second Republic into the Empire of Napoleon III.

In tandem with these public disasters, he experienced a series of private tragedies which finally, five and a half years after leaving home, brought him to England to lick his wounds for, as he thought, a few months. London was full of refugees from the failures of 'the year of revolution' on the Continent, and it was a sad time. But Herzen had one advantage over the rest of the exiles - he had got his money out of Russia with the help of a Rothschild.

When he started the Free Russian Press as a way of re-engaging alexander herzen biography the struggle, it was the saving of his middle years. After the death of Tsar Nicholas, Ogarev and his alexander herzen biography, another Natalie, joined him in London and soon their journal, the Bell, was on course for the emancipation party at Orsett House.

Herzen planned a dramatic gesture at the party. He secretly intended to propose the health of the tsar. He had prepared his speech. He knew he would cause a sensation in the Russian world by this public, symbolic overture by the exile to the autocrat. A few minutes before Herzen's guests started to arrive, news came from Warsaw that Russian troops had opened fire on a rioting crowd and killed many people.

An atmosphere of gloom took much of the joy out of the party. Herzen put away his speech. The next issue of the Bell denounced the Liberator Tsar for the Polish alexanders herzen biography. The Bell was then at its peak. It wasn't much to look at think of Private Eye without illustrations or much in the way of layout, printed on newspaper but its circulation was astounding for a magazine which had to be smuggled to its readers - it had a print run of 2, and some editions had to be reprinted.

It had been going for nearly four years, during which time it pleased almost every section of literate Russian society, even in the Winter Palace, where the tsar was said to read it; he was on the side of reform and so was Herzen, the most visible and most eloquent opponent of Russian autocracy. For the previous couple of years, Herzen and his magazine and Herzen's closest friend, fellow exile and co-editor Ogarev had been wrangling with the emerging - and militantly inclined - 'new men' at home, but Herzen was still cock of the opposition walk.

But, on the night of the party at Orsett House, when the news arrived from Poland, the edifice of Herzen's reputation invisibly and inaudibly cracked. The article he wrote about the Polish massacre titled 'Mater Dolorosa' was his first open attack on Alexander II in person, and the Bell 's constituency began to fracture.

For some, the Polish business was a test of patriotism. For the 'new men', it showed what Herzen's 'ally' was made of; moreover, they had always argued - and still argued - that true emancipation would require the axe, not the pen. The cause of emancipation had united disparate parties. With emancipation officially achieved, they re-discovered what divided them. The Bell was no longer at the centre of gravity. When Herzen and Ogarev and their dependents left England four years later, it was partly in an attempt to save their magazine by moving it to Geneva, which was filling up with Russian exiles as Alexander's regime grew tougher, and by printing a French edition.

The Bell tolled for the last time in By then Herzen was not just marginalised, but openly derided by the 'nihilist' generation, and on 14 January,eight years and nine months after the party in Westbourne Terrace, he died while on a visit to Paris. It was not the end of the story. Herzen had 'invented' Russian populism in reaction to the alexander herzen biography of Western socialist democracy in the European revolutions of By the end of the s, Herzen was alexander herzen biography re-read at home by the generation which 'went to the people'.

In the course of time, he received a alexander herzen biography endorsement from Lenin, and that made him a sacred alexander herzen biography in Soviet Russia.

In Moscow, a boulevard was named after him. Lenin's imprimatur was to cause some difficulty to Herzen's Soviet editors, for the best-known absentee at Orsett House - best-known to us, unknown to London at large - was Karl Marx.

Marx distrusted Herzen, and was despised by him in return. Herzen had no time for the kind of mono-theory that bound history, progress and individual autonomy to some overarching abstraction like Marx's material dialecticism. What he did have time for - and what bound Isaiah Berlin to him - was the alexander herzen biography over the collective, the actual over the theoretical.

alexander herzen biography

What he detested above all was the conceit that future bliss justified present sacrifice and bloodshed. The future, said Herzen, was the offspring of accident and wilfulness. There was no libretto or destination, and there was always as much in front as behind.

Herzen was not alone in thinking thus, but the pessimism of Schopenhauer, for example, was not in Herzen's character. He was original among his contemporaries in facing the situation, as he saw it, almost with relief, even with relish.

Wit and courage would be needed, but if nothing were certain, everything was possible. The future belonged to us, not we to it. Beyond that, nothing much could be counted on - 'only art, and the summer lightning of personal happiness'. Two or three decades ago, Orsett House was accorded a blue plaque to commemorate Herzen's residence. The Soviet ambassador was prominent at the small ceremony and Professor Carr was there, too.

Isaiah Berlin - as he would tell friends with a chuckle - was not invited. Previews for Voyage begin on 27 June, Shipwreck on 8 July, and Salvage on 19 July.

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