Item description for Reflections on the Russian Soul by Dmitry S. Likhachev...
This compelling and often traumatic book is the memoir of one of the most important figures in modern Russian history, Dmitry S. Likhachev, revered as 'a guardian of national culture'. Reflections on the Russian Soul is an incredible account of an intellectual's turbulent journey through twentieth century Russia. Likhachev re-counts the fortunes of people with whom he came into contact and reproduces the air of passed years in Russia.
Likhachev vividly portrays his childhood years in St. Petersburg and continues into his student life at Leningrad State University that led to an agonizing period of imprisonment and near death. He describes how a harmless telegram caught the attention of the Secret Police, resulting in his exile and confinement within the infamous prison island of Solovky. He describes his first-hand experience of brutality in prison during the early Stalin years and the incident that not only saved him but also haunted him for the rest of his life.
He reflects on the years after his release from prison and the events leading up to the Second World War. His powerful recollection of the blockade of Leningrad provides the reader with a horrific insight into the harsh effects of war, hunger and survival. Lichachev goes on to describe post-war Russia and how his own livelihood developed from literary editor to a return to Leningrad University as Professor of History. This compelling autobiography finishes with Likhachev's poignant return to Solovky as a free man.
Relections on the Russian Soul is a landmark of contemporary Russian history and culture that will appeal to the general reader and anyone interested in twentieth century Russian history and culture and, above all it is a story of one man's survival.
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Studio: Central European University Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.19" Width: 6.35" Height: 1.33" Weight: 1.62 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2000
Publisher Central European University Press
ISBN 9639116467 ISBN13 9789639116467
Reviews - What do customers think about Reflections on the Russian Soul?
What a great book! Oct 4, 2009
Dmitri Likhachev lived the life of his country during the 20th century. In the 1920s, he managed to survive prison on monastary prison on Solovetsky Island (and develop and sustain an interest in the religious art of Russia for the rest of life as well as prision culture), the purges and mass arrests of the 30s and finally the Leningrad Blockade during WWII. Surviving in Russia during the 20th century always took some doing and Likhachev had the ability to avoid being killed (only just barely in one instance), starved or murdered by the regime that imposed itself on Russia during most of his lifetime.
This memoir was designed to provide the people of Russia with the history of the communist regime that it managed to hide during its time in power. Likhachev focused on the period up to 1953 because during this period the record is a more complete one.
The book opens with a wealth of details about how wonderful pre-Revolutionary St Petersburg was. Likhachev was born in 1905 and remembers ever seeing Rasputin wondering around the cafes. What is interesting is that for bourgeois intellectuals like Likhachev that the impact of the revolution was not really understood. It took years before its progressive shabbiness was able to catch up with everyone rendering society almost horribly gray in the process.
Prison was no better and often Likhachev ended up having to devote all of his resources to survive. While his health was shattered, the real impact of prison was to undermine the intellectual health of the country. The leaders of the intelligensia, at least those in Likhachev's circle climbed into a life of detachment and alcoholism by the time Stalin began his campaign against the Kulaks.
The period during the seige of Leningrad was even more perilous, when survival became a daily ordeal due to horrific food shortages. In order to survive, the Likhachevs had to divest themselves of all of their posessions to survive. In a way this was symbollic of the removal of the last vestages of the old life prior to the revolution.
For Likhachev, his task has been to survive and to see that a measure of the the best of old Russia survived until the fall of the regime. I think that Likhachev took much satisfaction in standing by Mayor Sobchuk on that day in August 1991 when the hated regime fell.
This book has a number of impessive vignettes of various people Likhachev encountered as well as insights into his world view. He was a leading authority (and remains) on the early literature of Russia and is also the author of a study of "The Lay of the Hoast of Igor." I am glad that he lived to tell this tale.