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Russia Under Western Eyes: From the Bronze Horseman to the Lenin Mausoleum: Book by Martin E. Malia

Russia Under Western Eyes: From the Bronze Horseman to the Lenin Mausoleum

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ISBN: 9780674002104    Publisher: Harvard University Press Year of publishing: 2000     Format:  Paperback No of Pages: 528        Language: English
As the dust clears from the fall of Communism, what will Western eyes see? Russia, the unclaimed orphan of Western history? Or Russia as she truly is, a perplexing but undeniable member of the European...Read more
As the dust clears from the fall of Communism, what will Western eyes see? Russia, the unclaimed orphan of Western history? Or Russia as she truly is, a perplexing but undeniable member of the European family? Spanning the years from Peter the Great to the fall of the Soviet Union, this text provides a sweeping view of Russia not as an eternal barbarian menace but as an outermost, if laggard, member in the continuum of European nations. Martin Malia shows the reader the usually distorted images and stereotypes that have dominated Western ideas about Russia since the 18th century. Once these emerge as projections of the West's own internal anxieties, he shifts his focus to the institutional structures and cultural forms Russia shares with her neighbours. Modern Europe is depicted as a West-East cultural gradient in which the central and eastern portions respond to the Atlantic West's challenge in delayed and generally skewed fashion. Thus Russia, after two centuries of building then painfully liberalizing its Old Regime, in 1917 tried to leap to a socialism that would be more advanced and democratic than European capitalism.
The result was a cruel caricature of European civilization, which mesmerized and polarized the West for most of the century.
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Review:
Russia Under Western Eyes," by one of the most distinguished Western historians of Russia, is a notable contribution to [the trend of revising judgements about Russian history]...[It is] an erudite...Read more
Russia Under Western Eyes," by one of the most distinguished Western historians of Russia, is a notable contribution to [the trend of revising judgements about Russian history]...[It is] an erudite and imaginative excursion through the intellectual history of Europe over the last three centuries, showing how the West's perceptions of Russian realities have been refracted through the ideas that have shaped European culture--from Enlightenment rationalism, Hegelianism, and Marxism to varieties of positivism, utilitarianism, and pragmatism--and the sociopolitical ideologies, liberal, socialist, nationalist, and fascist, that those ideas have generated. In a lively argument Malia relates the changes in Europe's perceptions of Russia to oscillations between Enlightenment (or rationalistic) and Romantic (or mythopoeic) currents of thought: the 'contrapuntal forms of modern culture, ' which since the early nineteenth century have alternated, mutated, and combined. Malia is not suggesting that there is no 'real' Russia behind our shifting representations of it. He is attempting to resolve an old debate: by exposing concepts of Russian 'otherness' as mythical and pernicious projections of European hopes and fears, he aims to demonstrate that Russia is a European country ineluctably set on a path of political and economic convergence with its more advanced neighbors...Malia's skills as a demythologizer make it hard to resist the conviction that whatever is spared his destructive critique must thereby be the objective and unassailable truth. -- David Joravsky "New York Review of Books
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