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Lecture 10

HIST245 Lecture 10: Lecture 10 outline


Department
History
Course Code
HIST 245
Professor
Ana Siljak
Lecture
10

Page:
of 13
HISTORY 245
IMPERIAL RUSSIA
Lecture 10: Slavophiles and Westernizers
I. Introduction
a. Nicholas, reactionary, obey and keep thoughts to yourself, and didn’t want
to hear from you, whether you opposed or supported it, just to do what
told. For man so opposed conservative and liberal, fertile times for
discussion of times in Russia, people defied him; intellectual discussions
broke out, some quasirevolutionary.
b. Importance of ideas for individuals was unmatched by any other time, and
hard to find time in western European that is similar. Ideas were
everything for Russian intellectual elite, determined who friends were,
how lived life, what you stayed up talking about – western philosophical
ideas.
c. “While on this path of Philosophy, our seekers experienced moments of
rapture whose sweetness cannot be comprehended by those who have
never been tormented by spiritual longings, whose parched lips have not
clung to the fountain of thought, who have never been intoxicated by its
magic waters…”
i. Russian philosophical elites and sought to make sense of ideas.
Talking about late debates on ideas and mind blowing, unaided by
any pharmaceutical thought.
d. “People who loved each other parted ways for whole weeks at a time
because they disagreed about the definition of “all embracing spirit” or
had taken as an insult an opinion on “the absolute personality and its
existence in itself.”
i. People get troubled If you have different opinion then they do
(memoirs – people stop talking to each other for weeks until
moments of reconciliation).
e. Took ideas seriously to point of personal conflict.
II. The Inspiration of Romanticism – intellectual context
A. Romantic Literature and Poetry
a. Romanticism: movement in Russia and Europe, movement that rose up
in criticism against enlightenment and everything it stood for, ideas
about Catherine era, the romantics saw as quasidangerous, spiritually
deadening and incorrect philosophy for life and living. Many romantic
figures, including Subert “ugly skeleton without flesh or blood” –
critiquing the enlightenment as critiquing the emphasis on reason that
the enlightenment had insisted on. Determined to show that a human
being was more than rational thinker and worlds problems and
questions could not be answered in rational terms.
i. Life not about solving rational problems, living in mystical and
creative world to include all human things – imagination
(creative force that allowed god like power to artists to create
out of nothing), fascination of science rejected as mechanistic,
materialistic, emphasizing too much of material world and not
spiritualistic of world. Nature was not about dissecting things
but about its beauty and ultimate mystery.
ii. Romantics in philosophy for them, literature, music, art were
always about the dark, mysterious of about such concepts of
live which cant be reduced to rational and death to challenge us
to think beyond the materialistic and go into the spiritualistic.
iii. In Russia was a romantic movement, one distinctly influenced
by romanticism in western world – rejection of rigid formal
rule of poetic expression, but romantic art was about context:
not reasonable context, not supposed to educate but meant to
fill you with emotion, sweep you away, bring into another
world, incite irrational side of you. Why romantic themes about
things about reason, mysterious beauty of nature, darkness of
death, ghosts, goblins, elves, etc (supernatural component).
iv. Themes often borrowed from folk poetry and celebration of the
peasant: peasant is now seen as authentic expression of
untainted humanity, whose relationship with nature and world
is somehow more spiritual than those of city dweller or elite
thinker sitting alone in room.
b. Figure in romantic poems and novels: romantic hero, usually
hero/heroine of a romantic poem is an individual who is consumed by
a longing for something other than what is considered trivial,
mundane, bourgeois and ordinary. Often he, can be she, often
solidarity, lonely, emotions and passions are strong and often mentally
and smarter than his or her contemporary’s and therefore feels
dissatisfied with ordinary life, alienated from fellow creatures and
world, sometimes leading to suicide. Figure cannot fit into regular life
and must be condemned to life of loneliness. Percy Bysshe Shelley:
poem – tragic person, lonely among shadows, among those superficial
and unthinking. Perceptive spiritual accruement. How relate to Russia:
Alexander Pushkin – most famous poets.
i. Hero, Shakespeare. Russian romantic – born into nobility in
1799. Family line interesting component: celebrated because
romantic, his mother side of family was descended from part of
an Ethiopian prince who termed the slave of peter the Great.
African descent. That was something to be celebrated, gave
him an exotic factor, different from Russian elite. Trained in
most elite educational institutions (Lysium – located near
Russian Royal Palaces, taught French before Russia in keeping
with priorities of day – French culture universal and to be
member of nobility meant to use French first, Daschova speaks
of this as well, mentions that she speaks Russia poorly, way of
bragging). To be French, speak French better, was good, and
Pushkin taught or trained in this. Claimed himself he fallen in
love about 37 times, lost money at cards, drank, fought duels,
dabbled in secret societies, lived life of romantic figure. Didn’t
join Decembrists because already exiled for poems critical of
regime, lead wild live style, couldn’t stand him and important
guy write nasty notes to him. Full of anguish.
1. Eugene Onegin
“Whatever clever London offers
To those with lavish whims and coffers….
Whatever Paris, seeking treasure,
Devises to attract the sight…
All this adorned his dressing room,
Our sage of eighteen summers’ bloom…
Perfumes in crystal jars arrayed
Steel files and combs in many guises
Straight scissors, curved ones, thirty sizes
Of brushes for the modern male—
For hair and teeth and fingernail…
For one may be a man of reason
And mind the beauty of his nails.”
a. Echoes theme of Shelley, characteristic life of
poem as also – here again is person who is
concerned with higher things, separating himself
from ordinary concerns in order to become a
romantic poet.
b. Pushkin not just literary inspiration,
philosophical inspiration we are going to talk
about – for long narrative poet Eugene Onegin
introduces new personality into Russian
literature and history. Superfluous man
romantic hero of a sort. Hero of poem Eugene
Onegin is meant to embody personality of this
man, Eugene is a noble man, well educated in
French, in all western literature of the day (just
as Pushkin), product of enlightenment thought,
but all of this merely meant that this guy could
impress high society about little quotes and
quips, all education meant nothing except bleek
view on life, seeks to drown in whirlwind of
parties, cards, and gambling and perfecting
ability to seduce women. Onegin realizes life is
empty and in fact, a tragic figure, because