Motherland: A Philosophical History of Russia by Lesley Chamberlain
Lesley Chamberlain, novelist, traveller and historian of ideas, has been pondering the enigma of Russia for over thirty years. She finds that over the last two centuries Russian thinkers have tried to answer two fundamental questions: 'what makes a good man?' and 'what is the right way to live?' The nineteenth-century ideal of a happy man living in a just society became, in Russia, a quest to effect wholesale transformation of society. Chamberlain shows how this moral passion, manifesting itself in philosophy and literature, existed in both pre- and post-revolutionary Russia. She reveals that 1917 did not represent the watershed we once thought, and shows how the dream of a plain and simple life reached its negative apotheosis under Lenin. By examining Russian thought over the past two centuries Chamberlain has produced a radical new interpretation of Russian history which, finally, gives us a glimpse in to the soul of that strange country. Motherland is an invaluable introduction to the key Russian thinkers and an eloquently-narrated journey in the history of ideas from a highly original writer.