Russia's Path toward Enlightenment

Faith, Politics, and Reason, 1500-1801

G. M. Hamburg

View Inside Price: $125.00


June 28, 2016
912 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300113136
HC - Paper over Board

This book, focusing on the history of religious and political thinking in early modern Russia, demonstrates that Russia’s path toward enlightenment began long before Peter the Great’s opening to the West. Examining a broad range of writings, G. M. Hamburg shows why Russia’s enlightenment constituted a precondition for the explosive emergence of nineteenth-century writers such as Fedor Dostoyevsky and Vladimir Soloviev.

 G. M. Hamburg is Otto M. Behr Professor of History at Claremont-McKenna College. His previous books include Politics of Russian Nobility, 1881–1905;Boris Chicherin and Early Russian Liberalism; and (as editor) Liberty, Equality, and the Market: Essays by B. N. Chicherin. He lives in Claremont, CA.

“This patient and persuasive book is the indispensible prehistory to the Russia we think we know, a country whose politics constantly disappoints. This is intellectual history at its most empathetic, full of personal stories but without ever losing its analytic edge.”—Caryl Emerson, Princeton University

“This patient and persuasive book is the indispensible prehistory to the Russia we think we know, a country whose politics constantly disappoints. Hamburg does not whitewash that politics. But he does remind us that the Kantian values of autonomy, self-mastery, and secular reason are not the only Enlightenment possible; however imperfectly realized, more potent in Russia have always been the ideals of spiritual illumination and applied Christian ethics. This is intellectual history at its most empathetic, full of personal stories but without ever losing its analytic edge.”—Caryl Emerson, Princeton University

"In Russia’s Path toward Enlightenment, Gary Hamburg illustrates the tensions and the synergy between tradition and modernity that underlie the development of modern Russia. Every student of Russian culture will want to read this book."--Donna Tussing Orwin, F.R.S.C., Professor and Chair, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Toronto

“This is the first comprehensive, in-depth survey of political thought in Russia from medieval times until the end of the eighteenth century. Hamburg does not subscribe to the usual interpretation of ever-increasing secularization and Europeanization. His account is more refined, and more convincing: Western thought sharpened Russian conceptual categories without completely erasing them. There was an enlightenment, but an indigenous one. This book will not be surpassed for years.”--Manfred Hildermeier, University of Göttingen

"Closely examining every important Russian thinker over a period of more than three hundred years, including several autocrats, Professor Hamburg has produced a magisterial grand narrative, from which there emerges a fresh interpretation of the Russian Enlightenment that will have enduring value for students of Russian intellectual history."-- Derek Offord, University of Bristol

“Among the venerable intellectual histories of Russia that have been written over the last two centuries, this massive, sweeping book represents the premier contribution of the current era.”—Foreign Affairs

“Impressive . . . Hamburg’s discussions of individual thinkers are thorough and compelling, making his book an effective reference text.”—Choice

“A worthy objective, indeed, and sufficient justification for a wide range of historians and others to want to consult this wonderful, continuously thoughtful and thought-provoking book.”—James Cracraft, University of Illinois