Toward Another Shore

Russian Thinkers Between Necessity and Chance

Aileen M. Kelly

View Inside Price: $71.00


June 16, 1998
416 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300070248
Cloth

In this thought-provoking book, an internationally acclaimed scholar writes about the passion for ideology among nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian intellectuals and about the development of sophisticated critiques of ideology by a continuing minority of Russian thinkers inspired by libertarian humanism. Aileen Kelly sets the conflict between utopian and anti-utopian traditions in Russian thought within the context of the shift in European thought away from faith in universal systems and "grand narratives" of progress toward an acceptance of the role of chance and contingency in nature and history.

In the current age, as we face the dilemma of how to prevent the erosion of faith in absolutes and final solutions from ending in moral nihilism, we have much to learn from the struggles, failures, and insights of Russian thinkers, Kelly says. Her essays—some of them tours de force that have appeared before as well as substantial new studies of Turgenev, Herzen, and the Signposts debate—illuminate the insights of Russian intellectuals into the social and political consequences of ideas of such seminal Western thinkers as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Darwin.

Russian Literature and Thought Series

Aileen Kelly teaches Russian studies at Cambridge University and is a Fellow of King's College. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and other major journals.

A selection of Readers’ Subscription

"With its joint consideration of literature and thought and its stress on Russian pluralist and liberal traditions, this is a significant and exciting volume. Kelly makes a major statement on Russian thought, and also on our own."—Gary Saul Morson, Northwestern University

"Rich in insight and thought-provoking. . . Ms. Kelly sketches incisive portraits of a fascinating collection of thinkers—Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and company—and a cultural milieu of anguished philosophical debates that were in fact about the fate of a great nation and, ultimately, the world."—Michael J. Ybarra, Wall Street Journal

"A solid and wide-ranging collection of essays. . . Everything Kelly produces is of interest, and her best essays are sheer delight. Packed with information, densely argued, clearly written, they remind us of that wonderful intoxication with ideas that is the hallmark of the Russian genius and that has marked Kelly herself to such good effect. She has performed a signal service by inviting Russia’s thinkers back into the mainstream of political discourse. I hope someone is already hard at work translating this essential book into Russian."—Michael Scammell, The New York Times Book Review
"[An] excellent book on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian thinkers. . . . Kelly's book is by far the best study of its kind available today. . . . [It] is a masterpiece of its kind, so absorbing that one wants to read it all in one sitting despite its variety and its length; for it is a book that is wonderfully easy to read, and one with no axe to grind. At the same time it argues a case—its own kind of case—illuminatingly and with great subtlety and distinction. . . . Magnificent . . . [An] admirable and remarkable study."—John Bayley, New York Review of Books

"In essays exploring Russian thinkers from Herzen to Bakhtin, Kelly offers a significant reappraisal of Russian thought and its importance both for Western thought and the Russia of today."—Virginia Quarterly Review

"Kelly has woven a glittering web of ideas crossing and recrossing from Tolstoy to Akhmatova, from Dostoyevsky to Mayakovsky and Zamiatin, from potluck to necessity: pessimistic, optimistic, nihilistic, rationalistic, messianic, in concert or in caterwaul . . . . A wonderfully informed and intelligent book, demanding but accessible, and personal."—Eugen Weber, Key Reporter

"With its joint consideration of literature and thought and its stress on Russian pluralist and liberal traditions, this is a significant and exciting volume. Kelly makes a major statement on Russian thought, and also on our own."—Gary Saul Morson

"A defense and illustration, in the liberal spirit of the late Isaiah Berlin, of the bright side of the Old Regime Russian intelligentsia, as opposed to the dark side usually presented to us in Western historical literature. With empathy, even affection, Aileen Kelly gives us probing intellectual portraits of Russian thinkers. From the Westernizers and Slavophiles of the mid-nineteenth century to the revolutionary build-up of the early twentieth century."—Martin Malia, Professor of History, University of California at Berkeley

"A quite exceptionally illuminating survey of the 19th century Russian thinkers and writers who such a profound effect on Russian society and its ideological and revolutionary development. The concluding section on Heizen, 'Another Shore', is a masterpiece."—John Bayley

"The end of Soviet Communism has made the history of the Russian intelligentsia not less but more fascinating than ever. Aileen Kelly has now written a new and intriguing interpretation of their thought, taking the ideas of Isaiah Berlin as a guide, and arguing vigorously that they offer much more enlightenment for the modern world than merely being the spokesmen for a god that failed."—Joseph Frank

"Everything Kelly produces is of interest, and her best essays are sheer delight. Packed with information, densely argued, clearly written, they remind us of that wonderful intoxication with ideas that is the hallmark of the Russian genius and that has marked Kelly herself to such good effect."—Michael Scammell, New York Times Book Review

"A stimulating tour de force through the history of Russian thought, decorated with many incisive analyses and unexpected juxtapositions."—Terence Emmons, American Historical Review

"This is a marvelous book, clearly argued, well documented, and a pleasure to read. . . . Aileen Kelly’s book is required reading for anyone interest in Russian intellectual history. The debates she recounts so eloquently are indeed relevant to our own time."—Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, Slavic Review

"A very dense, learned, well researched, thoughtful, and thought-provoking book."—Hugh McLean, Slavic and East European Journal



"Thought-provoking and rich in information. . . . [Kelly] puts forth not just a ‘set of opinions’ but the well-argued intellectual perspective on the multiform development of Russian political thought."—Marina Kostalevsky, Russian Review

Named a Notable Book of 1998 by The New York Times Book Review
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