Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Slavophile Thought and the Politics of Cultural Nationalism

Slavophile Thought and the Politics of Cultural Nationalism by Susanna Rabow-Edling

There is a unique and strongly argued layout in this book. Unfortunately it's quite redundant, structured fairly poorly, and ultimately fails to convince in its central thesis. The effort to build up the cosmopolitan, sophisticated and constructive elements of Russian nineteenth century Slavophiles is a useful conterpoint to general trends, but as presented here the argument is unpersuasive. Further recurrent problems in the style of the book make it an overall weak effort.

Where Rabow-Edling offers the most enduring value is in the general gloss on the strong and varied role played by utopias in Russian political thought. Where the claims becomes more specific, however, they also become far too overstated.

Better than: Women in Exile: Wives of the Decembrists by Anatole Mazour

Worse than: Writing at Russia's Border by Katya Hokanson

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