Alexander Herzen 1812-1870 was a brilliant Russian writer and thinker known as the “father of Russian socialism” and created the Free Russian Press in London. He lived in London between 1852 and 1864. He was a revolutionary and a revolutionary thinker. He fought against Christian hypocrisy for individual self-expression.
Herzen fled to Britain because of his revolutionary failures and personal tragedies. He was depressed for a number of years. But in London he gained new energy for political and literary work to help the Russian peasantry he idolised. His work My Past and Thoughts was compared to the writings of Rousseau, Tolstoy, and Goethe.
For Russians he is as famous as Carl Marx and Tolstoy. So how come nobody has ever heard of him?
History is full of characters who are forgotten pioneers and thinkers in different fields.
Alexander Herzen was one of these thinkers.
Why has nobody heard of him? Nobody seems to know. In the Brilliant Rage of Alexander Herzen by Michael Macdonald states that critics such as Dwight Macdonald in 1948 were trying to raise interest in the work of Herzen.
He could only say that he did not travel well. His efforts to publicise him were in vain.
Later in 2002 English playwright Tom Stoppard, wrote a trilogy of three-hour plays, Voyage, Shipwreck and Salvage, collectively known as The Coast of Utopia.
This was the complicated story of Herzen and the group of 19th Century Russian revolutionaries. Stoppard’s trilogy was successful in both London and New York. Unfortunately Herzen being portrayed in a play was not like reading his brilliant writings. But it did bring him more recognition then ever before.
My Past and thoughts by Alexander Herzen
Bloomsbury Walks with Chris Roberts and
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This article is designed to provoke argument and critique. Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2014