Arc of Utopia

The Beautiful Story of the Russian Revolution

Lesley Chamberlain

Arc of Utopia

Lesley Chamberlain

Distributed for Reaktion Books

256 pages | 6 x 9
Cloth $29.95 ISBN: 9781780238524 Published December 2017 For sale in North and South America only
Although Lenin and his fellow revolutionaries never called themselves Utopians—believing strictly in a science of revolution, they considered Utopians to be merely dreamers—they were enormously inspired by the grand humanitarian aims of the French Revolution of 1789. Taking up this French revolutionary agenda and reinforcing it with German philosophy, Russians formed a beautiful vision in which an imaginary theology blended with a premier role for art.

Arc of Utopia offers a fresh look at these German philosophical origins of the Russian Revolution. In the book, Lesley Chamberlain explains how influential German philosophers like Kant, Schiller, and Hegel were dazzled by contemporary events in Paris, and how this led a century later to an explosion of art and philosophy in the Russian streets, with a long-repressed people reinventing liberty, equality, and fraternity in their own cultural image. Chamberlain examines how some of the greatest Russian names of the nineteenth-century—from Alexander Herzen to Mikhail Bakunin, Ivan Turgenev to Fyodor Dostoevsky—defined their visions for Russia in relationship to their views on German enthusiasm for revolutionary France.

With the centenary of the Russian Revolution approaching, Arc of Utopia is an important and timely revisioning of this tumultuous moment in history.
Review Quotes
Bengt Jangfeldt, author of Mayakovsky: A Biography
“This book is, in the author’s words, about ‘the Russian revolution as rooted in a vision of moral beauty.’ It is this dichotomy that attracts us and repels us in Russian history: on the one hand, the uncompromising search for beauty and the extraordinary art in which it resulted; on the other, the police state which was the outcome of the political realisation of an idea that aspired to cover all aspects of life. No one is more qualified to discuss these questions than Lesley Chamberlain. The result is an ingenious, eye-opening, superbly told story.”
Roger Scruton, author of Art and Imagination: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind
"Chamberlain covers the German antecedents of the Russian revolution in such an engaging and interesting way. This is a very well written and much needed book that analyzes the Romantic input so well. She brings the complexity of that input very much to the fore. This is a real contribution to the history of ideas, like her book on Nietzsche in Turin."
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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