RUSSA: ABSENT AND PRESENT by Wladimir Woidle
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RUSSA: ABSENT AND PRESENT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For all its briefness, this little book is one of the most compact as well as fully-rounded studies of Russian life and culture-from the dim beginnings of the Kiev Dynasty to the troubled present-which has appeared in recent years. The author takes as his point of departure an examination of the two great trends of Russian thought: the ""westerners"" who see Russia as a unit of Western culture closely affiliated with the rest of Europe, and the ""slavophiles"" who believe Russia's destiny is estrangement from the West and concentration on the Asiatic aspects of her history and culture. Siding firmly with the ""westerners"", the author goes briefly into the Graeco-Byzantine roots of Russian culture, the development of a large peasantry spread over the vast Russian plain and ruled by a small class of imported elite, the coming of Peter and the significance of St. Petersburg in Russian history and in relation to the rest of the great country, and finally, the last century and a half, which saw the finest flowering of Russian arts and a gradual liberalization of laws, followed by the derailment of the country by men who were superb planners of revolution but no statesmen when it came to ruling. His conclusions about the causes and need of the revolution may be somewhat questioned, but the early portions of the book make it well worth reading by every American concerned with the floundering course of recent history.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1952
Publisher: John Day