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Paperback Childhood, Youth and Exile Book

ISBN: 0192815059

ISBN13: 9780192815057

Childhood, Youth and Exile

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Book Overview

This book comprises the first two parts of Herzen's autobiography, My Past and Thoughts, one of the greatest monuments of Russian iterature, comparable to the major works of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Turgenev. Herzen begins with his nurse's account of Napoleon's occupation of Moscow in 1812, and continues through his solitary boyhood and close friendship with his cousin Nick Ogar v, his days at Moscow University, and his eventual imprisonment for his...

Customer Reviews

1 rating

Enormously enjoyable, detailed biography - needs comprehensive biographical notes though

Herzen is one of the classic biographers of mid nineteenth century men of letters. Brought up as Russian he was actually the son of a Russian nobleman and a german girl only 17. Herzen's parents eloped when she was just 16 and married out of the Russian Rites thus putting Herzen's position in society in an odd kind of limbo as he never received his father's name as such even though he was brought up as his son. Herzen later went on to be an obsessive wandered, exiled from Russia for his political views. He roamed Europe until dying at the relatively young age of 58. This book, the first two parts of his memoirs is a detailed, well written memoir of his early life, but includes comentary on the state of Russia and Russian politics of the time. I would highly recommend it to those interested in European life in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, his anecdotal tales and explanations of the serf system clarifies the complex situation of Russian politics. He was still a young baby when Napoleon reached the gates of Moscow as his father and uncle had delayed leaving (1812) and so the first few weeks were spent in semi-captivity, unable to escape Moscow, and trapped despite fire and marauding. Luckily his father was able to gain support from one of Napoleon's generals which protected his family until he was granted safe passage to deliver a message to the Russian tsar, Alexander 1. This story was told to Herzen in later childhood by his nurse who had been with him in the early days. This book really needs much better footnotes and explanatory introduction. The names and relationships of the people in her, or their history, are not obvious to non-readers of Russian history and would be very helpful in the long run. It is still a very compelling book without this, Herzen is an excellent writer and it was an enjoyable read.
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