Motherland: A Philosophical History of Russia by Lesley Chamberlain - review by Donald Rayfield

Donald Rayfield

The Borders of Thought

Motherland: A Philosophical History of Russia


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PHILOSOPHY IN RUSSIA, so eagerly consumed by the intellectual classes, would seem to have been almost entirely imported, with little of the domestic product fit for export. Of all the thinkers in the canon of Russian philosophy, perhaps only one might have succeeded in becoming a professor of philosophy in the West. Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy (1945) gives Russian thinkers very short shrift: they are expunged from history.

Russian novelists have stood in for the philosophers. Without Dostoevsky, it is hard to see how the French existentialist philosopher-novelist Sartre and Camus could ever have evolved. If we look at the history of the Labour Party or the Indian Congress Party, we have to admit that Leo Tolstoy had

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