The Drama of Russian Political History: System against Individuality

By Alexander V. Obolonsky | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
The Evening Glow

Every sigh sucks in death’s air, every hour is our hour to die.

Osip Emilevich Mandelstam

■ The times preceding social and political cataclysms reveal a strange image. At the moment when the fuse of historical causality is already burning and the whole air is filled with expectations of catastrophe, a splendid blossoming of artistic culture and scientific talents occurs and even economic well-being emerges in some branches of the doomed society. A unique poetical spirit glows among the autumn colors, bringing to social life the feeling of departing summer. Rome glowed just before its fall. Germany glowed just before the turbulence of the Reformation, and one hundred years later, on the eve of the Thirty-Years’ War. France glowed before the Revolution of 1789. Russia glowed in the last years of the nineteenth century and the first decade and a half of the twentieth, on the eve of the World War and the Revolution.

The edge of the centuries past and the beginning of the twentieth century are the focus of this chapter. This short period in the history of Russian culture needs to be appreciated. The cultural life of Russian society had never been so bright and intense.

-127-

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