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The Romantic Exiles: A Nineteenth Century Portrait Gallery [Paperback]

Edward Hallett Carr
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

12 Mar 2007
First published in 1933, "The Romantic Exiles" is a unique and spirited biography of Alexander Herzen (1812-1868), a self-exiled Russian aristocrat who was the leader of a small group of revolutionary-minded expatriates. Their story is the record of the inevitable and disastrous linkage of political and emotional liberalism in the two decades following the Romantic rebellion of the 1830's; and it is the story of the destruction of their ideals and achievements (political and personal) due to shifting ideologies and the passage of time.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Serif (12 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897959559
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897959558
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.2 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,716,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"There is a great charm in the way Mr. Carr has recreated the atmosphere of those strange Russian exiles, 'run to intellect, ' who caused so profound an influence on Europe's literary evolution in the middle of the last century. Great figures are conjured up with real skill by Mr. Carr's able pen."--"The New York Times" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pathos, Futility, Tragedy, Farce 25 Jan 2009
By Pablo K
Less a history than a series of sketches, E. H. Carr's 1933 book sits alongside his biographies of Dostoevsky, Karl Marx and Michael Bakunin as a neglected aspect of his prodigious output. The 'romantic exiles' of the title - aristocratic Russian radicals like Alexander Herzen, Bakunin, Nicholas Ogarev - are ruthlessly demolished through an occasionally sordid catalogue of hypocrisy, deceit and narcissism. Herzen and his friends are portrayed as juvenile in the extreme, especially in affairs of the heart and the petty love squabbles which apparently dominated their lives. We are led to understand that these men, romantics rather than rationalists, never came to terms with reality, either in terms of their closeted privilege or the political possibilities of 19th century Europe. In his epilogue, Carr characterises their collective lives in terms of futility, tragedy and pathos.

Although rich in detail, particularly on the countless exchange of love letters, family trees and travel routes, this lacks any deep or satisfying analysis. For a man so associated with determinism, either as a 'realist' in international affairs or as a Marxist, Carr has curiously little to say about economics or politics, not even as off-hand accounting for the apparent shallowness of the exiles. Some of the middle chapters deal fleetingly with internal disputes about democracy and revolution but there is generally little here to suggest that these views were taken at all seriously, or even honestly held. We learn nothing of the general social context in which these men acted, the struggles of the day or the very real brutality of the existing regimes of privilege against which they militated. Herzen's role in the liberation of the Serfs merits no serious discussion, not even to suggest that his role is overblown.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Romance and exiles 30 Nov 2007
By David Mcrae - Published on Amazon.com
This is a masterpiece of English academic writing. Lucid, perfectly judged, witty, the book follows the paths of Alexander Herzen and his remarkable family and acquaintances through the cultural currents of mid-19th century Europe. The big story is Herzen's love life. How he managed to be so productive for several decades among the extraordinary turbulence of these experiences is a complete mystery, a mystery handled beautifully by Carr. If you want some insights -- insightfully partial, domestic and exquisitely detailed -- into the passionate and talented angry middle-aged men who theorised and fomented the Russian and other revolutions, this is your book. From there go onto Herzen's own My Past and Thoughts or Isaiah Berlin's writing on the same topics.The Romantic Exiles
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return of The Romantic Exiles 11 Jan 2010
By Philip Brantingham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After almost half a century of being out of print, in fact, a rare book, E.H. Carr's "The Romantic Exiles" is once more available. It is, to put it mildly, a rare treat. This dramatic portrait of Alexander Herzen and his family (and followers) reads almost like a novel--but is certainly not fiction.
Herzen the radical publicist, wrongly portrayed as a far-Left radical, was one of the responsible promoters of democratic reform in tsarist Russia. While now and then he turned his eye on other countries, especially Poland, he was chiefly a journalist for political reform in his native Russia--from which he fled with his family.
But "The Romantic Exiles," while partly about Herzen's life and times, is chiefly about his personal life, his amours and his friendships. These were tangled, to say the least. The followers attracted to him were ambitious but flawed personalities, wrapped up in their love affairs and love failures. In covering these events. E. H. Carr seems to be dabbling in melodrama. But it's really not the case. His portrait of this group of troubled Russian rebels is as moving as a Chekhov play--which sometimes it resembles.
Rising above it all is Herzen--a truly noble figure in the politics of 19th century Europe. Noble, yes, but tragic. Battling for reform in Russia, he suddenly found himself outmoded when the reforming tsar, Alexander II, came to the throne. His reforms were exactly what Herzen had called for, liberation of the serfs, changes in legal procedures. Herzen felt suddenly out of date.
Anyone interested in this period and in the extraordinary figure of Alexander Herzen, must read this wonderful reissue.
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