A Century Mad and Wise. Russia in the Age of the Enlightenment

9789081956888: A Century Mad and Wise. Russia in the Age of the Enlightenment
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. . . No, you will not be forgot, century crazy and wise, Cursed forever and yet, ever the wonder of all, Blood your nativity fouled, thunder of war at your wake, Bloody descend to the grave... But look, rising upwards two cliffs, ascending amidst bloody streams: Peter and Catherine, yes! Eternity's children, and Russia's! Darkness is all in the past, sunshine predicts happy days, S hining the way with the light mirrored off their rocky bluffs. These lines, taken from Aleksandr Radishchev's poem, "The Eighteenth Century" (1801-2), depicted that age as "a century mad and wise," a time of Enlightenment and bloodshed, creation and destruction, progress and retrogress. Its very form, an attempt to reproduce the classical elegiac distich, suggested both Romantic innovation and Classical authenticity. These lines also furnish the title of this volume on Russia in the Age of the Enlightenment, Papers from the IX International Conference of the Study Group on Eighteenth-Century Russia, which was held in July 2014 at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. Scholars from Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States gathered to present their findings which cover a spectrum of issues that span the age of Peter, Catherine and Alexander. These include studies of literature; opera; folk prints; gastronomy; trade and economics; sociology; jurisprudence; diplomacy; travel and exploration; religious, imperial and Masonic discourse; painting and art collecting; and popular entertainments. As Radishchev's poem suggested, they describe an age of both wonders and contrasts, ingenuity and mysticism, initiations and failures.

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