The Emergence of Russian Liberalism: Alexander Kunitsyn in Context, 1783-1840

Hardcover | May 15, 2011

byJulia Berest

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This study offers a fresh perspective on the history of Russian liberalism by looking at the life and work of Alexander Kunitsyn, a teacher and philosopher of natural law, whose academic and journalistic writings contributed to the dissemination of Western liberal thought among the Russian public. Placed into the broad intellectual and political context of its time, Kunitsyn’s life illuminates the history of legal philosophy and early liberalism in Russia—topics that remain little studied in Russian and Western scholarships. One of the chapters is devoted to the textual and historical analysis of the major works on legal philosophy published in early nineteenth century Russia, none of which has been examined before. A comparison with other thinkers highlights Kunitsyn’s distinctly individualistic and liberal interpretation of natural law theory. It also explains why the publication of his work triggered an official reaction against the teaching of natural law and philosophy in Russian universities.

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This study offers a fresh perspective on the history of Russian liberalism by looking at the life and work of Alexander Kunitsyn, a teacher and philosopher of natural law, whose academic and journalistic writings contributed to the dissemination of Western liberal thought among the Russian public. Placed into the broad intellectual and...

Julia Berest received her PhD in history from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, where she is currently Adjunct Professor of History.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.72 × 5.72 × 0.82 inPublished:May 15, 2011Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230111734

ISBN - 13:9780230111738

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Table of Contents

Formative Years * Years in the Tsarskoe Selo Lyceum * Kunitsyn in the Son of Fatherland * Kunitsyn and Nicholas Turgenev: “The Society of the Year 1819” * Natural Law Tradition in Russia * Natural Law * In the Midst of Conservative Reaction * Epilogue * Conclusion

Editorial Reviews

“The Emergence of Russian Liberalism is a meticulous intellectual biography that will be of great use to historians of Russian social thought and literature. Berest’s careful, sequential and deeply knowledgeable reconstruction of Alexander Kunitsyn’s life is an impressive accomplishment.  It shows how liberalism—as an ideology building from a belief in individual moral autonomy to imagine a laissez-faire world of social self-governance—did and did not fit within the great intellectual ferment of Russia’s early nineteenth century ‘Golden Age.’”—John Randolph, Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois “Julia Berest’s book on Alexander Kunitsyn is a serious, important contribution to Russian intellectual history. In general, Russian liberal thought is an under-studied area and our knowledge of its early manifestations is particularly feeble. Berest’s book will help to fill these gaps.”— Alexander Etkind, Reader in Russian Literature and Cultural History, Department of Slavonic Studies, University of Cambridge “A fascinating study of a significant subject.  Berest’s careful and original examination of Alexander Kunitsyn and his larger milieu will prove an indispensable source for all who wish to understand the genesis of liberal ideas in Russia.”—Eli Nathans, Associate Professor, Department of History, The University of Western Ontario