A Herzen Reader presents in English for the first time one hundred essays and editorials by the radical Russian thinker Alexander Herzen (1812-1870). Herzen wrote most of these pieces for The Bell, a revolutionary newspaper he launched with the poet Nikolai Ogaryov in London in 1857. Smugglers secretly carried copies of The Bell into Russia, where it influenced debates over the emancipation of the serfs and other reforms. With his characteristic irony, Herzen addressed such issues as freedom of speech, a non violent path to socialism, and corruption and paranoia at the highest levels of government. He discussed what he saw as the inability of even a liberator like Czar Alexander II to commit to change. A Herzen Reader stands on its own for its fascinating glimpse into Russian intellectual life of the 1850s and 1860s. It also provides invaluable context for understanding Herzen's contemporaries, including Fyodor Dostoevsky and Ivan Turgenev.
Alexander Herzen (1812-1870), a memoirist, essayist, novelist, publisher, and editor, was one of the most influential figures in Russia's political, social, and economic debates from the 1840s until his death. Among his most important works are a novel, Who Is to Blame? (1846); a book of essays, From the Other Shore (1850); and his autobiography, My Past and Thoughts (1861). Kathleen Parthe is a professor of Russian and director of the Russian Studies Program at the University of Rochester. She is the author of Russian Village Prose: The Radiant Past (Northwestern, 1992) and Russia's Dangerous Texts: Politics Between the Lines (2004). Robert Harris is a lecturer in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages at New College, University of Oxford.