Alexander Herzen's own brilliance and the extraordinary circumstances of his life combine to place his memoirs among the greatest works of the modern era. Born in 1812, the illegitimate son of a wealthy Russian landowner, he became one of the most important revolutionary and intellectual figures of his time: as theorist, polemicist, propagandist, and political actor. Fifty years after his death, Lenin revered him as the father of Russian revolutionary socialism. Tolstoy said he had never met another man 'with so rare a combination of scintillating brilliance and depth'. His monumental autobiography is an unparalleled record of his - and his century's - remarkable life. Herzen's story of his privileged childhood among the Russian aristocracy is lit with the insight of a great novelist. With a trained historian's sense of the interaction of people and events, he limns the grand line of revolutionary development from the earliest stirrings of Russian radicalism through the tumultuous ideological debates of the international. His close friends and enemies - Marx, Wagner, Mill, Bakunin, Garibaldi, Kropotkin - are brought brilliantly alive.
Dwight Macdonald's knowledgeable and fluent abridgement makes this great work readily available to the modern reader.