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Reflections on the Russian soul - A Memoir

Dmitry S. Likhachev

Dmitry S. Likhachev, was one of Russia's most famous literary historians and cultural commentators. In the late 1980's Mikhail Gorbachev enlisted him as Chairman of the Soviet Cultural Fund. In 1998 he was the first person since 1917 to be presented with the order of St. Andrew. He died October 1999, aged 92

"Protector of Russia's heritage."
- The New York Times Obituaries, October 1999

"It is the end of an era."
- Vladimir Gusev, Director of St. Petersburg's Russian Museum (on the death of D.S. Likhachev)

This compelling and often traumatic book is the memoir of one of the most important figures in modern Russian history, Dmitry S. Likhachev, revered as 'a guardian of national culture'. Reflections on the Russian Soul is an incredible account of an intellectual's turbulent journey through twentieth century Russia. Likhachev re-counts the fortunes of people with whom he came into contact and reproduces the air of passed years in Russia.

Likhachev vividly portrays his childhood years in St. Petersburg and continues into his student life at Leningrad State University that led to an agonizing period of imprisonment and near death. He describes how a harmless telegram caught the attention of the Secret Police, resulting in his exile and confinement within the infamous prison island of Solovky. He describes his first-hand experience of brutality in prison during the early Stalin years and the incident that not only saved him but also haunted him for the rest of his life.

He reflects on the years after his release from prison and the events leading up to the Second World War. His powerful recollection of the blockade of Leningrad provides the reader with a horrific insight into the harsh effects of war, hunger and survival. Lichachev goes on to describe post-war Russia and how his own livelihood developed from literary editor to a return to Leningrad University as Professor of History. This compelling autobiography finishes with Likhachev's poignant return to Solovky as a free man.

Relections on the Russian Soul is a landmark of contemporary Russian history and culture that will appeal to the general reader and anyone interested in twentieth century Russian history and culture and, above all it is a story of one man's survival.

"A la fin de ce temoignage de premier plan, le lecteur a le sentiment que l'auteur a ete un veritable miracule de l'Histoire, rescape du typhus aux Solovki, de la repression, de la famine a Leningrad, sauve du destin tragique qui fut le lot de tant d'intellectuels de sa generation par des faits souvent infimes et derisoires, comme son ulcere d'estomac chronique qui le fit parfois s'absenter de la scene au bon moment. C'est comme si le destain l'avait epargne pour qu'il puisse temoigner.
On ne peut qu'etre sensible a la qualite litteraire de l'ensemble, aux dons de conteur de l'auteur qui se laissent apprehender meme dans cette traduction anglaise. On a affaire ici a un veritable roman de formation qui eclaire la parcours spirituel de l'auteur et donne un sens a toute son oeuvre. Mais ce destin individuel eclaire aussi celui de toute l'intelligentsia russe au cours du siecle dernier a un moment ou l'anamnese est si prisee." - Revue des etudes slaves

350 pages
ISBN 978-963-9116-46-7 cloth $44.95 / €39.95 / £35.00