Another Freedom: The Alternative History of an Idea

Another Freedom: The Alternative History of an Idea

by Svetlana Boym
     
 

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The word “freedom” is in danger of becoming a distorted and tired cliché. In Another Freedom, Svetlana Boym explores the rich cross-cultural history of the idea of freedom, from its origins in ancient Greece through the present day, suggesting that our attempts to imagine freedom should occupy the space of not only “what is”

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Overview

The word “freedom” is in danger of becoming a distorted and tired cliché. In Another Freedom, Svetlana Boym explores the rich cross-cultural history of the idea of freedom, from its origins in ancient Greece through the present day, suggesting that our attempts to imagine freedom should occupy the space of not only “what is” but also “what if.” Beginning with notions of sacrifice and the emergence of a public sphere for politics and art, Boym expands her account to include the relationships between freedom and liberation, modernity and terror, political dissent and creative estrangement, and love and freedom of the other. For Boym, “another freedom” is an adventure that tests the limits of uncertainty and responsibility, of individual imagination and pubic culture. While depicting a world of differences, she affirms lasting solidarities with the commitment to passionate thinking that reflection on freedom requires.

 

Another Freedom is filled with stories that illuminate our own sense of what it means to be free, and it assembles a remarkable cast of characters: Aeschylus and Euripides, Pushkin and Tocqueville, Kafka and Osip Mandelshtam, Arendt and Heidegger, and a virtual encounter between Dostoevsky and Marx on the streets of Paris. What are the limits of freedom and how can freedom be imagined anew? Drawing upon her experience as a native of St. Petersburg, Russia transplanted to the United States, Boym dares to ask whether American freedom can be transported across national borders. With these questions in mind, Boym attempts to reinvent freedom as something “infinitely improbable”—yet nevertheless still possible.

 

By offering a fresh look at the strange history of this idea, Another Freedom delivers a nuanced portrait of freedom’s unpredictable occurrences and unexplored plots, one whose repercussions will be felt well into the future.

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Editorial Reviews

Michael Wood

“The title of this book speaks clearly of its brave ambition, its invitation to see freedom as an adventure rather than an old acquisition or an empty fantasy. This would be ‘another freedom,’ not the one we half-have or the one we keep losing or the one we are always trying to impose on other people. In a series of illuminating readings of texts from ancient Greece and modern Russia, subtle studies of Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Arendt, and many other writers and thinkers, Svetlana Boym shows us an array of freedom’s most distinguished failures or near-misses, and through those very stumbles she demonstrates what success could mean. ‘Perhaps,’ as she says in relation to the famous ‘Ode to Stalin,’ ‘we owe it to Mandelshtam to imagine Sisyphus happy.’”—Michael Wood, Princeton University
Isobel Armstrong

“In this new and incredibly ambitious account of the anatomy of freedom, Svetlana Boym works through the specifics of historical, aesthetic, and cultural narratives, moving effortlessly from large movements to human relationships and back again. Another Freedom is an engaging and imaginative philosophical experiment, at once intellectually gripping and moving, intensely relevant to the contemporary condition, and a major work of dazzling scholarship.”—Isobel Armstrong, Birkbeck College, University of London

Michael Holquist

“Svetlana Boym is at her personal and original best when analyzing the subtle shifts and currents in intimate relations between complicated figures, as she does with exquisite delicacy here in Another Freedom. Deploying an enormous range of scholarship that includes in-depth knowledge of the philosophical literature on freedom, Boym puts ideas into life and life into ideas. A wide-ranging work for literary scholars of all stripes, this is an exemplary, important, and original book that succeeds in finding new ways to make the argument for freedom.”—Michael Holquist, Yale University

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226069739
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
05/15/2010
Pages:
360
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Svetlana Boym is the Curt Hugo Reisinger Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature at Harvard University, as well as an associate of the Graduate School of Design and Architecture. A writer, theorist, and media artist, she is the author of The Future of Nostalgia, among other publications.

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