William James in Russian Culture

Overview

Editors Joan Grossman and Ruth Rischin pose to their contributors an intriguing question: What happens when the ideas of a thinker like William James, who—despite his originality—was deeply rooted in American traditions, are refracted through a culture that draws on a heritage profoundly different from his own? Including studies of reception and interpretation of James's major works and analyses of the impact of his own philosophy on certain Russian writers and thinkers, William James in Russian Culture reveals ...

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Overview

Editors Joan Grossman and Ruth Rischin pose to their contributors an intriguing question: What happens when the ideas of a thinker like William James, who—despite his originality—was deeply rooted in American traditions, are refracted through a culture that draws on a heritage profoundly different from his own? Including studies of reception and interpretation of James's major works and analyses of the impact of his own philosophy on certain Russian writers and thinkers, William James in Russian Culture reveals striking parallels among and divergences between the intellectual and the spiritual realms.

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Editorial Reviews

Caryl Emerson
In this wise and timely set of essays, crucial Russian movements and thinkers—including Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Lev Shestov, Maxim Gorky—are brought up against our most exemplary American philosopher. Many of their central dilemmas (the threat that science posed to faith, the ethical responsibility of ends to means) are ones that James himself struggled to resolve. His startling texts were gaining readership in Russia when, in the 1920s, the Bolsheviks excised James from Russian philosophical debates. Now we owe it to philosophy on both sides of the Atlantic to bring him back in. This volume is the necessary first step.
Richard Gale
This excellent collection of essays on James' influence on pre- and post-Soviet writers is a tribute to the universality of his philosophy and its power to reach out to persons in very different cultures from his own and stir them. It makes for fascinating reading.
David Bakhurst
This intriguing collection of essays examines how William James' philosophy has been received in Russia. Its primary focus is the so-called 'silver age' of Russian culture in the early 1900s, when Russian interest in James was at its peak, though there is occasional discussion of the Soviet era, during which James's work was reviled as the epitome of American bourgeois decadence, and a chapter devoted to his philosophy in post-Soviet thought….there is much here for students of Russian Intellectual history to admire….many students of philosophy would profit from dipping into it. It helps reveal the breadth of James' vision and thereby stands as a corrective to those who represent the pragmatist tradition as a kind of antidote to philosophy. The book is a valuable, if eccentric, contribution to the process of retrieving the neglected philosophical culture of pre-revolutionary Russia.
Kennan Ferguson
Finally, the presumption that James is important only for philosophy, and only for Americans, has been thoroughly refuted. The contributors to this artful volume break down the putative boundaries between philosophy and literature, art and politics, East and West. Showing the influences of Russian thinkers on James, and of James upon his Russian contemporaries, these essays remind us of the vitality of his thought and the transnational import of his explorations.
Slavic and East European Journal
The thematics assembled in this volume are well chosen, and the essays themselves all of a high caliber.
Seer
This focused, well-organized collection of studies by English- and Russian-speaking scholars fills a gap and lays a foundation. . . . The excellence of the volume as a whole, however, is in the contextualizing of James's links with Russian culture. . . . Like all good books, this one leaves the reader hungry for more.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739105276
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication date: 4/15/2003
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Joan Delaney Grossman is Professor Emerita in the Department of Slavic languages and Literatures at the University of California-Berkeley. Ruth Rischin is the author of studies of the brothers Pavel and Semyon Yushkevich.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 William James: The European Connection Chapter 3 Adventures in Time and Space: Dostoevsky, William James, and the Perilous Journey to Conversion Chapter 4 What Men Live By: Belief and the Individual in Lev Tolstoy and William James Chapter 5 The Moral Equivalent of War: Violence in the Later Fiction of Lev Tolstoy Chapter 6 Phlosophers, Decadents, and Mystics: James's Russian readers in the 1890's Chapter 7 James and Viacheslav Ivanov at the Threshold of Consciousness Chapter 8 William James in the Moscow Psychological Society: Pragmatism, Pluralism, Personalism Chapter 9 Lev Shestov's James: A Knight of Free Creativity Chapter 10 James and Konovalov: The Varieties of Religious Experience and Russian Theology Between Revolutions Chapter 11 Gorky and God-Building Chapter 12 James and Vocabularies of Contemporary Russian Spirituality Chapter 13 Afterword: William James in Contexts, Plural

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