Alexander Herzen is best known as the author of My Past and Thoughts, those sparkling memoirs which are, as Sir Isaiah Berlin has rightly said, one of the finest depictions of progressive and radical European politics in the mid-nineteenth century, as well as being of a literary quality equal to the greatest Russian novels. Herzen was an incomparable observer and a wittily skeptical and ironical writer (he was often called the Russian Voltaire); he was also at the center of Russian cultural life as a young man. Later, in European exile, he became a figure of international renown after setting up the first free Russian press in London, founding the weekly journal Kólokol (The Bell), which served as the voice of liberal opinion in his stifled homeland, and also turning out a series of works (mainly in the form of imaginary dialogues with or letters to friends and adversaries) which have lost none of...


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