Journals Higher Education



Published: 01 April 2003

603 Pages

ISBN: 9780729408110

Bookseller Code (09)

Nikolai Karamzin

Letters of a Russian Traveller

Edited by Andrew Kahn

Voltaire Foundation in association with Liverpool University Press

Oxford University Studies in The Enlightenment

The Letters of a Russian traveller (1797) are the most important expression of Enlightenment thought from the pen of a Russian writer. In 1789 Nikolai Karamzin (1765-1826), a leading historian and author of sentimental fiction, embarked on an unprecedented intellectual Grand Tour. His itinerary, which took him from St Petersburg through Germany to Revolutionary France and finally to England, served as the basis for this semi-fictional narrative. The narrator visits among others Kant, Herder and Wieland, makes pilgrimage to the resting places of Voltaire and Rousseau, and observes both the revolutionary Assemblée and the English Parliament at first hand. The resulting work is one in which fiction, philosophy, literary and art criticism, historical and biographical writing coalesce, producing nothing less than a wholesale anthropology and evaluation of the Enlightenment from the unfamiliar perspective of a Russian intellectual writing after the outbreak of the French Revolution. This is the first ever complete translation of Karamzin's work into English. The introduction and concluding study explore the intersection of Russian and European intellectual and literary movements, and illuminate questions about travel literature; history of the book and the growth of readership; the self as a philosophical subject; the growth of perceptions of the public sphere; the pre-Romantic fascination with funerary monuments and theories of sociability. This book is aimed at both Russian specialists and Enlightenment scholars who do not read Russian.