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To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History Paperback – April 30, 2003
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Critical and historical study of European writers and theorists of socialism who set the stage for the Russian Revolution of 1917, by Edmund Wilson. It was published in book form in 1940 although much of the material had previously appeared in The New Republic. The work discusses European socialism, anarchism, and various theories of revolution from their origins to their implementation. It presents ideas and writings of political theorists representing all aspects of socialist, anarchist, and what would later be known as communist thought, among them Jules Michelet, Henri de Saint-Simon, Robert Owen, Mikhail Bakunin, Anatole France, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Leon Trotsky, and Vladimir Ilich Lenin--who arrived at Petrograd's (St. Petersburg's) Finland Station in 1917 to lead the Bolshevik revolution. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
EDMUND WILSON (18951972) is widely regarded as the preeminent American man of letters of the twentieth century. Over his long career, he wrote for Vanity Fair, helped edit The New Republic, served as chief book critic for The New Yorker, and was a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books. Wilson was the author of more than twenty books, including Axels Castle, Patriotic Gore, and a work of fiction, Memoirs of Hecate County.
Top customer reviews
4-1-2010. To the Finland Station by Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) [NY Review of Books, NYC, 2003, originally published 1940] is sub-titled "A study in the writing and acting of history". This great book is much more than that. It is more than the erudite succinct summary of European and later American history, more than an accurately cross-referenced interleaved review of the historiography of Western Civilization from Feudalism to the Fuhrer, IL Duce, and the Boss. The thread that runs through the book, in a sense, is the involvement of the `force or will' of Hegel and the `dialectic' of Hegel and Marx. The book definitively demonstrates several threads of the slow inexorable demise and dismemberment of Feudalism leading unexpectedly to the Leninist state. Central are the many philosophers, economists, and sociologists reviewed during the course of the centuries dealt with, certainly the flow of Western Civilization. "To the Finland Station" is an exciting narrative and discussion with surprise twists and turns that bring together the complex issues, priniciples, evolution, devolution, and revolutions that occurred over the centuries. It is one of Western civilization's great works in addition to our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence.
---Paul Shapshak, PhD
He explains just what he found so great about Michelet as a historian and then happily goes on to write his own history in the same style. As a reading experience, TTFS is by turns sly, informative, moving and funny. Wilson incorporates anecdotes from the lives of his history's characters, but I never had the feeling that he was distracting me with funny stories. I felt like I learned an enormous amount from reading the book, but I never felt lectured to. Best of all was the feeling of Wilson himself leaning over your shoulder commenting on the history-- I liked the tone of the man (critic) that came through as commentary on the people he was discussing. He was definitely present, though not intrusive.
The only thing I missed was footnotes-- the version that I was reading was old (1960) and there wasn't anything in the way of footnotes or bibliography provided. I hope that the newer versions are annotated, because it cost me some time tracking down books which Wilson was referring to.
The book can be read as another kind of history as well, not only regarding the early Communist theorists as such but also about the writers who were their cheerleaders during the 1920's and 30's. Wilson and other true believers were so wrapped up with the utopian goal that they were slow to come to terms with the dark side of the actuality as it was practiced in Stalinist Russia. So, read Wilson not only as an historic journey of ideas, but also as a record of the sometimes foolish love story between liberal intellectuals and revolutionaries.
For those interested in writing, Wilson's style is unique. There are dense, half-page, complex sentences but nevertheless he manages to convey subtle meanings with elegance.