----- Original Message -----
From: Dasa Duhacek
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Friday, November 22, 2002 1:09 PM
Subject: Hitchens//Herzen/VN

Just for the record. Cheers, Ranko Mastilovic
The Atlantic Monthly | December 2002
                       BOOKS & CRITICS
 EDNOTE. I don't know where the formidable Mr. Hitchens got his bit of Nabokoviana from. Can anyone provide the source?   Stoppard, of course, is, like VN, a Slav who writes brilliant English prose.
                             A Nine-Hour Resurrection
                         Alexander Herzen, Marx's rival and Tolstoy's nonfiction counterpart,    enjoys a well-deserved return to center stage in Tom Stoppard's The Coast   of Utopia                                                   
                                         by Christopher Hitchens
[...]By a smaller irony, Herzen's nemesis was someone whose character
and temperament he held in some esteem. Mikhail Bakunin, the
charismatic anarchist and internationalist, was a colossal figure in  those days, appearing not to know the meaning of fear, let alone  prudence. In 1862 Herzen, rather against his better judgment, allowed   himself to be persuaded that a revolution in oppressed Poland might  help to ignite a sympathetic uprising in Russia. But Bakunin's hectic   and irresponsible adventurism—marvelously captured by E. H. Carr  in The Romantic Exiles—ensured that everything went off at half   cock, with the Polish revolutionaries being assured of help that never  came, and with their brave Russian co-thinkers vulnerable to charges  of treason. A terrible Slavophile backlash ensued, with every liberal in
 Moscow accused, in effect, of aiding and abetting a Polish terrorist            scheme. Nothing is more lethal to liberal and socialist aspirations than       competing xenophobias, and among the chief victims of this calamity  was The Bell, which lost almost all its circulation. Herzen's remaining     years of life were poisoned by financial exigency (he finally stopped    being an easy touch for any posturing revolutionary mendicant), by malicious accusations from hard-faced radicals that he had sold out,  and by a series of personal tragedies and sexual humiliations that, to be appreciated, simply have to be read in full. (Vladimir Nabokov is  said to have admired My Past and Thoughts so much that he tried   retrospectively to alter its title to something less pompous-sounding.)
More annihilating than anything, one suspects, must have been
Herzen's realization that from now on the initiative would come not                   from those who spread emancipating ideas but from the sanguinary
clash of nations and classes. This has been the fate of conscientious
radicals throughout history, but nobody ever recorded the emotions of
disaster and disillusionment with more care and scruple and poetry             than Herzen did.