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The Enigmatic Tsar and His Empire

Russia under Alexander I. 1801–1825

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Edited By Jan Kusber, Alexander Kaplunovskiy and Benjamin Conrad

In many ways Russia under Alexander I was an epoch of exploration and revision of empire and state-building. The authors of this volume explore the Alexandrine-era Russia not from the traditional vantage point of the emperor and his inner circle but from the point of view of experts and elites. These «men on the spot» drafted «maps» of the empire and its collective subjects and constructed social, political, and economic imaginaries of the empire. All these revisions and projects did not necessarily lead to an immediate and consistent (re)organization of the political, social, and cultural structures of imperial space. The Alexandrine Russia may be interpreted much more as a «laboratory» in which different potential scenarios for modernization were designed, discussed, and tested—but also rejected and forgotten.

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“… en Europe il fallait compter trois puissances: l’Angleterre, la Russie et Mme de Staël …”: Salon Culture and the Formation of Networks during the Struggle against Napoleon (Maike Sach)

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Maike Sach

“… en Europe il fallait compter trois puissances: l’Angleterre, la Russie et Mme de Staël …”: Salon Culture and the Formation of Networks during the Struggle against Napoleon

To be referred to as a great European power probably would have caused a witty comment by Germaine de Staël (1766–1817), French woman of letters on the verge of Romanticism, forerunner of comparative study of literature, early feminist, and last but not least famous salonnière.1 She was already deceased when the above cited lines from the memoirs of Victorine de Chastenay—a French noblewoman who had made the acquaintance of both Mme de Staël and Napoleon—were published.2 And yet, during Mme de Staël’s lifetime, a broader European public would have agreed with this opinion because of her open opposition toward Napoleon, which was boldly manifested in eloquent conversation and both critical and fictional writings, and which found an attentive audience throughout Europe. For his part, Napoleon perceived Mme de Staël clearly as an opponent, as is proven by his reactions to her social and literary activities. Or to be more precise, he seemed to have been quite annoyed that Mme de Staël showed herself to be recalcitrant to his influence and acted as an opponent, one whom he could not defeat on his usual battlegrounds. The purpose of the present study is to explore the nature, the extent, and the limits of the influence that Mme de Staël...

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