Alexander Herzen (1812-1870) was a wonderful writer and one of the key figures in the political, social and economic debates on socialism that took place in Tsarist Russia and Europe from the 1840s until his death. Herzen is not too widely known or appreciated in the United States. However, thanks to the superb efforts of Dr. Kathleen Parthé, a professor of Russian and director of the Russian Studies Program at the University of Rochester, we now have A Herzen Reader,
which presents in English for the first time one hundred essays by Herzen written when Herzen was engaged in a period of frenetic revolutionary journalism in connection with his London-based émigré newspaper, The Bell
. My lengthy essay-review of Dr. Parthé’s invaluable contribution to understanding and appreciating Herzen appears here
The Italian writer Roberto Calasso typically receives rapturous reviews when his books are translated from Italian into English. His latest work to appear in the U.S. is La Folie Baudelaire,
in which Calasso turns his attention to the poet Charles Baudelaire and other writers and artists of Paris in the nineteenth century. Calasso is a highly learned fellow. But why his books should be acclaimed the way they have been has always baffled me. I explain why here
Curzio Malaparte seems to be receiving ever greater attention in the English-language press, witness this excellent essay by Michael Z. Wise for the Los Angeles Review of Books
), which provides a splendid overview of Malaparte’s life and a fascinating description of the house he built for himself on the island of Capri. Michael Wise quotes a number of writers and scholars on Malaparte’s importance and why he seems to be finding a greater audience nowadays outside of Italy, among whom he was kind enough to include me.