Landmarks Revisited: The Vekhi Symposium One Hundred Years On

Landmarks Revisited: The Vekhi Symposium One Hundred Years On

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Edited by Robin Aizlewood & Ruth Coates

Series: Cultural Revolutions: Russia in the Twentieth Century
ISBN: 9781618112866 (hardcover), 9781618118288 (paperback)
Pages: 324 pp.
Publication Date: December 2013

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The Vekhi (Landmarks) symposium (1909) is one of the most famous publications in Russian intellectual and political history. Its fame rests on the critique it offers of the phenomenon of the Russian intelligentsia in the period of crisis that led to the 1917 Russian Revolution. It was published as a polemical response to the revolution of 1905, the failed outcome of which was deemed by all the Vekhi contributors to exemplify and illuminate fatal philosophical, political, and psychological flaws in the revolutionary intelligentsia that had sought it. Landmarks Revisited offers a new and comprehensive assessment of the symposium and its legacy from a variety of disciplinary perspectives by leading scholars in their fields. It will be of compelling interest to all students of Russian history, politics, and culture, and the impact of these on the wider world.

Robin Aizlewood holds an honorary position at UCL, having been director of UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, and also of the inter-university Centre for East European Language-Based Area Studies. He is the author of two books on Maiakovskii’s verse (Verse Forma and Meaning in the Poetry of Vladimir Maiakovskii, 1989, and Two Essays on Maiakovskii’s Verse, 2000) and a wide range of studies of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russian philosophy and literature, both prose and poetry.

Ruth Coates is senior lecturer in Russian studies at the University of Bristol, UK. She is the author of Christianity in Bakhtin: God and the Exiled Author, 1998, and numerous articles on the Russian intellectual tradition. She is currently researching the reception of the doctrine of deification in Russian culture, with an emphasis on the late imperial period.


The volume is particularly strong on emphasizing the centrality of religion to these Russian thinkers and their thought systems, and the considerations of Vekhi’s contributors on the ‘inner self’: a privileged realm separate from politics and vulgar materialism. As with Vekhi itself, the essays in this collection have many interesting things to say on the role of the intelligentsia and its relationship to wider society, and how both Russian liberals and neo-Slavophiles championed ‘inner freedom’, against what they saw as the crude didacticism of the revolutionary intelligentsia. This volume is, therefore, a solid accompaniment to the original volume of 1909, and will prove useful to those interested in Russian intellectual history, political philosophy and the relationship between religious and political thought in the late imperial period.
— George Gilbert. Balliol College, University of Oxford, UK, European History Quarterly, Vol. 45 No. 2
The various scholarly articles, some of which feature fresh research, others reassessments in the context of contemporary European political thought or of the Russian political, sociological and religious tradition past and present, and still others in-depth examinations of the polemics aroused by the 1909 publication, combine effectively to point up the compendium’s continued resonance for today’s readers.
— Avril Pyman, University of Durham, in “Rereading the ‘Signposts’,” Slavonic and East European Review, 92, 4, 2014
Vekhi (1909) was a collection of essays by major Russian thinkers who set out to examine and challenge the boundaries between social thought, epistemology, religion, and law. In its wide-ranging and stimulating papers, the present volume offers a rich and helpful contextualization of this important work and ponders its impact on later decades in political and moral philosophy.
— Galin Tihanov, George Steiner Professor of Comparative Literature, Queen Mary, University of London
The chapters of Landmarks Revisited are of a uniformly high level of scholarship and sophistication. It will be profitably read by anyone with an interest in the intellectual, philosophical, and religious life of Russia in the early twentieth century.
— David G. Rowley (University of Wisconsin-Plattevile) for The Russian Review, July 2014 (Vol. 73, No. 3)

Table of Contents

by Robin Aizlewood, Ruth Coates, and Evert van der Zweerde

Part I: Vekhi and the Russian Intelligentsia

1. Word Games? The Russian “Intelligentsia” as a Question of Semantics
by Frances Nethercott
2. Perversions and Transformations: A. S. Izgoev and the Intelligentsia Debates, 1904–22
by Stuart Finkel
3. The Intelligentsia Fights Back: The Left-wing Response to Vekhi and its Significance
by Christopher Read

Part II: Vekhi and Political Philosophy
4. The Rise of the People and the Political Philosophy of the Vekhi Authors
by Evert van der Zweerde
5. Individual Freedom and Social Justice: Bogdan Kistiakovskii’s Defense of the Law
by Vanessa Rampton
6. Russian Political Theology in an Age of Revolution
by Randall A. Poole

Part III: Vekhi and the Russian Intellectual Tradition
7. Chaadaev and Vekhi
by Robin Aizlewood
8. Lev Tolstoi, Petr Struve and the “Afterlife” of Vekhi
by G. M. Hamburg
9. Aleksei Losev and Vekhi: Strategic Traditions in Social Philosophy
by Elena Takho-Godi

Part IV: Vekhi and the Russian Religious Renaissance
10. Inside Out: Good, Evil, and the Question of Inspiration
by Oliver Smith
11. D. S. Merezhkovskii Versus the Vekhi Authors
by Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal
12. Feuerbach, Kant, Dostoevskii: The Evolution of “Heroism” and “Asceticism” in Bulgakov’s Work to 1909
by Ruth Coates

List of Contributors