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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Russian History

Back in the day, I took a class in Russian history. I did a paper on the evolution of revolutionary action starting with the Decembrist revolt in 1825 up to the Communist take over in 1917. I had to read the paper to the class. On the night before having to read a paper full of Russian names I spent hours practicing their pronunciation. When the reading the paper I was doing about as best I could unitl I got to the Loris-Melikov document which was to be russia's first constitution guaranteening freedom of speach and press. The minister responsible for buring the document up and seeing to it that such freedoms were not allowed was Konstantine Pobedonetsev, a cousin of the Tsar or Czar (I prefer the latter spelling, but the former has become the official spelling). When I got to his name for the life of me I could not pronounce it. Scott Horton today posted this painting on his No Comment blog bringing back memories of over thirty years. This is what he says about the painting:

Ilya Repin prepared this study of Konstantin Pobedonostsev for one of his great pre-revolutionary works, the State Council. Pobedonostsev was the very definition of archconservative of the late Romanov era, a lawyer and Oberprokurator of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. Podedonostsev could be understood as the James Dobson of his age. He pushed the excommunication of Tolstoy for his “radical” views about Christianity, he denounced Western thought of his age as “dangerous” and “nihilistic” and particularly condemned Darwin. He detested the idea of democracy as rule by a “vulgar crowd,” and he despised and railed against legal reforms like the introduction of trial by jury and the introduction of press freedom. Many have seen in him the very model of Dostoevsky’s cardinal-inquisitor. That may be so, but in fact Pobedonostsev and Dostoevsky were good friends and correspondents. Very fittingly, Repin presents him as a man lacking eyes and dominated by his uniform.


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Oh, you had me laughing on this one, PM! I was able to pronounce the name aloud. But when I read "the James Dobson of his age", i almost fell off my chair! Well done! A tough subject written with humanity and I enjoyed it. We live in an age where people are often dominated by their titles where perhaps in the past they were dominated by their uniform. Quite revealing!