Interpreting the Russian Revolution
The Language and Symbols of 1917
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The book explores how key words and symbols took on different meanings in various social and political contexts. 'Democracy', 'the people', or 'the working class', for example, could define a wide range of identities and moral worlds in 1917. In addition to such ambiguities, cultural tensions further complicated the revolutionary struggles. Figes and Kolonitskii consider the fundamental clash between the Western political discourse of the socialist parties and the traditional political culture of the Russian masses. They show how the particular conditions and perceptions that coloured Russian politics in 1917 led to the emergence of the cult of the revolutionary leader and the culture of the Terror.
Orlando Figes was Professor of History at Birkbeck College, London. He is the author of 'Peasant Russia', 'Civil War' and 'A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924'.
Boris Kolonitskii was Senior Researcher at the Institute of History of the Academcy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.