Memoirs of a Revolutionist (Dover Books on History, Political and Social Science)

Memoirs of a Revolutionist (Dover Books on History, Political and Social Science)

Peter Kropotkin

Language: English

Pages: 608

ISBN: 0486473163

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Born into a wealthy family of landowners, Prince Peter Alexeivich Kropotkin (1842-1921) served in the court of the Tsar and held prestigious diplomatic posts. But the prince renounced his life of privilege to embrace nonviolent anarchism, a revolutionary alternative to Marxism. A leading theoretician of his day, Kropotkin wrote the basic books in the library of anarchism, prepared countless pamphlets and speeches, and worked tirelessly to subvert the class structure and promote a philosophy of collective action.  
In this autobiography, Kropotkin recounts his early life in the royal court and his military service in Siberia, along with his imprisonment, escape, and European exile. His portraits of nineteenth-century Russian life rival those of the great novelists, ranging from moving examples of the unbridgeable chasm between nobles and serfs to gripping scenes of midnight plots enacted outside the Kremlin’s walls. An eminent geographer and cartographer, Kropotkin also offers fascinating views from his explorations of Siberia. An Introduction and explanatory notes enhance this unabridged edition of a thrilling real-life story of idealism and adventure.

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steps, his swearing at the sentry, and the click of the key in the lock. He said something, and a feminine voice loudly replied: ‘We did not talk. I only asked him to call the non-commissioned officer.’ Then the door was locked, and I heard the colonel swearing in whispers at the sentry. So I was alone no more. I had a lady neighbour, who at once broke down the severe discipline which had hitherto reigned amongst the soldiers. From that day the walls of the fortress, which had been mute during

prisoners had to resort to the strike of death, the famine strike, to protect themselves from the brutality of the warders, or to obtain conditions — some sort of work, or reading, in their cells — that would save them from being driven into insanity in a few months. The horror of such strikes, during which men and women refused to take any food for seven or eight days in succession, and then lay motionless, their minds wandering, seemed not to appeal to the gendarmes. At Khárkoff, the prostrated

fashionable shops, and return quite radiant, bringing for his wife a bottle of exquisite perfume, for which he had paid a fancy price in a French shop, and announcing to his only daughter that a new velvet mantle — ’something very simple’ and very costly — would be sent for her to try on that afternoon. All our relatives, who were numerous on my father’s side, lived exactly in the same way: and if a new spirit occasionally made its appearance, it usually took the form of some religious passion.

conditions which prevailed under the ‘iron despot’ were near at hand. Poisoning was talked about, the more so as the Tsar’s body decomposed very rapidly, but the true reason only gradually leaked out: a too strong dose of an invigorating medicine that Nicholas had taken. In the country, during the summer of 1855, the heroic struggle which was going on in Sebastopol for every yard of ground and every bit of its dismantled bastions was followed with a solemn interest. A messenger was sent

gave him the impulse for further studies. We afterward discussed — and that discussion lasted for many years — various questions relative to the origin of variations, their chances of being transmitted and being accentuated; in short, those questions which have been raised quite lately in the Weismann-Spencer controversy, in Galton’s researches, and in the works of the modern Neo-Lamarckians. Owing to his philosophical and critical mind, Alexander had noticed at once the fundamental importance of

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