"Strength made perfect in weakness…"
“At last, Russia has begun to speak in a truly original voice.” So said Anatoly Vaneev, a Soviet dissident who became Karsavin’s disciple in the Siberian gulag where the philosopher spent his last two years. The book traces the unusual trajectory of this inspiring voice: Karsavin started his career as Russia’s brightest historian of Catholic mysticism; however, his radical methods – which were far ahead of their time – shocked his conservative colleagues. The shock continued when Karsavin turned to philosophy, writing flamboyant and dense essays in a polyphonic style, which both Marxists and religious traditionalists found provocative. There was no let-up after he was expelled by Lenin from Soviet Russia: in exile, he became a leading theorist in the Eurasian political movement, combining Orthodox theology with a left-wing political orientation. Finally, Karsavin found stability when he was invited to teach history in Lithuania: there he spent twenty years reworking his philosophy, before suffering the German and Soviet invasions of his new homeland, and then deportation and death. Clearing away misunderstandings and putting the work and life in context, this book shows how Karsavin made an original contribution to European philosophy, inter-religious dialogue, Orthodox and Catholic theology, and the understanding of history.
An evolution of attitudes towards pre-Christian custom in , North-West Europe, as shown in early .medieval word-fields and texts in Old English and Old Icelandic literature, is represented in six variously focussed studies. The first three chapters, Pagan Words, form a network of research on pre-Christian concepts of mind and soul as they survived, still active, in Christianized heroic poetry. This was part of. the heathen matrix through which the first expressions of Christianity in Old English and Icelandic literature were possible. The second half of this book, Christian Meanings, shows .how the same Christian literature produced reinterpretations of paganism. The literary range stretches from the earliest epic formulae to the polished genealogical novels of thirteenth-century Iceland- An ancient tradition of augury is invoked by the poet of The Seafarer to illustrate a believer's passage to heaven. In Havamal, an artificially pagan creed of ritual teaching and responses is compiled in Iceland as an antiquarian entertainment, perhaps on a Christian model. The last chapter shows a variety of Christian interpretations of, paganism in four sagas of Icelanders from the early to late thirteenth century. Overall where paganism was concerned, the tendency was first to cast off a way of life, then later, when that life was lost forever, to reinvent it for the imagination.