15 MAY 1936, Page 40


By Fedor Stepan

As a consequence of the persecution to which the majority of the Russian intelligentsia have been subjected since the Revolution, some of the most profound of Russian thinkers, in exile, have founded the " Novi Grad," a group to which Fedor Stepun belongs. But to interpret The Russian Soul and Revolution (Scribner, Os.) as White Russian, because it is not pro-Bolshevik, would be maliciously to pervert its truth ; it is based upon a Christian understanding to which no existing state corresponds. It describes the effects of Western ideas on Holy, Theocratic Russia. Pre-revolutionary Russia was governed on a theory of Christian liberty which assumed the spiritual perfection of the monarchs ; in practice it degenerated into anarchistic despotism. At the same time Western Europe was developing what Russia lacked : liberty maintained by law. The Russian intelligentsia, by temperament religious, turned Western ideas into extremist gospels and tried to effect everything practically withOut sufficient critical examination. This attitude was intensified by official persecution. Unfortunately the defects in the Russian system were so great that gradual, non-violent reform became impossible and the Bolsheviks strangled the Russian religious spirit. The Russian Sciul and,Revolution is a pip- found study of the ideas forming the inner conflicts of Russian history leading up to the-revolution ; it is a warning to all ruling classes that though divine fury 'may be blind in its destructiveness it is not without .eguse., A secondary valiie of the book is the background it provides for our under- standing of the Russian novelists. It is worth buying for this atone.