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The Ideals for ‘Utopia' and Limitations of Russian Intelligentsia in Tom Stoppard's Trilogy The Coast of Utopia

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2017, 30(3), pp.33-62
  • DOI : 10.29163/jmed.2017.12.30.3.33
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Hye-Gyong Kwon 1

1동서대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The aim of this paper is to study the political ideals and limitations of Russian intelligentsia in the 19th century, centering on Tom Stoppard’s trilogy The Coast of Utopia. The Russian intelligentsia was armed with Western enlightenment ideals and aimed at liberating peasants from serfdom and tyranny and transforming Russia from a structural point of view. Being a thinker who inspired Stoppard to write this trilogy, Alexander Herzen is at the center of The Coast of Utopia. Chapter 2 analyzes the situation of the 19th century Russia, described in the first play Voyage. It also includes a grasp of the Russian manor system and the serfdom system under the Tsarist regime. The serfdom system in the 19th century Russia is an important basis for explaining the structural problems of the Russian society, such as the underdevelopment of capitalist production system, the backwardness in modern industrial development, and the absence of the citizen class. Chapter 3 focuses on the exchange of thoughts among Herzen and other intelligentsia, who had left their own countries and lived in Europe. In particular, I would like to discuss how the failure of the French Revolution of 1848 influenced Herzen’s ideological journey. Chapter 4 deals with Herzen’s life in exile in the UK, his Free Russia publishing activities, and the disagreement with the ’60s Russian political theorists. Herzen perceived the communistic elements, such as the principle of collective production and distribution, the centralization of power, and the negation of private property system, as monolithic, repressive and barbaric elements. Herzen, as well as Stankevich and Turgenev, all of whom are noble intelligentsia, was unable to sympathize with the radical ideas of communism. However, the Russian intelligentsia in 1840-50s became a good foundation for the birth of a new generation of the 1860s and further laid the foundation of the Russian communist revolution in the early 20th century. Through the trilogy, Stoppard tries to shape a new perspective on the 19th century Russian intelligentsia, especially on Herzen. The Russian intelligentsia he depicted is a “noble” human race that chose to liberate peasants and reform the repressive Tsarist system rather than live comfortably in their own identity and property. Furthermore, Stoppard grants a keen perception to Herzen who grasped the limits of the monolithic and repressive communist revolution.

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