By Robert K. Massie
The Pulitzer Prize–winning writer of Peter the good, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with one other masterpiece of narrative biography, the intense tale of an imprecise younger German princess who traveled to Russia at fourteen and rose to develop into the most extraordinary, robust, and desirable ladies in history.
Born right into a minor noble family members, Catherine remodeled herself into Empress of Russia by way of sheer decision. owning an excellent brain and an insatiable interest as a tender girl, she wolfed the works of Enlightenment philosophers and, while she reached the throne, tried to exploit their rules to lead her rule of the massive and backward Russian empire. She knew or corresponded with the preeminent old figures of her time: Voltaire, Diderot, Frederick the good, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Marie Antoinette, and, unusually, the yankee naval hero, John Paul Jones.
Reaching the throne fired through Enlightenment philosophy and decided to develop into the embodiment of the “benevolent despot” idealized by way of Montesquieu, she stumbled on herself regularly contending with the deeply ingrained realities of Russian existence, together with serfdom. She persisted, and for thirty-four years the govt., international coverage, cultural improvement, and welfare of the Russian humans have been in her fingers. She handled household uprising, international wars, and the tidal wave of political switch and violence churned up via the French Revolution that swept throughout Europe. Her attractiveness depended fullyyt at the viewpoint of the speaker. She used to be praised via Voltaire because the equivalent of the best of classical philosophers; she used to be condemned by way of her enemies, commonly overseas, as “the Messalina of the north.”
Catherine’s kin, acquaintances, ministers, generals, fans, and enemies—all are the following, vividly defined. those incorporated her bold, eternally scheming mom; her susceptible, bullying husband, Peter (who left her mendacity untouched beside him for 9 years after their marriage); her unsatisfied son and inheritor, Paul; her liked grandchildren; and her “favorites”—the parade of younger males from whom she sought companionship and the recapture of teenage in addition to intercourse. the following, too, is the enormous determine of Gregory Potemkin, her most important lover and attainable husband, with whom she shared a passionate correspondence of affection and separation, by means of seventeen years of extraordinary mutual achievement.
The tale is beautifully instructed. the entire targeted traits that Robert okay. Massie delivered to Nicholas and Alexandra and Peter the Great are current the following: ancient accuracy, intensity of knowing, felicity of favor, mastery of element, skill to shatter fable, and a unprecedented genius for locating and expressing the human drama in amazing lives.
History bargains few tales richer in drama than that of Catherine the good. during this publication, this perpetually interesting lady is lower back to lifestyles.
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Additional info for Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman
Suvorin's newspaper, Novoe vremya (New Times) 12 , during which she wrote on the latest achievements in science and technology: the flying machine, the typewriting machine, the telephone, solar heaters, the newest researches at the Pasteur Institute. She also attended the celebrated trial of the "One Hundred Ninety-three" (mainly of students who had taken part in the movement "to the people" during the summer of 187 4), and collected material which she later used in her novel A Nihilist Girl. The second activity was her partici22 Introduction pation in 1878 in organizing the "Higher Courses for Women" envisaged by its founders as the nucleus of a women's university.
Back in Stockholm for the beginning of the academic year, she finished the manuscript within the next few months. A translator was found to put it into Swedish, and it was read aloud, chapter by chapter, to a group of close friends. In deference to the easily shocked sensibilities of Swedish society, it was decided to issue the book as a novel with the title The Rajevski Sisters. It was an enormous success. It appeared in Russia in its original form during the following year. In the same period, Kovalevskaya finished the prologue and part of the first chapter of a novel she had been thinking about since 1886: Vae Victis (Woe to the Vanquished).
Embarrassed as I am to admit it, that bad 48 Earliest Memories pun of the sexton's remained with me and initiated an era of my existence. From it my chronology begins, the earliest appearance inside me of a distinct self-awareness: who I am, what is my place in the world. As I think back over it now, I believe that I must have been two or three years old at the time, and that the episode took place in Moscow, where I was born. My father served in the artillery and we often had to move from city to city, following after him as his work demanded.
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie