Beginning in the eighteenth century with the building of St. Petersburg and culminating with the Soviet regime, Figes examines how writers, artists, and musicians grappled with the idea of Russia itself--its character, spiritual essence, and destiny. Skillfully interweaving the great works--by Dostoevsky, Stravinsky, and Chagall--with folk embroidery, peasant songs, religious icons, and all the customs of daily life, Figes reveals the spirit of ""Russianness"" as rich and uplifting, complex and contradictory--and more lasting than any Russian ruler or state.
""Scintillating. . .an exceptional history of Russian culture and a joy to read."" --San Francisco Chronicle
""Stunning and ambitious. . .Figes captures nothing less than Russians' complex and protean notions regarding their national identity."" --The Atlantic Monthly
“Staggering. . .A vivid, entertaining, and enlightening account of what it has meant to be culturally a Russian over the last three centuries."" --Los Angeles Times
""[A] masterly work."" --New York Review of Books
""A big, bold, interpretative cultural history."" --Foreign Affairs