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The Europeans: Three Lives and the Making of a Cosmopolitan Culture

Orlando Figes

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Hardback

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Allen Lane
19 September 2019
History of art & design styles: c 1800 to c 1900; Ballet; Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900 ; History; European history; Social & cultural history
The Europeans is both a highly original, panoramic account of how in the 19th century huge aesthetic, economic, technological and legal changes created, for the first time, a genuinely pan-European culture - and an intimate story of a great singer, Pauline Viardot, a great writer, Ivan Turgenev, and a great connoisseur, Pauline's husband Louis. Their passionate, ambitious lives caught up an astonishing array of writers, composers and painters all trying to navigate through an ever more prosperous, demanding and international culture. This culture - through trains, telegraphs and printing - allowed artists of all kinds to create a precarious but real living, shuttling back and forth, from the British Isles to Imperial Russia.

The Europeans is Orlando Figes' masterpiece. Surprising, beautifully written, it describes huge events through intimate details, little-known stories and through the lens of Turgenev and the Viardots' touching, strange love triangle. Events which we now see as central to European high culture are made completely fresh, allowing the reader to revel in the sheer precariousness with which the great salons, premiers and bestsellers came into existence.
By:   Orlando Figes
Imprint:   Allen Lane
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 39mm
Weight:   1.029kg
ISBN:   9780241004890
ISBN 10:   0241004896
Pages:   576
Publication Date:   19 September 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Orlando Figes is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of Peasant Russia, Civil War, A People's Tragedy, Natasha's Dance, The Whisperers, Crimea and Just Send Me Word. His work has won a number of major prizes and been translated into some twenty different languages.

Reviews for The Europeans: Three Lives and the Making of a Cosmopolitan Culture

Magnificent -- Praise for NATASHA'S DANCE * Guardian * Written beautifully, with striking wit, joie de vivre and learning worn lightly... this superb, flamboyant and masterful tour d'horizon is fun, anecdotal and fascinating, colourful and playful. -- Praise for NATASHA'S DANCE * Financial Times * I loved the book. I read it in every spare moment, fascinated and sometimes surprised. All of the principal characters are inspiring, but The Europeans also shows the struggles and backbiting and mistakes which can also lie behind a repertoire we tend to take for granted. I have been speaking about the book to everyone I know: it is clearly not just a book for musicians but for the widest audience interested in literature, music and art. -- Barbara Hannigan Extraordinary ... It is a world of cultural sophistication and emotional complexity played out against a backdrop of breath-taking economic and technological progress. -- Lesley Chamberlain * Financial Times * Figes's knowledge is breath-taking in its range and precision ... A conclusion to draw from The Europeans is that tribalism is stronger than art ... This a melancholy reflection, but it accentuates, rather than reduces, the value of Figes's tumultuously informative and educative work. -- John Carey * Sunday Times * A timely, brilliant and hugely enjoyable book ... A magnificently humane book, written with supple grace but firmly underpinned by meticulous scholarship. -- Rupert Christiansen * Sunday Telegraph * Remarkable ... Orlando Figes is a fine historian who combines scholarly detail with readability. His wide-ranging book touches on a multitude of subjects. But at its heart is a love triangle - the very human story of three remarkable individuals whose lives he has resurrected with great sympathy and insight. -- Nick Rennison * Daily Mail * The Europeans is a massively impressive work, as enjoyable as it is knowledgeable, full of insights into the mechanisms of history and in the people who make it. It is a book about the making of Europe, and this description, wonderful as it is, has now, in these days, sadly, also almost a utopian quality to it. Orlando Figes is an outstanding historian and writer, he brings distant history so close that you could feel its heartbeat. He did it with the Russian Revolution in A People's Tragedy, and he does it again in The Europeans. -- Karl Ove Knausgaard [There are] a multitude of fascinating pieces of information to be gleaned from Orlando Figes's magisterial and wide-ranging book The Europeans ... Relevant, trenchant and searching. -- William Boyd * The Guardian * It plunged me into another world. I learned so much and was carried away by the intelligence and fluidity of the style - a combination which is unbeatable. -- Antonia Fraser Magnificent and utterly gripping: European identity, culture and commerce through the lives of three remarkable individuals, the book for our times. -- Philippe Sands Magnificent. Beautifully written, immaculately researched and thoroughly absorbing from start to finish. A tour de force that explains how Europe's cultural life transformed during the course of the 19th century - and so much more. -- Peter Frankopan


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