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Michail Ryklin

Spaces for Celebration - Totalitarianism and Difference

(German title: Räume des Jubels)
ca. 238 pages
Paperback
2003
Michail Ryklin
Foto: Michail Ryklin
© Jürgen Bauer

Michail Ryklin was born in Leningrad in 1948 and now lives in Berlin and Moscow. He is the most prominent contemporary thinker in Russia, and the only intellectual with an equally intense first-hand knowledge of life in Western culture and in the Russian context.
A former assistant to Jacques Derrida in Paris, he is now a professor at the Institute of Philosophy at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Michael Ryklin is awarded the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding 2007.

 

 

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About

Moscow-based philosopher Michail Ryklin is the most prominent contemporary thinker in Russia, and the only intellectual with an equally intense first-hand knowledge of life in Western culture and in the Russian context. A former assistant to Jacques Derrida in Paris, he is now a professor at the Institute of Philosophy at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow.

Ryklin's book about the »Spaces of Celebration« is one of the most impressive attempts to tackle this subject. In a most productive exploration of the various Western theories on totalitarianism since Hannah Arendt, Ryklin contrasts and compares the »logic of terror« common to the two totalitarian systems of the 20th century: namely National Socialism and Stalinism.

This volume of essays has an unusual structure: it begins with the deeply moving account of Ryklin's mother's story who experienced the terror first hand. In the second section of the book, Ryklin examines the discussions surrounding such key Soviet issues as the construction of the Moscow metro, the WDNCh Exhibition of the Achievements of the Russian Economy, or the dramatic urban redevelopment in the 1930s, when downtown Moscow underwent grandiose construction work with an eye to making it the capital of the world revolution. The third section addresses writings on political ideology such as the famous reports or diaries of Western travelers (Gide and Benjamin, among others), and the ongoing debate on the relationship between revolutionary, artistic avant-garde (e.g., Chlebnikov, Malevich) and its instrumentalization for propaganda purposes during the 1930s.

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