The cohorts of Vladimir dominated a court that was living out its age of Nero, whose ladies enjoyed the thrills of afternoon séances with the unwashed Rasputin. But Russia also had its Democrats and Liberals of the Duma, its Bakunin the Nihilist, its Prince Kropotkin who became an anarchist, its “intelligentsia” of whom the Czar said, “How I detest that word! I wish I could order the Academy to strike it from the Russian dictionary,” its Levins who agonized endlessly over their souls, socialism, and the soil, its Uncle Vanyas without hope, its particular quality that caused a British diplomat to conclude that “everyone in Russia was a little mad”—a quality called le charme slav, half nonchalance, half inefficiency, a kind of fin de siècle fecklessness that hung like a faint mist over the city on the Neva which the world knew as St. Petersburg and did not know was the Cherry Orchard.
Friday, October 19, 2018
A kind of fin de siècle fecklessness that hung like a faint mist over the city
From the Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman.