Alexander Radishchev

Alexander Radishchev

Infobox Writer
name = Aleksandr Nikolayevich Radishchev

image_size = thumb
caption = Earlier than 1790. By unknown author
birthdate = birth date|1749|8|31|mf=y
birthplace = Moscow, Russian Empire
deathdate = death date and age|1802|9|24|1749|8|31|mf=y
deathplace = Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
occupation = Writer
spouse =
parents =
children =

Aleksandr Nikolayevich Radishchev ( _ru. Алекса́ндр Никола́евич Ради́щев) (August 31, 1749–September 24, 1802) was a Russian author and social critic who was arrested and exiled under Catherine the Great. He brought the tradition of radicalism in Russian literature to prominence with the publication in 1790 of his "Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow". His depiction of socio-economic conditions in Russia earned him exile to Siberia until 1797.

Radishchev was born into a minor noble family on an estate just outside of Moscow. His youth was spent with a relative in Moscow, where he was allowed to spend time at the newly established Moscow University. His family connections provided him with an opportunity to serve as a page in Catherine's court, where his exceptional service and intellectual capabilities set him apart. Because of his exceptional academic promise, Radishchev was chosen of one of a dozen young students to be sent abroad to acquire Western learning. For several years he studied at at the University of Leipzig. His foreign education influenced his approach to Russian society, and upon his return he hoped to incorporate Enlightenment philosophies such as natural law and the social contract to Russian conditions. He lauded revolutionaries like George Washington and praised the early stages of the French Revolution. His most famous work - "A Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow" - is a critique of Russian society. He was especially critical of serfdom and the limits to personal freedom imposed by the autocracy.

Catherine the Great read the work, viewed Radishchev's calls for reform as evidence of Jacobin-style radicalism, and ordered copies of the text confiscated and destroyed. He was arrested and condemned to death. This sentence was later commuted to exile to Siberia, though before his exile he underwent both physical and psychological torture. He was freed by Catherine's successor Tsar Paul, and attempted again to push for reforms in Russia's government. Under the reign of Alexander I, Radishchev was briefly employed to help revise Russian law, a realization of his lifelong dream. Unfortunately, his tenure in this administrative body was short and unsuccessful. In 1802 a despondent Radishchev - possibly threatened with another Siberian exile - committed suicide by drinking poison.

ee also

*Nikolay Novikov
*the Decembrists

NAME= Radishchev, Aleksandr Nikolayevich
DATE OF BIRTH=August 31, 1749
DATE OF DEATH=September 24, 1802

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