“a mysterious mixture of crackpot and genius”

 

 

“Harvard’s Pitirim Sorokin, 66, a Russian artisan’s son who became the first professor of sociology at the University of St. Petersburg and later at Harvard. Brash, brilliant young Sorokin ran away from his father at the age of nine (“My father was good man, except when he was drunk”), managed to get himself enough education to enter the University of St. Petersburg. A social revolutionary, he was arrested three times by the Czarist police, served as one of rested three more times by the Communists. Exiled in 1922, he soon came to the U.S., and with the publication of his monumental Social and Cultural Dynamics, a study of the fluctuations of “sensate” and “ideational” cultures, he set the academic world to wondering whether it had found a new Spengler. Today, a mysterious mixture of crackpot and genius, Pitirim Sorokin has his colleagues wondering still.”

 

— ‘Goodbye, Messrs. Chips,” Time, June 27, 1955, pp. 59-60

 

 

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Time magazine, it should be noted, was known and often parodied for its glib, snarky style.

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

February 2019

a Sorokin nemesis (Porter Sargent on Sorokin)

 

 

Caustic without being bitter is Boston’s white-thatched, bow-tied Porter Sargent. The saltiest commentator on U. S. education, from which he makes his living but for which he has a certain amused contempt, Porter Sargent prefaces his famed annual catalogue of 4,000 private schools with his shrewd opinions on men and affairs. Last week, in the 22nd edition of his Handbook of Private Schools, he threw most of his custard pies at the two most popular favorites of U. S. higher education —President James Bryant Conant of Harvard and President Robert Maynard Hutchins of University of Chicago.

President Conant, glooms Porter Sargent, started out as Harvard’s head “with the naivete and boldness of a scientist,” but soon “sacred cows were jostled” and today Conant has subsided “to the dead level of mass alumni opinion.” Sprightly, 66-year-old Porter Sargent criticizes President Conant most severely for keeping as head of Harvard’s sociology department Pitirim Alexandrovitch Sorokin, whom he calls a pseudo-scientist, a defeatist and a reactionary. “Harvard is maintaining him in a position of influence where he is misguiding and frustrating American youth. . . . The sociology department is the White Russian WPA.”
— “Plain Talker.” Time, May 30, 1938, pg. 39

 

 

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Porter Sargent (1872–1951) was a prominent educational critic/gadfly and founder of Porter Sargent Publishers. In 1949, he was described in an article in the Journal of Higher Education as “probably the most outstanding and consistent critic of the American educational scene.”

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   February 2019

Sorokin and Defoe (and Winston Churchill)

 

 

 

 

imageedit_1_2520341161.jpg

 

 

Daniel Defoe’s customary skill as a writer was to speak in the voices of others. His novels are only the most famous examples of the first-person accounts, memoirs, and polemics that he fabricated throughout his career. Memoirs of a Cavalier is a special example because it took the pursuit of authenticity–which is the standard of all Defoe’s novels–to its limits. So successfully did it mimic the voice of the seventeenth-century soldier of fortune who is its narrator, that for over half a century the memoirs were considered to be genuine. The struggle of this narrator to turn his observations into facts, to make a certain history of his uncertain experiences, was so well caught that, as one of its eighteenth-century editors declared, “tis a Romance the likest to Truth that I ever read’. It is this struggle, as much as the battles and adventures which comprise the Cavalier’s story, that gives this narrative its dramatic qualities.

 

— back cover copy; Daniel Defoe, Memoirs of a Cavalier, or a Military Journal of the Wars in Germany, and The Wars in England; From the Year 1632, to the Year 1648 (World’s Classics Edition; Oxford University Press 1991)

 

 

 

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In my post

 

“Sorokin” (“Сорокин”)

 

https://pitirimsorokin.com/2018/02/03/sorokin%d1%81%d0%be%d1%80%d0%be%d0%ba%d0%b8%d0%bd/

 

 

I wrote:

“Leaves from A Russian Diary,” which details Sorokin’s experiences as a revolutionary opponent of the Czarist government, an official in the short lived Kerensky government, and an anti-Bolshevik, was a work that I could not put down. It has a cogency and dramatic interest, being written at white heat, so to speak, that make it compelling. It reads live a novel, a sort of “Les Misérables” minus about a thousand pages. l feel that it is an underrated book and could never understand why it never achieved a wide readership. For me, it is the best book on the Russian Revolution, the only one I practically ever read about it, in fact. It made me feel what the revolution must have been like. I regard it as a classic, and I felt it was very well written, much more so than when Sorokin was writing as a scholar.

The analogy to Defoe, applied to Sorokin’s reminiscences of the February Revolution and it’s immediate aftermat, is very apt. I am happy to say that I have just recently interested a literarily minded friend in reading Leaves from a Russian Diary, a book I couldn’t put down.

 

 

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In his preface to The Second World War: The Gathering Storm (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1948), Winston S. Churchill wrote:

I have followed, as in previous volumes, as far as I am able, the method of Defoe’s Memoirs of a Cavalier, in which the author hangs the chronicle and discussion of great military and political events upon the thread of the personal experiences of an individual. I am perhaps the only man who has passed through both the two supreme cataclysms of recorded history in high Cabinet office. Whereas, however, in the First World War I filled responsible but subordinate posts, I was for more than five years in this second struggle with Germany the Head of His Majesty’s Government. I write, therefore, from a different standpoint and with more authority than was possible in my earlier books.

Precisely the same as Leaves from a Russian Diary. Both Sorokin and Churchill were participant-observers.

 
— Roger W. Smith

   February 2019

caricature of Sorokin lecturing

 

 

This caricature of Pitirim A. Sorokin lecturing at Harvard appeared in the Harvard Guardian, vol. II, no. 2 (November 1937), pg. 11.

 

 

caricature of Sorokin - Havard Guardian, Nov 1937.jpg

 

Yuri Doykov’s site (Сайт Юрия Дойкова)

 

 

Students of Russian history and scholars interested in Pitirim A. Sorokin and his cultural milieu may be interested to know that the Russian journalist and historian Yuri Doykov has a site.

 

http://doykov.com/category/blog/

 

There you will find information about and downloadable text from Doykov’s biography of Sorokin: Питирим Сорокин. Человек вне сезона (Pitirim Sorokin: A man out of season).

 

The site also contains posts focusing on Sorokin, for example, two recent ones:

 

 

ПИТИРИМ СОРОКИН И ЧЕКИСТ ЛИНДЕМАН…

 

http://doykov.com/blog/pitirim-sorokin-i-chekist-lindeman/

 

 

ПИТИРИМ СОРОКИН И ЛАРИСА РЕЙСНЕР…

 

http://doykov.com/blog/pitirim-sorokin-i-larisa-rejsner/

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

    June 2018

 

seeking translator for Sorokin biography / ищет переводчика для биографии Сорокина

 

 

Yuri Doykov, an independent journalist and historian based in Arkhangelsk, Russia has written several important books on Sorokin, including his two-volume biography Питирим Сорокин. Человек вне сезона (Pitirim Sorokin: A man out of season; 2008-2009).

Doykov’s work is the first real biography of Sorokin.

In 1996, the University Press of Kansas published Barry V. Johnston’s Pitirim A. Sorokin: An Intellectual Biography. The work is a valuable contribution to Sorokin studies, but it is not strictly a biography.

Given that most of Sorokin’s career was spent in the United States (and not minimizing the importance of his Russian years), it would be a great service to sociologists and social scientists in related fields to be have an English translation of Doykov’s biography available.

We are seeking responses from Russian scholars who would be willing to undertake a translation into English. Roger W. Smith is prepared to assist in preparation of the translation. While he is not qualified to undertake it himself, he has a working knowledge of Russian and professional editorial experience which would enable him to assist a translator and make the translation letter perfect in English.

We invite responses to either

 

Yuri Doykov

ydoikov@yahoo.com

or

Roger W. Smith

brandeis106@gmail.com

 

 

 

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Юрий Дойков, независимый журналист и историк из Архангельска, написал несколько важных книг о Сорокине, в том числе его двухтомную биографию: Питирим Сорокин. Человек вне сезона (2008-2009).

Работа Дойкова – первая настоящая биография Сорокина.

В 1996 году университетская пресса Канзаса опубликовала «Питирим А. Сорокин» Барри В. Джонстона: «Интеллектуальная биография». Работа является ценным вкладом в исследования Сорокина, но это не совсем биография.

Учитывая, что большая часть карьеры Соркина проводилась в Соединенных Штатах (и не сводя к минимуму важность его российских лет), это было бы отличным сервисом для социологов и социологов в смежных областях, чтобы иметь английский перевод биографии Дойкова.

Мы ищем ответы от российских ученых, которые хотели бы взять перевод на английский язык. Роджер У. Смит готов помочь в подготовке перевода. Несмотря на то, что он не имеет возможности самостоятельно заниматься этим, он имеет опыт работы с русским и профессиональным редакционным опытом, который позволил бы ему помочь переводчику и сделать переводное письмо совершенным на английском языке.

Мы приглашаем

Юрий Дойков

ydoikov@yahoo.com

или

Roger W. Smith

brandeis106@gmail.com

 

 

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Pitirim Sorokin. The Man out of Season

Contents

Volume 1

Chapter 1 Life of Sorokin before the First World War. 1889-1916

Chapter 2. Participation of Sorokin in the Russian Revolution and the Struggle against the Bolsheviks 1917-1918

Chapter 3 Sorokin’s work at Petrograd University and expulsion from Soviet Russia
on the orders of Lenin and Trotsky. 1919-1922

Volume 2

Chapter 1 Life of Sorokin in Prague.Czechoslovakia 1922-1923

Chapter 2 Sorokin’s work at the University of Minnesota 1923-1930

Chapter 3. Sorokin at Harvard 1930-1968

 

 

Питирим Сорокин. Человек вне сезона

Содержание

 

Том 1

Глава 1 Жизнь Сорокина до Первой мировой войны.1889-1916

Глава 2.Участие Сорокина в Русской революции и борьбе с большевиками 1917-1918

Глава 3 Работа Сорокина в Петроградском университете и высылка  из Советской России

по указанию Ленина и Троцкого. 1919-1922

 

Том 2

Глава1  Жизнь Сорокина в Праге.Чехословакия 1922-1923

Глава2 Работа Сорокина в университете Миннесоты 1923-1930

Глава 3. Сорокин в Гарварде 1930-1968

“Winchester Hillside Aglow With Azaleas, Grown by Harvard Professor”

 

 

‘Winchester Hillside Aglow with Azaleas’ – Boston Globe 5-23-1954

 

 

Posted here (above) as a PDF file:

“Winchester Hillside Aglow With Azaleas, Grown by Harvard Professor,” by George Talomis, Boston Globe, May 23, 1954, pg. A32

An article about Sorokin’s famous garden in his yard in Winchester, Massachusetts.