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 aftermath, 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

another rare Sorokin photo

 

 

 

 

 

Pitirim A. Sorokin 2-11-1959
Pitirim A. Sorokin speaking at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, February 11, 1959

This grainy photograph of Pitirim A. Sorokin was published in The Daily Collegian (Wayne State University) on February 12, 1959.

The day before, Sorokin had delivered a lecture to “an overcrowded lecture hall” on the Wayne State University campus on a topic he had addressed numerous times: mutual convergence of the Russian and American systems and values.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   October 2018

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

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

rare photo of Sorokin

 

 

Pitirim A. Sorokin 1926.jpg

 

 

One of my favorite Sorokin books, “Leaves from a Russian Diary,” was reviewed in the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune in 1926.

Sorokin was teaching at the University of Minnesota then.

The following photo of Sorokin appeared in the newspaper. It is one of the best photos of Sorokin I have seen, and to me it was entirely new.

 
— posted by Roger W. Smith

Sorokin sites

 

 

Visitors to this site will be interested to know of the following sites devoted to Pitirim A. Sorokin:

 

 

Pitirim A. Sorokin Foundation (USA)

 

http://cliffstreet.org/

 

 

 

The Pitirim A. Sorokin Foundation (in Russian)

 

http://pitirim.org/

 

This Russian site is maintained by Александр Долгов (Aleksandr Dolgov). Aleksandr and his site are on Facebook.

 

 

Фонд Питирима Сорокина / Pitirim A. Sorokin Foundation

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/pitirim.sorokin.foundation/

 

— Roger W. Smith

 

      July 2018; updated December 2020

“Denies U.S. Recognition Will Bring Soviet Trade” (article by Sorokin, Washington Post, 1922)

 

‘Denies U. S. Recognition Will Bring Soviet Trade’ (by Sorokin) – Washington Post 4-26-1925

 

333 ‘Denies U. S. Recognition Will Bring Soviet Trade’ (by Sorokin) – Washington Post 4-26-1925

 

Denies U.S. Recognition Will Bring Soviet Trade

By Pitirim Sorokin

The Washington Post

April 26, 1925, pg. 3

 

The entire article is posted (above) as a PDF file and in my own transcription as a Word document.

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

my Sorokin books

 

my Sorokin books

 

The attached Word document (above) contains an inventory of books by and about Pitirim A. Sorokin in my personal home library.

 

— Roger W. Smith

    August 2021