Matt's Reviews > To the Finland Station

To the Finland Station by Edmund Wilson
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's review
Feb 12, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: top-shelf, worldly-lit, literary-crit, underrated-lost-classics, historyonics-world, red-menace, nyrb
Read in October, 2005

Badass. Encyclopedic in the right way. Every few pages tells the story of another character in the drama of European Socialism. The stories are well worth knowing, and reading.

Got to lose a star on account of Wilson's having been sucked into taking Lenin to be a better man than he actually was. And for the Russian Revolution to have been better than it actually was.

But. It doesn't really matter. Wilson is mostly a careful scholar and an amazing teller of this gigantic moment in modern history. You learn Marx, Engels, and so on with ease and fervor. It makes a lot of sense, the way he explains it.

He learned German to read Hegel in the original to study him to get better background on Marx (!) and he learned Russian (an exceptionally hard language to learn, I'm told) in order to get to the quick. Brilliant scholarship from one of the few real men of letters this country has ever had.

Funny thing- in the introduction Louis Menand says that Wilson didn't know what he was talking about when he writes about Hegel. Imagine! The thing is, my philosophy professors told me that the Hegel Wilson explains is actually perfectly fine. I figure that Hegel is complex enough that there are going to be a million different interpreations of it, so Wilson can be given a pass. tough to read that, though, and then try and take him seriously.

but, without question, this is a powerful story transcendantly well told and with accuracy aplenty. So worth reading its not even funny.

It'll make you get more into Marx, and if that's something that appeals to you as a reader I can't think of a better intro.

One of the best books I have ever read. Amazing. Colorful. Rich. Beautiful. Sublime.
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