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Nicolas Berdyaev

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message 1: by Tom (new)

Tom Anyone here familiar with writing of Nicolas Berdyaev? In particular, I'm curious about difference between "The Divine and the Human" and "Meaning of the Creative Act." Based on Amazon product blurbs, there appears to be some thematic overlap (with Meaning of Creative Act coming first), but I'm wondering how much? Is the former an extension of ideas in latter?

I made it through B's The Beginning and the End a few years ago, but I can't say I retained a lot or enough to summarize coherently. One of those works that seems fascinating in small doses but mystifying in the whole.


message 2: by Frankie (new)

Frankie (fran_kie) | 37 comments I've heard his name mentioned in regards to existentialism, but never had a closer look at him until just now when looking up his name on wikipedia. I am curious. I see he wrote a work on Dostoevsky. How readable are the translations?


message 3: by Tom (last edited Sep 02, 2010 11:21AM) (new)

Tom Greetings R. My copy of Beginning and End is translated by R. M. French (an unfamiliar name to me). In looking back over my annotations, I should retract my comment about B's work being "mystifying." Actually, it's quite readable, with a discernible conceptual thread that's not terribly difficult to follow, given the fairly dense and abstract nature of the material. In the unfortunate nature of much philosophical work, the writing is rather flat, devoid of vivid personality behind the words. (Plato, he ain't.) But no matter the swerve and curve of one's philosophical / spiritual bent, the material is quite interesting.

Yes, I too came across listing of B's book on Dostoevsky. I imagine that the connection between it and B's other books must be pretty strong. I first encountered B through a reading group back in Michigan (I now live in NC) led by a former college mentor that focuses on works of philosophical-psychological-spiritual nature. The last few years, on and off, they've been working their way through a number of B's books. This year they're following up B's Divine and Human with D's Bros. K. The sequencing is not coincidental, I'm sure. If you're curious, you could look the reading group, The Michigan Institute of Existential Metapsychology, led by Ron Puhek, a retired political science prof from MSU. (don't be put off by the fancy name; they are a dedicated but highly informal group of readers, comprised mostly of former students of Ron's and long-standing friends in the community, none of whom are academics.) Here's the link: https://www.msu.edu/~puhek/


message 4: by Frankie (last edited Oct 05, 2010 06:13AM) (new)

Frankie (fran_kie) | 37 comments Thanks Tom! I regret that I didn't see this until now. My thread alert must've been filtered. I just happened to check the group and saw your reply. I'll check out the book club. Speaking of weighty philosophy, I just finished Rousseau's Confessions and I think I should confine myself to more recent centuries. See my review for a detailed account of my irritation. I'm glad to have read it though. Please keep me updated if you read more Berdyaev.


message 5: by Steve (new)

Steve Evans (steveevansofpahiatua) | 6 comments Hello...this thread is old but thought I'd send a message anyway...

Virtually all Berdyaev's books are available in print in English now, and there is rather a lot of them. They all overlap to some degree though some are more "philosophical" in their own right while others deal in the ideas of others as it were. The Origins of Russian Communism and The Russian Idea for example, fall into the latter group. Sometimes they are quite hard to understand; I've been reading Berdyaev for more than twenty years and repeated readings bring out something new in almost everything he wrote.

Berdyaev could be regarded as the next in line in the prophetic tradition Khomyiakov-Dostoevsky-Soloviov. For that tradition see Three Russian Prophets by Nicolas Zernov - it's old but is in print, or I think it is. It is very good actually. Berdyaev's Dostoevsky is also worth reading; it is partly a rave, but is very inspiring.

My favourite Berdyaev books are The Russian Tradition, Spirit and Reality, Slavery and Freedom, and The Divine and the Human. Destiny of Man is difficult in places but has an index. But everyone will have his favourites. He seems to have become something of a flavour of the month lately and you can find his journal articles online and free through a google search. His books were almost all out of print ten years ago but have come back with a rush.


message 6: by Frankie (new)

Frankie (fran_kie) | 37 comments Good stuff Steve. I hope to get to a place soon where I can read Berdyaev. I have a lot of biographies on Dostoevsky so I'll probably start there.


message 7: by Tom (new)

Tom Never to late to return Berdyaev, Steve. After a recent move and unpacking of books, I came across my copy of Beginning and End and thought, 'oh, yeah, Berdyaev, need to read some more of this guy.' Thanks for the reminder and literary-historical context. Helpful stuff.


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