"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Romantic Nationalism

It is, as I have noted before, something of a commonplace that ethno-nationalism plays a rather large, and often deleterious, role in Eastern Christianity. Along comes a new book that looks at modern expressions of such nationalism in Eastern Europe: Serhiy Bilenky, Romantic Nationalism in Eastern Europe: Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian Political Imaginations (Stanford University Press, 2012), 408pp.
This book, the publisher tells us,
explores the political imagination of Eastern Europe in the 1830s and 1840s, when Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian intellectuals came to identify themselves as belonging to communities known as nations or nationalities. Bilenky approaches this topic from a transnational perspective, revealing the ways in which modern Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian nationalities were formed and refashioned through the challenges they presented to one another, both as neighboring communities and as minorities within a given community. Further, all three nations defined themselves as a result of their interactions with the Russian and Austrian empires. Fueled by the Romantic search for national roots, they developed a number of separate yet often overlapping and inclusive senses of national identity, thereby producing myriad versions of Russianness, Polishness, and Ukrainianness.

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