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New Israel Counters Napoleon

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The Religious Language of Russian Poets in 1812

image of Russian History

Russian poets during the reign of Alexander I widely employed images and stories from Old Testament Scriptures to describe the ongoing wars with Napoleon, especially regarding the invasion of 1812. Their ideas are collected in a body of patriotic literature, which has received little attention for its literary merits but provides insight into the contemporary climate of opinion and the ways in which Russians responded to the French Revolution and Napoleon. Across Europe, other writers and intellectuals exhibited millenarian tendencies, seeking a renewed world with the old order swept away. While Russian writers exhibited similar concerns with finding a way to regenerate the decadent European world, they did so by appealing to their own experience as expiation for Europe’s sins. This study argues that the Napoleonic Wars catalyzed the development of Romantic Nationalism and the development of a messianic national myth, which arose primarily in Moscow after its destruction in 1812.

Affiliations: 1: Moscow, Russia


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