Tom Stoppard, The Coast of Utopia (London: Faber and Faber, 2002)
Part I: Voyage
Part II: Shipwreck
Part III: Salvage
In a recent article in the London Review of Books, Perry Anderson sang a dirge over the decaying corpse of the Russian liberal intelligentsia. A “spirit of opposition…had defined the Russian intelligentsia since the 19th century—and for long periods [had] been its virtual raison d'être…whatever its internal disputes, [it] had always taken its role as Kulturträger for granted” (8). But then in the early 1990s it helped to saw off the branch it was sitting on, and plunged itself, unwittingly, into an economic and cultural abyss. It had used its cultural clout to support and legitimate Yeltsin's market reforms. The result was the decimation of all the institutions, from universities to film studios and the press, which had guaranteed the intelligentsia's existence and enabled it—not just despite, but because of the censorship—to maintain its role as the late Soviet system's permanent and often salaried opposition.