Michail Bakunin Zycie I mysl [Mikhail Bakunin. Life and thought].

Author:Chwedoruk, Rafal
Position:Book review

Antoni A. Kaminski, Michail Bakunin Zycie I mysl [Mikhail Bakunin. Life and thought]

Wroclaw: University of Economy Press, 2012, vol. I: 1814-1848 & vol. II: 1848-1864. ISBN 978-8370112604.

In Poland in 2012 and 2013 two volumes were published of the planned three-volume biography entitled Mikhail Bakunin. Life and thought. The author is Polish philosopher from the University of Economics in Wroclaw, Dr. Antoni A. Kaminski (b. 1947). The work is academic in nature. It is the first Polish academic biography of Bakunin and will probably be the longest biography of him ever published. It is impressive in its remarkable clarity and detail, and the volumes that extend to 736 and 542 pages include a separate life calendar and illustrations.

The author has used sources in several different languages. Among the archival collections, he used both the most important Polish archives and lesser-known local archive collections in Kornik in western Poland. The foreign archives included draft manuscripts from the Russian State Library. In addition, academic studies, articles, and memoirs in several languages were used. The bibliography for the two volumes covers 150 pages!

One of the chief academic merits of the work is its discussion of the historiography of Bakunin, to which almost sixty pages are devoted. The author recalls that most biographies have been written by supporters of anarchism. He has determined that documents devoted to Bakunin may be found in about forty archives in different countries (and some of the legacy has disappeared completely). This is not by chance--after all, Bakunin lived in over a dozen countries and was in prison in several, and he wrote in four languages and has been translated into over a dozen. For the non-Polish reader, or even those not from Eastern Europe, one innovation may be the information about Bakunin's Polish and Russian scientific and political works. Works written from political positions dominate. It was a Pole by birth--Antonina Kwiatkowska--who in 1878 initiated the first biography, never finished due to financial reasons. It should be noted that it was in Poland in 1965--the first country in the Soviet bloc after the Second World War--that the works of Bakunin were published, as was the study Bakunin and the Contradictions of Freedom by Hanna Temkinowa. Further, a short biography of Bakunin was published in interwar Poland in Yiddish (and another was translated into that language). The author also...

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