Three major waves of emigration from Soviet Russia followed the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the Russian Civil War. While emigrants in the first wave have been identified mainly with a vague notion of aristocratic taxi drivers, Robert Johnston, through a collective biography of the roughly 120,000 Russians who lived in France during 1920-45, in particular in Paris, shows that this first wave of Russian emigrants made a much more significant contribution to French life and to western knowledge of Russia. Paris was the capital of "Russia Abroad," the home of an emigre generation which included figures from every field of Russian culture and every point of the political compass. Divided and diverse, the community was bound together in the hope and expectation of the downfall of Bolshevism and a return to Mother Russia. Members of the community believed that their mission in Paris was to preserve Russian culture, language, and liberty, a task which required educating France and the West about the true dangers of Communism. As their time away from Russia increased, however, the exiles found it difficult to preserve their organizations and customs and to resist the assimilation of French ways. Gradually the original refugees died, moved away, or surrendered to French culture: by 1951 only 35,000 Russian refugees remained in all of France. The Russian exiles in Paris lived on the margins of history. But though politically defeated, their struggle to defend what they saw as worthwhile Russian values, their efforts to survive, and their contributions to the life of their country of refuge have something to say to a later age, not least to their exiled "grandchildren", the current third wave of emigrants from the USSR.
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
Number of pages: 270
Weight: 567 g
Dimensions: 235 x 159 x 19 mm