Konstantin Sergeyevich Aksakov

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AKSAKOV, KONSTANTIN SERGEYEVICH

(18171860), Slavophile ideologue and journalist.

Konstantin Aksakov was a member of one of the most famous literary families in nineteenth-century Russia. His father was the well-known theater critic and memoirist Sergei Aksakov; his brother, Ivan Aksakov, was an important publicist in the 1860s and 1870s.

During his university years in the early 1830s, Konstantin Aksakov was a member of the Stankevich Circle, along with Mikhail Bakunin and Vissarion Belinsky. He underwent a period of apprenticeship to Hegel, but, like several other Slavophiles, was most influenced by his immediate family circle, which was the source of the communal values he was to espouse and the dramatic division in his thought between private and public.

Toward the end of the 1830s Aksakov drew close to Yury Samarin, and both of them fell under the direct influence of Alexei Khomyakov. Aksakov's Hegelianism proved a passing phase; he evolved into the most determinedly utopian and ideologically minded of all the early Slavophiles. A passionate critic of statist historical interpretations, Aksakov viewed Russian history as marked by a unique relationship between the state and what he called "the land" (zemlya ). At one level the division referred simply to the allegedly limited jurisdiction of state power in pre-Petrine Russia over Russian society. At another level "the land" signified the timeless religious and moral truth of Christianity, while the state, however necessary for the preservation of "the land," was external, soulless, and coercive. The Russian peasant's communal existence had to be protected from the contagion of politics. Behind Aksakov's static "Christian people's utopia" lay the romantic hatred of social and political rationalism, a passion that animated all the early Slavophiles. Aksakov died suddenly in the Ionian Islands in the midst of a rare European trip.

See also: aksakov, ivan sergeyevich; khomyakov, alexei stepanovich; slavophiles

bibliography

Christoff, Peter. (1982). An Introduction to Nineteenth-Century Russian Slavophilism, Vol. 3: K.S. Aksakov: A Study in Ideas. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Riasanovsky, Nicholas. (1952). Russia and the West in the Teaching of the Slavophiles. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Walicki, Andrzej. (1975). The Slavophile Controversy. Oxford: Clarendon.

Abbott Gleason