Magazine
Latest Issue

Fire and ice

The end of the Soviet Union has released a flood of new histories of Russia and communism. Edward Skidelsky recommends two-one describes the tragedy of an idea, the other of a people

By Edward Skidelsky   March 1998

Tragedy is a compound of two elements: engagement and distance. This explains why the tragedy of an individual’s life is revealed most powerfully at the moment of his death. The memory of the life is still sufficiently vivid to engage us. But already a certain distance is placed between us and him. We no longer feel stirred to censor or correct, to applaud or wag a finger. Detachment-the necessary condition of tragic or indeed any form of contemplation-is born.

What is true of individuals is also true of nations and ideas. Only now, after the collapse of the Soviet Union…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect