Author Topic: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?  (Read 58742 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline JStorey

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 124
  • looking for lieutenant kije
    • View Profile
    • online portfolio
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #105 on: February 19, 2010, 02:27:39 AM »
Is there an interesting bio of Kerensky?  I'm not keen on reading a tedious one!

historylover, I know only one book published in English about him
"Kerensky: First Love of the Revolution"(1987), by R. Abraham. Excellent book. Totall autobiography.

Um, having read the book in its entirety, it is the very definition of tedious.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, though there is much gained in terms of dispelling some of the silly myths surrounding Kerensky.

He is a fascinating character.  From the very same town as the Lenin brother's; Kerensky's father actually wrote a letter of recommendation for Lenin.  My memory is rusty but I think Kerensky watched the carriage of Lenin's brother Alexander when it passed through town for his execution.  Very ironic.  Another interesting childhood event regarding Kerensky is that he constructed a wreath and actually wept upon the death of Alexander III.  He had very much internalized the Tsar/Father ideal; it quite shaped his decision making once he was in power. 

From the point of view of politics, Kerensky spent far too much time at the Alexander Palace.  After determining that most of the vile rumors circulating throughout the Tauride Palace (and in Petrograd generally) were untrue - many of which he himself had helped perpetuate - he became the Romanov's protectorate.  He truly shielded them from harm.  Sending them to Tobolsk was probably the safest place they could go.  He certainly did his best to send them to England...

The analogy that I most often used for Kerensky is this:  he alone had the audacity to try and reign in the various and disparate political interests in Russia, pointing them in a singular direction.  In this regard he failed miserably (reconciling a Provisional Government with a Soviet wasn't going to happen, to say nothing of reconciling the emerging Reds and Whites)... In short he was destined - the moment he took hold of the reigns - to be drawn and quartered.  Each horse was off running in a radically different direction.  Kornilov on one side, Lenin on the other...  The conservatives already riled by their loss of power, ready to reclaim it; the soviet (which Kerensky himself served on) chomping at the bit for more power...  Hardly the time for a conciliatory voice.

Kerensky was much more a disciple of the French revolution than a true socialist (although his true leanings were to the hard left).  He wanted a bill of rights, democracy, constituent assembly, etc.  Kerensky is certainly the character that connects the French, American, and Russian revolutions together.  They were, in some respects, not terribly different from one another in spirit.  Remember I am speaking of the February revolution here (so don't hit 'post' with a scathing diatribe too quickly)...

I think in the end he simply became overwhelmed.  He was a great orator, a passionate fellow, but not a true leader.  I hate to say it but in times of trouble true leaders seek power ruthlessly.  They are not interested in compromise or debate or ideals.  With Kerensky at the helm, power was for the taking.  If not Lenin, Kornilov would have surely grabbed it... 

He ended up a somewhat bitter professor at Stanford, from what I understand.  I read that he was a tough prof...  Very ironic that he was driven away in an American car - a Peirce Arrow!  It is said that his aid - in a desperate search for an escape vehicle - knocked upon the door of the Nabokov residence.  Their son would of course later become well known in circles of both lepidoptery and literature.  And they wisely declined to loan a car...   

The one thing Abraham's book does convey well is that Kerensky was indeed the singular divining rod of revolutionary passion in the spontaneous moment of the February revolution.  The choices he made were those of life and death.  He had to deal with with the prospect of his actions judged as either treason or justice, depending upon the outcome of the revolution, which was far from certain.  He took a great risk and owned the moment, and for that (despite where you stand regarding the Romanovs) he really should be recognized and - in some sense - celebrated. 

Offline historylover

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 170
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
    • Writer and Editor
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #106 on: April 11, 2010, 12:45:13 AM »
Thank you very much, JStorey. 

I haven't been here for a long time - I'm sorry for the late reply.  I agree with everything that you wrote but I am not sure what you meant by Kerensky being 'hard Left'?

Is there another book on Kerensky?  I am sorry to learn that he was bitter but it was understandable.

I am very interested in his second wife, Lydia Tritton, but I can't find out much about her.

Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #107 on: April 18, 2010, 08:47:57 PM »
this might help

Tritton, Lydia Ellen (1899 - 1946)
TRITTON, LYDIA ELLEN (1899-1946), journalist and public speaker, was born on 19 September 1899 in East Brisbane, fourth of six children of Frederick William Tritton, a furniture warehouseman from Jersey, Channel Islands, who became a wealthy retailer, and his English-born wife Eliza Ellen, née Worrall. Educated at the Brisbane High School for Girls (Somerville House from 1920), Lydia insisted on the faux French name of 'Nellé', preferring to be 'hated [rather] than ignored'. After leaving school, she made several public appearances as an elocutionist, and published privately an anthology of verse, Poems (c.1920). She moved to Sydney in the early 1920s and worked as a journalist.


In 1925 Miss Tritton sailed for London. She toured the Continent and gained a reputation as an authority on international affairs. In Italy she read the Journal (Paris, 1887) of Marie Bashkirtseff, a nineteenth-century Russian émigré who had lived in France. It inspired her to meet and mix with expatriate Russians. At the register office, Kensington, London, on 11 December 1928 she married Nicholas Alexander Nadejine, a 43-year-old professional singer and former officer in the White Russian Army. They were childless. While visiting Brisbane, Nadejine gave a recital; Nell (as she by then styled her Christian name) took private lessons in Russian from Nina Maximoff (later Christesen), who was to found the department of Russian language and literature at the University of Melbourne. Back in London, Nadejine unsuccessfully tried to join the Covent Garden opera company. Thereafter he reputedly deceived his wife with 'some crazy elderly Englishwomen who were rich and idle'. Nicholas and Nell were divorced in 1936.


Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #108 on: April 18, 2010, 08:48:56 PM »
In the early 1930s, possibly in Paris, Mrs Nadejine had met the exiled Alexander Kerensky and begun working as his secretary. Kerensky, a lawyer, had been a member of the Russian duma, minister for war, and prime minister of Russia for three months from July 1917. After the October revolution he lived in Paris, but spent some time in the United States of America raising money for the anti-Bolshevik cause. Nell fell in love with him. Kerensky did not at first reciprocate her affections. In March-June 1939 she visited Brisbane, where she lectured to various organizations on international politics and continued her Russian lessons, with M. I. Maximoff, Nina's father. Kerensky enticed her to come to the United States by suggesting they might soon be married. His divorce from his wife Olga became absolute on 29 June. Alexander and Nell were married at Martins Creek, Pennsylvania, on 20 August that year. The justice of the peace in whose home the ceremony took place, reported that 'a man wearing a monocle and carrying a cane arrived accompanied by a pretty blonde'.


M. and Mme Kerensky left New York at the end of September 1939 and took up residence in Paris. The self-exiled Russian author Nina Berberova, whom they visited frequently, described Nell as 'beautiful, calm, and intelligent', with 'shoulders and a bosom like Anna Karenina'. On 11 June 1940, shortly before the fall of France, the couple left Paris by motorcar. After a harrowing trip, they reached the Spanish border eighteen days later. Kerensky, as a Russian refugee, was not permitted to cross. They both turned back, and drove to St Jean-de-Luz whence they made their way to England in a British naval vessel. Travelling in a trans-Atlantic liner, they arrived in New York on 12 August 1940 and received a triumphal welcome from the New York Times. They lived in a small, rented apartment on Park Avenue until 1942 when they acquired a large wooden farmhouse near the New York-Connecticut border. Kerensky's lecture tours provided their main source of income. Their life, when they were together, was idyllic, with numerous visitors and games of croquet.


Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #109 on: April 18, 2010, 08:49:53 PM »
During her husband's absences, Mrs Kerensky sometimes thought of returning to Australia to undertake war-work. They moved to a smaller house closer to New York city and in October 1945 travelled to Brisbane. In February 1946, while staying with her parents at Clayfield, Nell suffered a stroke. Survived by her husband, she died of chronic nephritis on 10 April that year and was cremated with Anglican rites. On his return to Paris in 1949, Kerensky read to Berberova his 'History of the Illness and Death of Nell'.

Select Bibliography
N. Berberova, The Italics are Mine (NY, 1969); R. Abraham, Alexander Kerensky (NY, 1987); J. Armstrong, The Christesen Romance (Melb, 1996); Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 23 Aug 1939, 11 Apr 1946. More on the resources

Author: Judith Armstrong

Print Publication Details: Judith Armstrong, 'Tritton, Lydia Ellen (1899 - 1946)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, Melbourne University Press, 2002, pp 409-410.


Offline JStorey

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 124
  • looking for lieutenant kije
    • View Profile
    • online portfolio
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #110 on: April 20, 2010, 12:19:02 PM »
I haven't been here for a long time - I'm sorry for the late reply.  I agree with everything that you wrote but I am not sure what you meant by Kerensky being 'hard Left'?

Is there another book on Kerensky?  I am sorry to learn that he was bitter but it was understandable.

Sure - by the way despite it being tedious I'd still read the Abraham bio... 

In terms of 'hard left' I suppose what I mean by that is just from the perspective of American politics (I'm American) the spectrum of 'liberal' and 'conservative' - even now in an ever-polarized climate - pales in comparison to the political spectrum existing in 1917 Russia.  In the American framework, Kerensky would fall off the chart into socialist obscurity, while in the Russian context he was deemed by the left as far too conservative and restrained in his decisions.  Rodzianko, who on the eve of revolution tried in vain to warn the Tsar of the desperate  situation in Petrograd, was a wild liberal from the point of view of the monarchy.  Dissolve the Duma!  Yet from the left Rodzianko was too conservative to even enter the conversation.  Similarly, the staunch monarchists and their politics would also push the American definition of conservative into new territory (some might argue over that one, but I wouldn't.)...   In other words, in today's world we don't quite realize just how polarized a political climate can really become. 

I find that amusing.  Well perhaps amusing isn't the word; I find it alarming too, because the emerging political patterns in America bear increasing resemblance to those of Russia before the revolution, albeit minus true economic collapse (a prerequisite for discord, it seems).  Increasing social stratification, growing political polarization, dissatisfaction with government, dissatisfaction with war, mild economic pressure, corruption/greed among vital elite institutions, etc.  To me - if we are to take anything from history - this all points to some kind of systemic internal conflict/fracture within the next 50 years or so, probably earlier.  In any case I digress...

Anyhow I did find the Stanford article, truly fascinating:

http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2001/janfeb/features/kerensky.html

Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #111 on: April 21, 2010, 01:29:57 PM »
I would label Kerensky as a social democratic socialist who was coopted by the communists.

Offline JStorey

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 124
  • looking for lieutenant kije
    • View Profile
    • online portfolio
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #112 on: April 22, 2010, 09:30:16 AM »
I would label Kerensky as a social democratic socialist who was coopted by the communists.

Hmmm...  I'd say Kerensky "coopted" the 'communists' rather than the other way around. 

First of all you can't say communists.  You have to specify Bolshevik, Menshevik, etc.  There was widespread disagreement about what to do and who was in charge among the 'Communists' as you call them.  Lenin was initially laughed at and booed when he proposed the forceful takeover of power.  Kerensky spontaneously initiated the formation of the Petrograd Soviet in the opposite wing of the Tauride Palace following the 'Soviets' of Father Gapon's movement in 1905.  It was a very passionate, democratic expression that quickly went awry as the Soviet quickly chomped at the bit for power and butted heads with the provisional government.  Also as prominent figures returned to the political scene from exile.

Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #113 on: April 22, 2010, 09:50:05 AM »
I believe that I can say communists as a general blanket term.  they were all indoctrinated into Marx@s political philosophies and ideiologies.  Bolsheviks and Mensheviks were all shades of the same colour - Red

Offline JStorey

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 124
  • looking for lieutenant kije
    • View Profile
    • online portfolio
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #114 on: April 22, 2010, 01:45:21 PM »
I believe that I can say communists as a general blanket term.  they were all indoctrinated into Marx@s political philosophies and ideiologies.  Bolsheviks and Mensheviks were all shades of the same colour - Red

Well of course you can - I merely suggest that you shouldn't if you want to examine the period with any rigor.  Take your telling point, for instance:  red...  Well, why red?  (Drum roll, I shall tell you....)  Red was the color of the February revolution (later borrowed by the 'communists' as you call them) in homage to the French Revolution (their muse a shirt soiled in blood).  The February revolution was very much perceived as a long-awaited and logical extension of the French.  Red was in fact a connecting thread between French, American, and Russian revolutions - all far more interwoven then some might have us believe (and that, in the Russian/American case, subsequent historical tensions have distorted into a baffling and utterly false dichotomy). 

Only when you begin to understand how the actors thought in the context of the time and culture can we interpret their actions with clarity.  Generally the revolutionaries did not segregate notions of democracy, bill of rights, rights of man, etc. with Marxist ideology - they were all intertwined as philosophies empowering the oppressed common man.  Read Kerensky's speeches (as well as all the others) for a myriad of examples.  How could Kerensky serve as vice-chairman of the Soviet and head of the provisional government all at once, without a common thread of uniting principles between them?  (Of course this thread quickly unraveled when the stakes were raised, but that is neither here nor there to the point I am making)...  Similarly, why would Lenin be so roundly abused - literally shouted down by his colleagues - when he first sought support for what he later simply went out and did on his own?   

The alternative, anachronistic analysis, simply doesn't work:  we take our own mental paradigm of socialism, democracy, communism, etc. and project it backwards.  (How is the Russian revolution known today?  As the 'Communist revolution' of course - wrong)  How the actors behaved and why becomes incomprehensible because we make no attempt to understand how they thought.  The best we can do is invent all sorts of our own modern-day rubbish:  'if they had only stuck with so and so [Witte, Stolypin, insert name here] then x never would have happened' - or - 'if Kerensky had only abandoned the war, then y never would have happened' etc.

Well there's a few paragraphs that should foment some kind of lively discussion. 

Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #115 on: April 22, 2010, 02:11:30 PM »
I agree with you that historical revisionism and hypothesis about alternate possible outcomes of historical facts are fantasy at best but they allow us to try to play with history and possibly understand it better.  And I have studied a lot of nuanced histories of the period including but not exclusively Alexander Solzheytzens November 1917.  I also have friends who have written extensive histories on the revolutions but most of the time when I am posting on here, I do not want to go through my library to find and source particular points. It is more fun just to react to what one contributor has written and mmore power to those who do the hard research prior to posting.
  By the way do you have any information on the Shtandart in the period between 1918 and when it was converted into a mine layer (the Marti).  aside from it being used as a deteniton center.

Offline Kitt

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 44
    • View Profile
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #116 on: April 23, 2010, 11:18:35 AM »

What a totally neat thing.  I live only about 10 or 15 miles from Martins Creek.  I've never heard of this. I must investigate.  When I was in college at East Stroudsburg State, in the same region, I remember going past an area of land with a very high wire fence around it. I was told that Karensky had a home there, in Bushkill, Pa. A few years ago, I tried to find the area, but after 40 years, the area really changed. and I couldn't find it.
All the best,
Kitt


"In the early 1930s, possibly in Paris, Mrs Nadejine had met the exiled Alexander Kerensky and begun working as his secretary. Kerensky, a lawyer, had been a member of the Russian duma, minister for war, and prime minister of Russia for three months from July 1917. After the October revolution he lived in Paris, but spent some time in the United States of America raising money for the anti-Bolshevik cause. Nell fell in love with him. Kerensky did not at first reciprocate her affections. In March-June 1939 she visited Brisbane, where she lectured to various organizations on international politics and continued her Russian lessons, with M. I. Maximoff, Nina's father. Kerensky enticed her to come to the United States by suggesting they might soon be married. His divorce from his wife Olga became absolute on 29 June. Alexander and Nell were married at Martins Creek, Pennsylvania, on 20 August that year. The justice of the peace in whose home the ceremony took place, reported that 'a man wearing a monocle and carrying a cane arrived accompanied by a pretty blonde'.


M. and Mme Kerensky left New York at the end of September 1939 and took up residence in Paris. The self-exiled Russian author Nina Berberova, whom they visited frequently, described Nell as 'beautiful, calm, and intelligent', with 'shoulders and a bosom like Anna Karenina'. On 11 June 1940, shortly before the fall of France, the couple left Paris by motorcar. After a harrowing trip, they reached the Spanish border eighteen days later. Kerensky, as a Russian refugee, was not permitted to cross. They both turned back, and drove to St Jean-de-Luz whence they made their way to England in a British naval vessel. Travelling in a trans-Atlantic liner, they arrived in New York on 12 August 1940 and received a triumphal welcome from the New York Times. They lived in a small, rented apartment on Park Avenue until 1942 when they acquired a large wooden farmhouse near the New York-Connecticut border. Kerensky's lecture tours provided their main source of income. Their life, when they were together, was idyllic, with numerous visitors and games of croquet."


Offline JStorey

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 124
  • looking for lieutenant kije
    • View Profile
    • online portfolio
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #117 on: April 23, 2010, 01:17:39 PM »
Their life, when they were together, was idyllic, with numerous visitors and games of croquet."

Croquet with Kerensky - if I could travel back in time what a conversation that would be.

And Constantinople - yes good points all... 

Re: the Standart (I think Shtandart is a different, earlier ship) I don't know what happened to it but a very interesting question indeed.  The Bolshevik's overly-pragmatic transformations assigned to what they perceived as symbols of decadence, opulence, tyranny, etc. are a fascinating study in psychology.  And of course - in the midst of condemnation - the revolutionaries gave in to temptation too... One of the famous criticisms of Kerensky was that he began to sleep in the Tsar's bed in the Winter Palace, rode in the Tsar's limos, had his portrait done by Repin, etc.  He who wears the crown of King Dodon will fall into slumber.

Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #118 on: April 23, 2010, 01:25:07 PM »
Shtandart is the Peter 1's yacht.  the political implications of it were immense and it cost the equivalent of a year's budget for education for Russian = $2,000,000.  It was interesting that the Polar Star did not receive the same political labelling but maybe the point was two yachts of that magnitude was a yacht too far, one yacht over the tipping point.  Imperial yachts make interesting political statements and symbols.  If my Russian was good enough I would write a book about the Shtandart.

Offline historylover

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 170
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
    • Writer and Editor
Re: Kerensky-Life-Provisional Government-Escape-Villain?
« Reply #119 on: May 23, 2010, 06:03:29 AM »
Thank you very much, Constantinople.  It's a pity that 'Nell' died so young but she certainly had a fascinating life! She must have been
very modern and forthright to become a journalist in those days.  I can imagine that it would have been especially difficult for a woman
in Australia.

Trittons was an excellent furniture store.  My parents used to shop there and I am old enough to vaguely remember it.