The Invention of Mikhail Lomonosov
A Russian National Myth
Academic Studies Press 2013
New Books in BiographyNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Russian and Eurasian StudiesNew Books Network October 13, 2013 FILIPP VELGACH
Mikhail Lomonosov is a well known Russian figure. As poet, geographer, and physicist, Lomonosov enjoyed access to the best resources that 18th century Russia had to offer. As a result, his contributions to Russian arts and sciences were immeasurable. The source and shape of his celebrity, however, is as interesting as the man. In his book, The Invention of Mikhail Lomonosov: A Russian National Myth (Academic Studies Press, 2013), Steven Usitalo constructs the great polymath not from the subject’s revolutionary work, but from the words of his biographers who transformed and lifted Lomonosov as a great scientific thinker embodying the Russian spirit. To Russians of the 19th century, Lomonosov helped represent the place of Russian sciences on the international stage. To the Russians of the USSR, Lomonosov represented the bold and forward spirit of the Russian people. Over the course of history, the great scientist and artist remains crucial to Russia’s memory–his actual work often distorted in the process. As Russia marked 300 years since his birth, the memory of Lomonosov still represents the interests of his admirers. The book masterfully demonstrates the power of national narrative and tradition in constructing history.