Russian economic, political, and social affairs as viewed by the contributors to the Revue des Deux Mondes, 1855-1920



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This thesis surveys articles published in the Revue des Deux Mondes from 1855 to 1920 which touched on Russian political, social, or economic affairs. The purpose of such a study was to determine how contributors to the Revue viewed Russia, reacted to significant events in Russia in that period and, finally, whether the closer ties between France and Russia affected the attitudes of the contributors and editors of the Revue. The attitudes exhibited by contributors during the period of reforms (1861-1881) contrasted sharply with those views which were expressed after 1888. One of the more impressive changes was one of mood; a pessimistic outlook during the earlier period gave way to a confidence in Russia's future as a modern state. An equally important change was the steadily growing support given to the tsarist government after 1888 by the Revue and its contributors in spite of the internal troubles which Russia experienced. Furthermore, the frequent demands for political reform in Russia which distinguished the writings of contributors during the earlier period almost ceased to be heard after 1888. In that year, large-scale French investment in Russian bonds and securities began, a circumstance which was related to changes in European diplomatic affairs. Subsequently, negotiations began for an alliance between France and Russia; the treaty was signed in 1894. In order to estimate the influence of both French investments and the Franco-Russian Alliance on the attitudes of contributors toward Russia, it was necessary to establish a clear picture of earlier views. In this way, the contrast between views expressed during the period of Great Reforms, as they were called, and those of the later period became more evident. The basis for this change was French economic and strategic interests. Proof of this came from contributors themselves; direct evidence supporting this explanation appeared frequently in articles published after 1888. As well, indirect evidence was supplied by the absence, in the Revue, of any mention of certain events, such as the depression after the turn of the century, which might have embarrassed the Russian government. Furthermore, other events, especially those surrounding the revolution of 1905, were referred to only after their significance had passed. In addition, the total number of articles on Russia declined during the decade of 1904-1913, even though news of significant events within Russia was not wanting. Confirmation that French interests influenced the views of contributors during the period after 1888 came with the rupture of those close ties with Russia which had been cultivated during this time. The reaction of the contributors and the editorial board of the Revue to this break was the voicing of an implacable opposition to the new Soviet government, as well as a nostalgic yearning for the more settled days of the tsarist regime and the Alliance. This study, then, has attempted to provide evidence that the close relationship between France and Russia after 1888 had a discernible impact on opinions expressed by the contributors to the Revue des Deux Mondes. After that date, political, social, and economic events within Russia were no longer a matter of simple interest or curiosity for contributors. Instead, Russian affairs were considered in the light of French economic and strategic concerns.



History, France, Russia, Foreign relations, Nineteenth century, Twentieth century, Journalism