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Voyage is the first part of Tom Stoppard’s trilogy The Coast of Utopia, an epic but also intimate drama of romantics and revolutionaries in an age of emperors.
Beginning in 1833, Voyage takes up the story of the future anarchist Michael Bakunin when his stage was still Premukhino, the Bakunin family estate, and Moscow under the repressive rule of Tsar Nicolas I, and when Michael and his four sisters, like many upper-class Russians of their generation, were in the thrall of German idealistic philosophy. ‘I knew there were families,’ remarks his friend, the brilliant young critic Vissarion Belinsky. ‘I come from a family. But I had no idea.’ But family life, with its passionate ties and conflagrations, all in the cause of exalted love and idealism, is left behind for ever when Michael at the age of twenty-six sets sail for Germany, waved goodbye by his newest friend, the first self-proclaimed socialist in Russian history, Alexander Herzen: the move from pure thought to revolutionary action is on the horizon.
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