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Shipwreck is the second part of Tom Stoppard’s trilogy The Coast of Utopia. It continues the story of the anarchist Michael Bakunin, the critic Vissarion Belinsky, the writer Ivan Turgenev, and their circle, but as the action shifts from Russia to Paris in the year of European revolution, it is Alexander Herzen and his wife Natalie who come to occupy the focus. Isaiah Berlin called Herzen a writer and thinker of genius, one of the greatest of nineteenth-century Russians; and it was here, in the intoxicating anticipation and the dashed hopes of the 1848 revolution – when the loss of his political illusions were overshadowed by a series of personal calamities – that Herzen found his greatness, seeking the way forward for Russia, the just society and the good life.
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