Nikolai Krementsov

Published On


Page Range

pp. 73-124

Print Length

51 pages

2. The Publisher: Grigorii Blagosvetlov

In search for answers to these questions, the second chapter follows the life and works of Grigorii Blagosvetlov (1824-1880), the journal’s editor-in-chief and publisher. It was Blagosvetlov who first serialized Florinskii’s treatise in his journal and then released it in book format. And, it was Blagosvetlov, Kremetsov argues, who enticed the young professor to write the treatise in the first place and, to a certain degree, shaped its style and contents. Florinskii’s essays were actually part of a broad campaign waged by the journal and its editor to popularize science and to promote a scientific worldview that sought to understand and eventually to cure the ‘social ills’ plaguing post-Crimean Russia. The propaganda of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary ideas, especially their possible ‘social applications,’ became a particular focus of this campaign, with nearly all of the journal’s core contributors publishing articles, essays, and reviews on the subject. Alas, none of them had adequate training in the natural sciences to explore these questions in depth. This occasionally led to embarrassing incidents and bitter polemics that apparently prompted Blagosvetlov’s invitation to Florinskii to write for Russian Word and the publication of his treatise in four of its 1865 issues. Unlike Galton’s 1865 article based on his original statistical studies of blood relations among ‘British men,’ Florinskii’s treatise was a ‘thought piece’ based on his careful reading and analysis of available literature.


Nikolai Krementsov