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Other titles in the French List series:
The Totalitarian Experience (French List)by Tzvetan Todorov
Synopses & Reviews
The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as many other communist totalitarian regimes around the world. But it would be naive to assume that this historic, symbolic event and its aftermath have completely rid the world of totalitarianism. Instead, we should ask, what is the totalitarian experience and how does it survive today?
This is the imposing question raised by acclaimed philosopher and writer Tzvetan Todorov in this compact, highly personal essay. Here, he recounts his own experiences with totalitarianism in his native Bulgaria and discusses the books he has written in the last twenty years that were devoted to examining such regimes, such as Voices from the Gulag, his influential analysis of Stalinist concentration camps. Through this retrospective investigation, Todorov offers a historical look at communism. He brings together and distills his extensive oeuvre to reveal the essence of totalitarian ideology, the characteristics of daily life under communism, and the irony of democratic messianism.
Bringing his thoughts and insights up to the present, Todorov explores how economic ultraliberalism may be considered just another form of totalitarianism. And his conclusion leads us to ask ourselves another challenging question: Are liberal democratic societies actually totalitarian experiences in disguise?
“In this honed, finely calibrated essay, Todorov refutes the notion that good can be imposed by force. More efficient is to embody one’s values and demonstrate their worth. . . . This is a concise and eloquent defence of what makes us truly human.”—Age, on Torture and the War on Terror
About the Author
Tzvetan Todorov’s books include The Conquest of America, Imperfect Garden, The New World Disorder, Memory as a Remedy for Evil, and Torture and the War on Terror, the latter two also published by Seagull Books. Teresa Lavender Fagan is a freelance translator living in Chicago. She has published over twenty translations, including J. M. G. Le Clézio’s The Mexican Dream and Roland Barthes’s Incidents, the latter also published by Seagull Books.
Table of Contents
The Fall of the Wall
A Glance at the History of Communism
Morality Confronted with the Extreme
Life Under Communism
Memories of Evil
Totalitarianism and Ultraliberalism
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