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The Europeans: Three Lives and the Making of a Cosmopolitan Culture

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The Europeans is a richly enthralling panoramic cultural history of nineteenth-century Europe told through the intertwined lives of three remarkable people: a great singer Pauline Viardot a great writer Ivan Turgenev and a great connoisseur Pauline's husband Louis. Their passionate ambitious lives were bound up with an astonishing array of writers composers and painters all trying to make their way through the exciting prosperous and genuinely pan-European culture that came about as a result of huge economic and technological change. This culture - through trains telegraphs and printing - allowed artists of all kinds to exchange ideas and make a living shuttling back and forth across the whole continent from the British Isles to Imperial Russia as they exploited a new cosmopolitan age. The Europeans is Orlando Figes' masterpiece. Surprising beautifully written it describes huge changes through intimate details little-known stories and through the lens of Turgenev and the Viardots' touching strange love triangle. Events which we now see as central to European high culture are made completely fresh allowing the reader to revel in the sheer precariousness with which the great salons premieres and bestsellers came into existence.