anarchy archives


About Us

Contact Us

Other Links

Critics Corner


The Cynosure

  Michael Bakunin
  William Godwin
  Emma Goldman
  Peter Kropotkin
  Errico Malatesta
  Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
  Elisée Reclus
  Max Stirner
  Murray Bookchin
  Noam Chomsky
  Bright but Lesser Lights
  Cold Off The Presses
  Anarchist History
  Worldwide Movements
  First International
  Paris Commune
  Haymarket Massacre
  Spanish Civil War
  Art and Anarchy
  Education and Anarchy
  Anarchist Poets
  Music and Anarchy

Centennial Tribute to Kropotkin

<--Previous  Up  Next-->

High Resolution Image

results of his own travels in Siberia, but with infinite labor collected all the barometrical, geological and physical observations that had been recorded by other travelers. This preparatory work took him more than two years, followed by months of intense thought, to bring order out of what seemed "a bewildering chaos." Suddenly the solution flashed upon him: The structural lines of Asia, he was convinced, did not run north and south or east and west, as Humboldt represented them, but from north-east to south-west. This work he considered his chief contribution to science.

The next important geographical work undertaken by Kropotkin at the request of the Imperial Geographical Society was a journey through Finland in 1871-72 to study the glaciology of the Country. He returned with a mass of most interesting observations. After a visit to Western Europe, Kropotkin returned to St. Petersburg, and in 1874 presented his report on Finland.

This he did at a meeting of the Geographical Society where it was keenly discussed. A day or two later he was arrested, and finally imprisoned in the terrible Fortress of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, but was permitted to finish his work on the Glacial Period in Finland and in Central Europe, which with his magnum spus, "The Orography of Asia," were published after his escape, while he was residing in England under the name of Levashoff. In April, 1876, he had been transferred to another prison, and in a few days placed in the military hospital. The romantic story of his escape from this hospital is well known. He had no difficulty in passing through Finland and Sweden to Christiania, where in a British steamer he crossed to England, landing in Hull and going to Edinburgh, As he had to work for his living he began to send, in his assumed name of Levashoff, notes, mainly geographical, to The Times and Nature; of the latter I was then Sub-Editor. He ultimately, in 1877, I think, moved to London where I made his personal acquaintance, which was developed into a life friendship. Soon after his arrival a large work in Russian was to come for review and naturally it was sent to Levashoff. He called to see me with the book and asked if I read Russian, and alas, I had to admit that I could not. Pointing to the title-page he tld me it was a treatise on the geology and glaciation of Finaland, by P. Kropotkin...He told me brielfly his story, and naturally I was intensely interested. I told him we had no one in a position to review the book, and he might write an article stating briefly its main features and conclusions, which I am glad to say he did. Between London, France, and Switzerland he migrated, until, after two years' imprisonment in France he finally settled down in London, where he remained, with a few intermissions, till his unfortunate return to Russia in 1917. He soon formed literary connections in England in addition to The Times and Nature. He wrote largely for The Nineteenth Century, through which he ran his two well-known books, "Fields, Factories and Workshops" and "Mutual Aid Among Animals." To the eleventh edition of the "Britannica" he contributed most of the Russian geographical articles. Of course, he soon made himself at home at the Royal Geographical Society, and he was a valued contributor to The Journal. Among his contributions to The Nineteenth Century was an article in December, 1885, entitled, "What Geography Ought to Be," which is well worth reading. It is based on the "report on Geographical Education," issued by the Society in that year, and gives a comprehensive view of what he considered the field of geography ought to be, its value from the scientific and practical standpoint, and the place it ought to hold in education. "Surely," he says, "there is scarcely another science which might be rendered as attractive for the child as geography, and as powerful an instrument for the general development of the mind, for familiarizing the scholar with the true method of scientific reasoning, and for awakening the taste for natural science altogether."

Unfortunately, Kropotkin never again had an opportunity of doing active work in the field of scientific exploration. He became more and more absorbed in the promotion of his socialistic or rather anarchistic views, and suffered more and more from the consequences of the hardships he had to endure in prison. In his later years he became almost a chronic invalid, wheeled in a bath-chair about Brighton, where he lived for the last few years. His main contributions to geography are the records of his explorations in Eastern Siberia and the discussion of the great problems which they suggested to him; and his investigations into the glaciology of Finland. He was a keen observer, with a well-trained


[Home]               [About Us]               [Contact Us]               [Other Links]               [Critics Corner]