London: Sheed & Ward, 1944. First edition. Tall octavo, original red cloth, original dust jacket. Very faint tanning to free front endpaper, front corners gently bumped, dust jacket with modest soiling to back panel and mild wear along top edges. Very good indeed. Item #525
"RUSSIA, IN SPITE OF THE SCHISM, IS STILL LINKED BY AN INVISIBLE BOND TO THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH" First edition of Helen Iswolsky's brief introduction to the history of Russian spirituality. The daughter of Alexander Iswolsky, a Russian Ambassador to France, Iswolsky became immersed in the literary salons of Paris of the 1930s, eventually gravitating towards the Catholic intellectuals gathered around Jacques and Raissa Maritain and Nicholas Berdiaev. The personal testimony of her conversion to Catholicism is detailed in Light before Dusk (1942). A contemporary book review characterized her work this way: "Miss Iswolsky had two interests: The Catholic social movement and the movement for the reunion of the Eastern Churches. Following them, and sometimes uniting them, she came into contact with a now famous group of French and Russian Christian intellectuals." (Charles Mulligan, The Modern Schoolman). The text, divided into sixteen short sections, offers "a series of meditations on Russia's great religious themes as they were expressed by her famous writers and thinkers, by her saints and her heroes." The book is illustrated with a frontispiece and six other plates, including portraits of Alexander Pushkin, Peter Chaadaiev, Wladimir Soloviev, and Alexander Block. With an Author's Foreword and a brief note on Sources: "The author had begun the preparation of Soul of Russia in Paris and had to leave her notes and bibliography behind when she fled from the French capital in 1940." Iswolsky had to reconstitute this book from sources available in America; the extensive Bibliography (along with an Index) has been largely reassembled at the conclusion of the text. Soul of Russia was published by Sheed & Ward in wartime London in 1944.