Thomas Jeffrey’s 1762 Map of “Russia, or Muscovy in Europe”

A comparison of Larry Wolff’s Inventing Eastern Europe and Richard Wortman’s Scenarios of Power

IMAGE: Thomas Jeffrey’s 1762 map
of “Russia, or Muscovy in Europe”


Larry Wolff’s Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment and Richard Wortman’s Scenarios of Power: Myth and Ceremony in Russian Monarchy from Peter the Great to the Abdication of Nicholas II can be seen as approaching the same problem from two different angles. The problem is what exactly constitutes Europe, and the position of what came to be known as Eastern Europe in relation to Europe proper. Both studies are concerned with the peculiar case of a political and geographic entity that either appeared to foreigners as “European, but not quite,” or self-consciously conceived of itself that way. In the most general terms, Wolff approaches this problem from the angle of Eastern Europe by showing how it was envisioned (and indeed “invented”) by visitors from the West. Oppositely, Wortman is interested in how Europe was understood and represented by the tsarist regime in Russia. Continue reading