SHESTOV: A Detailed Biography

Lev Shestov Studies Society – University of Glasgow

‌Lev Isaakovich Schwarzmann (alias Lev Shestov) was born in Kiev on the 31st January (or the 13th February according to the old Russian calendar), the first son of a respected Jewish family. The father, Isaak Moiseevich Schwarzmann came from a modest background, but he established and ran an important textile business. His house was a meeting place for the most prominent cultural figures of Kiev and St. Petersburg at that time. He had a strong personality, and the reputation of a free thinker in the Jewish community. Isaak Moiseevich’s outstanding knowledge of Hebrew literature and, more generally, of the Jewish tradition, made a lasting impression on Lev Isaakovich, whose later work significantly evolved around the paradoxical alliance between Judaism and Christian Orthodoxism (as opposed to the Ancient Greek rationality).

1880 – 1883
Secondary education in Kiev and Moscow (- following his early involvement in a political affair he leaves Kiev, and finishes his studies in Moscow).

He enrolls in the Faculty of Mathematics, but soon transfers to the Faculty of Law at the University of Moscow. Another conflict with the authorities, this time in the guise of a well-known Inspector of Students, forces Lev Isaakovich to return to Kiev.

He finishes his studies at the Faculty of Law of Kiev University, and graduates with the title ‘Candidate in Law’ [kandidat prav]. He prepares a doctoral thesis on the working-class legislation in Russia, but is not awarded the title of doctor of law, because the content of his dissertation is judged ‘revolutionary’, and leads to its supression by the Committee of Censors in Moscow. Nevertheless, Kiev University accepts his thesis, and his name is inscribed on the official advocates list at St. Petersburg, but Lev Isaakovich has little interest in pursuing a career in law… [+]

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