This book studies the work of five Russian liberal thinkers who were active in the period 1840-60 against the general background of Russian history, literature and thought in that period. All five thinkers (to each of whom a separate chapter is devoted) played an important part in the flowering of Russian letters in the 1840s, and were involved in the attempt of the intelligentsia, the conscience of the nation, to bring more humane and enlightened values to their backward and semi-feudal country. By the 1850s, when a more radical wing began to emerge in the intelligentsia, the moderation of these liberals became more apparent. While the radicals were prepared to countenance revolutionary upheaval, the liberals counselled patience, toleration, and gradualism. In his conclusion Dr Offord explores the possible reasons for the failure of the liberal tendency, represented by these thinkers, to establish itself properly in Russia.