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Just a Storm in a Literary Teacup?

7 October 2002

'Any scholar who writes for a wider audience, who breaks new ground and crosses academic boundaries, must expect some criticism, perhaps some envy too... Anyone who writes for a general audience is bound to be in debt to academic scholars who have studied their own subject in far greater detail than can be communicated to non-specialists. Perhaps they are suspicious of a scholar like myself who tries to tackle big ideas; perhaps they would not try to make the sort of connections that I make between different subject areas... If I had written it as an 'academic' work it would have been 10 volumes long.'

Orlando Figes, quoted in the Guardian, after his new book Natasha's Dance had been reviewed with unprecedented ferocity by Rachel Polonsky in the highly respected Times Literary Supplement.