Northern Illinois University Press

Holy Fathers, Secular Sons

Clergy, Intelligentsia, and the Modern Self in Revolutionary Russia

Laurie Manchester

2009 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize Winner

“This wide-ranging, original volume makes a major contribution to our understanding of the role that Russian Orthodoxy, through priests’ offspring, played in that country’s social and cultural history. It is a model of definitive, exhaustive archival research.”—Gregory L. Freeze, Brandeis University

“Remarkable. Highly recommended.” —Choice

"Well researched and vigorously argued. Offer[s] solid reasons to support revisionist arguments."—Times Literary Supplement

Holy Fathers, Secular Sons is the first study of the Orthodox clergy’s contribution to Russian society. Prior to the 1860s, clergymen’s sons were not allowed to leave the castelike clergy in large numbers. When permission was granted, they responded by entering free professions and political movements in droves. Challenging the standard view of educated pre-revolutionary Russians as largely westernized, secular, and patricidal, Laurie Manchester demonstrates that the clergymen’s sons did retain their fathers’ values. This was true even of the minority who became atheists. Drawing on the clergy’s commitment to moral activism, anti-aristocratism, and nationalism, clergymen’s sons believed they could, and should, save Russia. The consequence was a cultural revolution that helped pave the way for the 1917 revolutions.

Using a massive array of previously untapped archival and published sources—including lively first-hand autobiographical writings of over two hundred clergymen’s sons—Manchester constructs a composite biography of their childhoods, educations, and adult lives. In a highly original approach, she explores how they employed the image of the clerical family to structure their political, professional, and personal lives. Manchester’s work provides a window into an extremely significant but little-known world of Russian educated culture while contributing to histories of lived religion, private life, and memory, as well as to debates over secularization, modernity, and revolution. Holy Fathers, Secular Sons powerfully challenges the assumptions that radical change cannot be inspired by tradition and that the modern age is inherently secular.

(2008) 304 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-665-5
Paper $24.00s

Laurie Manchester is Assistant Professor of History at Arizona State University.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tables
Chapter 1: The Backdrop: Clerical Life and Representations of Popovichi
Chapter 2: Popovichi and Their Fathers Judge Other Social Estates
Chapter 3: Prescriptive Norms for the Sacred Estate
Chapter 4: Clerical Childhood as Heaven on Earth
Chapter 5: Martyrdom, Moral Superiority, and a Bursa Education
Chapter 6: Holy Exodus: Leaving the Clergy to Impose Clerical Traditions
Chapter 7: The Search for Secular Salvation
Data on Identifiable Popovichi’s Personal Texts
Works Cited

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-665-5
paper $24.00