Northern Illinois University Press

Provincial Russia in the Age of Enlightenment

The Memoir of a Priest's Son

Dmitrii Ivanovich Rostislavov

Translated and Edited by Alexander M. Martin

"An expert translation of an important source."
—Gregory L. Freeze, Brandeis University

"Riveting and highly readable. Rostislavov provides a unique view of life in prereform Russia."—Christine D. Worobec, author of Possessed

The memoir of Dmitrii Ivanovich Rostislavov—a mathematician, teacher, and social critic—offers a rare firsthand view of provincial Russia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Translated into English for the first time, these extraordinary observations reveal much about daily village life and the cultural milieu of the time. An acute observer, Rostislavov discusses social and ethnic relationships as well as matters pertaining to education, law enforcement, religious practice, and folk beliefs.

Rostislavov's account of his own education is a harrowing description of coming of age in a Darwinian world of violence and cruelty. Coarse, impoverished schoolboys, brutal and corrupt teachers, and callous landlords formed a harsh environment characterized by sadistic corporal punishment and bitter class hatreds. Variously humorous, elegiac, and passionate, his narrative shows why even those from relatively privileged backgrounds came to detest the authoritarian order of the old regime.

In a probing analysis of the Russian national order, Rostislavov found the twin evils facing Russia to be the coarseness of traditional society and the authoritarianism and corruption of the regime and its representatives. Russia's hope for the future, he believed, lay with cultural changes that would ultimately raise the society's moral level. Illustrations, maps, and an introduction illuminating the historical context accompany this remarkable account of life in provincial Russia.

(2002) 288 pp., illus.
ISBN-10: 0-87580-285-0
ISBN: 978-0-87580-285-5
cloth $46.50 ISBN: 978-0-87580-592-4
paper $24.50

Alexander M. Martin, author of Romantics, Reformers, Reactionaries: Russian Conservative Thought and Politics in the Reign of Alexander I, is Associate Professor of Modern European History at Oglethorpe University. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two children.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Translator's Introduction
Preface: My Goals and Intentions in Writing My Memoir
1. My Family Background
2. The Village of Palishchi and Its Environs
3. A Village Household
4. Corporal Punishment at Home
5. My Early Education
6. My Family Moves to Tuma
7. Outlaws and Law Enforcement
8. Our Home Life in Tuma
9. Hospitality
10. Household Work
11. Agricultural Work
12. Community Life in Tuma
13. How the Clergy Would Tour the Parish
14. The Kasimov Church School
15. The Church-School Students
16. My Life in Kasimov
17. Society in Kasimov
18. The Tatars of Kasimov
19. Governor-General Balashov
20. The Merchant Riumin
21. The Death of the Tsar

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-285-5
cloth $46.50
ISBN: 978-0-87580-592-4
paper $24.50