Peasant Icons: Representations of Rural People in Late Nineteenth Century Russia


In the thirty years after Russian peasants were emancipated in 1861, they became a major focus of Russian intellectual life. This text is the first to examine the revealing images of the newly-freed peasant created by Russian writers, scholars, journalists, and government officials during the first three decades of the post-Emancipation period, as the identity and fate of the Russian peasant became an integral component in the future of Russian envisioned by liberal reformers and conservatives alike. Frierson introduces students to the stereotypes created by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and other intellectuals seeking to understand village life, from he likable Narod, the simple man of the simple foll, to the exploitative cloak, the village strongman, to the conflicting images of the Russian peasant woman, or Baba, as, alternately, a rural Eve, a virago, or a victim. Researching the elements of social life in rural Russia, including rural concepts of justice, the potential for exploitation in the villages, and the break-up of patriarchal households, Frierson sheds light on the fundamental concepts of the peasantry that influenced not only the way educated Russians of the late nineteenth century approached their rural compatriots, but also the filters through which students and scholars examine the rural culture of late IMperial Russia a century later.



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Oxford University Press

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