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Women in Nineteenth-Century Russia

 | 
Wendy Rosslyn
, 
Alessandra Tosi

2. Women and Urban Culture

Barbara Alpern Engel

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  • 1 . ’Introduction’, in The City in Central Europe: Culture and Society from 1800 to the Present, ed. (...)
  • 2 Daniel R. Brower, The Russian City Between Tradition and Modernity, 1850–1900 (Berkeley, CA: Unive (...)

1In the final decades of the nineteenth century, Russia underwent the social and economic transformations that, centuries earlier, had given rise to urban culture in much of Western Europe. In the West, the commercial revolution and rise of a market economy had resulted in a critical mass of urban population that did not depend on the land. The development of urban-rural differences in lifestyle and mentality; the existence of forms of commercial activity that affected the ’physical fabric’ of their setting; and the growth of regular non-familial, non-domestic forms of sociability that occurred in comparatively public and/or commercialized settings1 – these circumstances, the preconditions of urban culture, did not really exist in Russia until the Reform Era (1855–81). Even then Russia’s commercial revolution accompanied industrialization and the spread of modern transport, rather than preceding them, as had been the case in the West. Still, when economic changes gathered momentum in the 1880s and accelerated in the 1890s, they affected even Russia’s provincial towns. Many evolved from ’tsarist outposts’ into genuine urban centres following the expansion of railway networks, which enhanced personal mobility and reduced cultural isolation. Even relatively remote peasant communities were affected, as Christine Worobec notes in her contribution to this volume.2

  • 3 . Brower, The Russian City, pp. 75–91.
  • 4 . See Gregory Freeze, ’The Soslovie (Estate) Paradigm and Russian Society History’, American Histor (...)

2One result of these developments was what historian Daniel Brower has called the ’migrant city’.3 Hundreds of thousands of people, a substantial minority of them female, most of them peasants released from serfdom only after 1861, inundated Russia’s major cities seeking jobs in the burgeoning industrial, construction and, especially in the case of women, service sectors of the economy, swelling the ranks of the urban poor. Another result was a sizeable increase in the number of ’middling’ people, as townspeople (meshchanstvo) and merchants, as well as entrepreneurial peasants and nobles, took advantage of new opportunities to make money. Unlike peasants and nobles, townspeople and merchants were already classified as urban, according to Russia’s system of sosloviia, legally constituted categories that established an individual’s rights and responsibilities in relation to the state.4 The number of white-collar workers, professionals and semi-professionals also grew dramatically, the result of expanding opportunities for education and professional employment that attracted young women and men from the provinces as well as urban residents. The women might find work as physicians, midwives, telegraph workers, or most commonly of all, teachers.

  • 5 . Brower, The Russian City, pp. 137, 153, 149, 160.
  • 6 . Aleksandr I. Kupriianov, Gorodskaia kul’tura russkoi provintsii: konets XVIII-pervaia polovina XI (...)

3In his groundbreaking study of Russia’s urban development, Daniel Brower noted the ways that Russia’s urban culture differed from as well as resembled that of the West. Differences included not only the comparative tardiness of Russian developments, but also the depth of the social divide that separated wealthy ’municipal elites’ from the urban poor, a divide characteristic of urban life throughout Europe, but which in Russia was widened by the Westernized culture of the elites and the folk culture of the migrant poor, and by the propensity of tsarist officials to favour education according to rank. The outcome, in his words, was a ’contested’ urban cultural dynamic, with elites and folk vying for hegemony and little to no middle ground.5 More recent work has qualified this stark picture suggesting that, by the second half of the century, a middling, if not middle, class had come to occupy some of this contested terrain, however small and powerless the group remained by Western European standards and however fragmented by differences of social, geographic and ethnic origin. Emerging as early as mid-century, it grew rapidly thereafter.6 Encouraged by the new commercial, educational and professional opportunities, some people began to imagine or adopt ways of living substantially unlike those of their parents. For beneficiaries of opportunities for social mobility, Russia’s soslovie order became less meaningful as a way of conceiving the self and its possibilities.

  • 7 . Sally West, ’The Material Promised Land: Advertising’s Modern Agenda in Late Imperial Russia’, Ru (...)

4Cultural developments associated with urban life reflected and reinforced the social flux. The new and more individualistic values of the capitalist marketplace and commercial culture challenged older ways of being in the world and contributed to the crafting of new social identities. Books and magazines aimed at the upwardly mobile dispensed advice on how to dress, maintain and furnish the home, and behave with refinement. Advertising enticed women to consume the items displayed in department store windows and on the pages of popular magazines and to employ beauty aides to decorate the self.7 Encouraging the pursuit of pleasure, the new consumer culture, which reached well beyond the cities, as Worobec’s essay in this volume shows, was particularly unsettling for a people long accustomed to subordinating individual needs to family and community.

  • 8 . Richard Sennett, The Fall of Public Man: On the Social Psychology of Capitalism (New York: Vintag (...)
  • 9 . Jeffrey Brooks, When Russia Learned to Read: Literacy and Popular Literature, 1861–1917 (Princeto (...)

5Historians differ in their assessment of how industrialization, urbanization and associated cultural changes affected women. They draw primarily on the experience of Great Britain, where the Industrial Revolution and then Victorianism rendered public space off limits to ’respectable’ women, developments mirrored elsewhere in Europe as well. Some emphasize the ways that cultural changes associated with urbanization increased women’s sexual vulnerability. Urban space, they argue, was male space and women who ventured into it risked their sexual reputation if not worse. For women, writes Richard Sennett, the public life of the city was ’where one risked losing virtue, dirtying oneself, being swept into ”a disorderly and heady swirl”. Elizabeth Wilson puts the issue still more starkly: ’The problem in nineteenth-century urban life’, she notes, ’was whether every woman in the new, disordered world of the city […] was not a public woman and thus a prostitute. The very presence of unattended – unowned – women constituted a threat both to male power and a temptation to male frailty’.8 Some studies of Russia’s popular urban culture appear to corroborate such observations. They suggest that lower-class men were profoundly hostile to women’s presence in public and regarded such women as fair game. Jeffrey Brooks, for example, observes that the violence commonly directed against women in popular bandit novels might have ’appealed to readers uncomfortable with the loosening of traditional family ties and with the novelty and confusion that increasing geographic and social mobility brought to relations between the sexes’. As Joan Neuberger has shown, women who ventured into urban public space at the turn of the century risked harassment, if not worse.9

  • 10 . Lina Bernstein, ’Women on the Verge of a New Language: Russian Salon Hostesses in the First Half (...)
  • 11 . Louise McReynolds and Cathy Popkin, ’The Objective Eye and the Common Good’, in Constructing Russ (...)

6Others, however, argue for the positive impact of urban culture on women. In their view, it enhanced women’s personal freedom and ability to shape their own lives. This was to some extent the case for a relative handful of noblewomen in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a period when Russia’s urban culture, an extension of noble culture, involved primarily a thin layer of noble elites. In this period, noblewomen might preside over, or attend as guests, salons held in private homes, just as elite women were doing all over Europe. Promoting culture and the unimpeded exchange of ideas, Russia’s female-led salons influenced the development of intellectual life and the nascent public sphere.10 By the end of the nineteenth century, opportunities to earn their own living, to interact with others of their sex on the shop floor, in the classroom and in the dormitory and through charitable works, to contribute to the common good, had drawn a far more numerous and socially diverse range of Russia’s women from the home.11

  • 12 . Lynda Nead, ’Gender, Space and Modernity’, in Rewriting the Self: Histories from the Renaissance (...)
  • 13 . Kuprianov, Gorodskaia kul’tura, pp. 330, 339, 349; Christine Ruane, ’Clothes Make the Comrade: A (...)
  • 14 . S. A. Smith, ’Masculinity in Transition: Peasant Migrants to Late-Imperial St Petersburg’, in Rus (...)
  • 15 . Louise McReynolds, Russia at Play: Leisure Activities at the End of the Tsarist Era (Ithaca, NY: (...)

7There, some found the freedom from the constraints of custom and community that provided women, even lower-class women, unprecedented opportunities for redefining and expressing the self, according to some historians of urban culture. ’The city should be understood as offering a set of spaces for the everyday negotiation of self and identity’, as Lynda Nead has put it.12 The democratizing effects of consumerism contributed to the process. Even in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, merchant and wealthy townswomen living in Russia’s provincial towns had adopted Western modes of dress in order to ’express their social identity’ and distinguish themselves from the common people, despite official efforts to enforce soslovie-based standards of dress. By the century’s end, working class women, too, had begun to dress and present themselves in the fashion of their social betters (and not, as in New York City, in ’hot-looking dresses’ or the ’disorderly’ shop floor fashion of their German counterparts), further blurring the social boundaries that separated elites from the masses and reducing the importance of social origins.13 New opportunities to express the self included sexual self-expression in Russia, where the cult of domesticity appears to have been less hegemonic than elsewhere in Europe. While some forms of Russia’s mass urban entertainments might foster misogyny, other forms, including pulp fiction, music halls, pleasure gardens and theatre, encouraged women’s emotional self-expression by exploring romantic love and sexual passion ’with an exuberance that was historically unprecedented’, in the words of Steve Smith.14 Among historians of Russia, Louise McReynolds has been particularly emphatic in her emphasis on the growth of the new ’middle’ and on the liberating effects for women of modernization. Considering the pursuit of pleasure as one of modernization’s key features, and incorporating into her definition of modernization forms of play such as theatre, dance halls, and other mass entertainments, she contends that these venues offered pleasure-seekers new ways of conceiving the self. For McReynolds, popular female figures, whether actresses such as Mariia Savina or singers like Anastasiia Vial’tseva, both personified and expanded the new possibilities. Thus, Vial’tseva, born a peasant in 1871, at the turn of the century sang bitter-sweet romances about sexual desire. She attracted hordes of worshipping fans and earned fabulous sums of money, which she spent lavishly and conspicuously on herself.15

  • 16 . Rachel Fuchs and Leslie Page Moch, ’Pregnant, Single, and Far from Home: Migrant Women in Ninetee (...)
  • 17 . Rose Glickman, The Russian Factory Woman: Workplace and Society, 1880–1914 (Berkeley, CA: Univers (...)
  • 18 . Bianka Pietrow-Ennker, Russlands neue Menschen: Die Entwicklung der Frauenbewegung von den Anfä (...)

8Far less attention has been paid to how ordinary women actually experienced urban culture in its many forms or how urban culture might have affected their lives. Most of what we know focuses on the female population of Brower’s ’migrant cities’, and historians’ observations, my own among them, are primarily negative. Historians have emphasized the hardships and sexual dangers that faced peasant women who left their villages, not unlike those faced by lower-class women elsewhere in Europe, too.16 We have drawn attention to the isolation from kin and community that, rather than liberating women, left them vulnerable to sexual predation and the shame of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and we have described a job market that provided only a limited range of poorly-paid and exploitative choices to women lacking skills. While acknowledging that an independent wage, however modest, might expand women’s options and provide access to new ways of presenting, imagining and enjoying the self, we have stressed limitations, not opportunities.17 Studies of women of Russia’s educated and cultured elites offer a more positive assessment of the impact of urban culture. To be sure, few such studies, whether of women students, professionals or participants in the women’s movement, address the issue of urban culture as such. Nevertheless, there seems little question that the new and sometimes unconventional forms of female behaviour increasingly visible in cities served to expand the options of educated women and their opportunities for self-expression.18

  • 19 . Barbara Alpern Engel, ’Freedom and its Limitations: A Peasant Wife Seeks to Escape her Abusive Hu (...)
  • 20 . Daniel Orlovsky, ’The Lower Middle Strata in Revolutionary Russia’, in Between Tsar and People, p (...)

9In this article, I explore the question of the impact of urban culture by looking at the experience of women who belonged to a very different milieu, that of townspeople. These women occupied a social position below that of the educated elites but above that of peasants as exemplified by Evdokiia Kulikova, whose experience of urban freedom and its limitations I have examined elsewhere and who, as a seamstress earning her own living in the city, remained a member of Russia’s labouring classes.19 Urban born and bred, the women featured in this essay were candidates for membership in Russia’s nascent and still tiny middle class. They represented a substantial segment of Russia’s urban population: 21.2 per cent of the population of St Petersburg around the turn of the century, 19.4 per cent of the population of Moscow. Constituting 10.6 per cent of the population of the Russian empire overall, townspeople were the second largest social group in Russia after the peasantry. Townspeople were far the better educated. In St Petersburg, townswomen were roughly twice as likely as peasant women to be able to read and write, and thus better positioned to take advantage of urban opportunities and enjoy urban pleasures.20

  • 21 . In English, see Elise Kimerling Wirtschafter, Social Identity in Imperial Russia (DeKalb, IL: Nor (...)

10Townswomen are a group to which historians have paid very little attention and historians of women, almost none.21 The neglect is at least partially the result of townspeople’s complicated social profile: the group is a vivid example of the anachronistic character of Russia’s system of ascribed social status. Those who belonged to the category of townspeople occupied a wide range of occupational niches. They might earn their living as merchants, tradespeople, and shopkeepers or as carpenters and other manual labourers, including factory workers and domestic servants. Although they were ’urban’ by definition, at the close of the nineteenth century perhaps ten per cent of townspeople actually supported themselves by farming.

  • 22 . Goncharov, Meshchanskoe soslovie, pp. 126–36; Zorin et al., Ocherki gorodskogo byta, pp. 93–106; (...)

11These significant economic and social differences notwithstanding, historians who have examined this group concur that its members shared a deep-seated conservatism, expressed in family practices as well as attitudes towards social and political change. Indeed, in many respects townspeople appear indistinguishable from the peasantry from which most of them, or their forebears, derived. Among townspeople, family patterns remained patriarchal in the traditional sense of the word, that is, they rested on the authority of the old over the young, as well as of men over women. Subject to the will of their parents, sons as well as daughters married according to parental wishes. Male heads of households controlled all household resources. Wife-beating was commonplace, tolerated by members of the community. Religious values shaped people’s worldview, while sexual conduct, and especially the conduct of women, remained subject to stringent community scrutiny and control.22 This milieu was likely to be especially inhospitable to female pleasure seeking, and strongly to resist female efforts to redefine and re-imagine the self.

12Yet, as this essay will also show, attitudes towards female pleasure seeking appear to have grown more tolerant over time in this milieu, with urban culture and the more individualistic values of the marketplace having a discernible impact on some women. How typical the women were remains a question that a preliminary exploration such as this one cannot answer; nevertheless, their experience suggests at the very least that much more research is needed about the culture of this group and the impact upon it of economic and related changes. At the same time, the anxieties such women aroused bear witness to the disturbing aspects of the economic and cultural changes underway, while the social and institutional strictures they encountered, which derived largely from the authoritarianism of the tsarist state, demonstrate the difficulties that might confront women who transgressed gendered norms of conduct.

  • 23 . On the chancellery and its officials, see Barbara Alpern Engel, ’In the Name of the Tsar: Competi (...)

13Rather than undertaking a broad survey, this essay will examine the impact of urban culture through three case studies of townswomen who sought to redefine their lives and escape the constraints of their milieu. The first is set in the 1880s, the second in the 1890s, and the third in the aftermath of the revolution of 1905. The women who serve as my examples are very far from typical. As wives who sought to escape unsatisfactory marriages, they were by definition unusual in a society where divorce, adjudicated by religious rather than civil courts, carried a severe social stigma and remained highly restricted. The Orthodox Church, to which the women belonged, permitted divorce only for adultery, abandonment, sexual incapacity and penal exile, and even then only reluctantly. This prompted a substantial number of unhappily married women to appeal to a different venue. The three women’s stories are drawn from the archive of the Imperial Chancellery for Receipt of Petitions (henceforward, the chancellery), which served as a kind of final court of appeals for unhappy wives unwilling or unable to satisfy the narrow grounds for divorce, but seeking release from the strictures of marital and passport law. Under Russian law, a wife owed her husband ’unlimited obedience’ and required his permission before she could take a job, enrol in an educational institution or acquire the internal passport she needed to reside more than about fifteen miles from the husband’s official place of residence. The law strictly forbade any action leading to the separation of spouses. Acting in the name of the tsar, the chancellery held the power to supersede the law forbidding spousal separation and, if investigation upheld her allegations, to allow a woman an internal passport of her own. Of the 30–40,000 unhappily married women who petitioned the tsar requesting separation between 1884 and 1914, roughly twenty-eight per cent were townswomen.23

  • 24 . Sheila Fitzpatrick, ’Editor’s Introduction: Petitions and Denunciations in Russian and Soviet His (...)

14The women who figure in this essay were atypical even of these, however. The vast majority of petitioners complained, with reason, of drunken, brutal and neglectful husbands, allegations upheld by members of their community. Couched in the language of submission, using ’the humble terms of the supplicant who trusts in the tsar’s benevolence’, women’s petitions invariably presented the petitioner as a helpless victim of (male) abuse.24 The petitions of the three women whose stories will be told below did, too. However, in their cases investigation revealed a more complicated story. These three women were not only – perhaps not even – victims, but in fact, nourished a taste for pleasure and desire for more from life, indeed a different life, than that of their parents or grandparents. The character of that ’more’ and of the women’s efforts to refashion their lives accordingly reflected the possibilities available to them in their urban settings, even as the institutional, social and cultural constraints that they faced remind us of the importance of context for understanding women’s experience of cultural change. Life could be messier, much messier, than studies of cultural transformation by themselves sometimes indicate.

Liubov’ Aleksandrova

15Constraints provide the dominant theme in the story of Liubov’ Aleksandrova. I regard her story as a good starting point, featuring as it does a literate young woman, capable of supporting herself economically, who displayed a manifest desire for pleasure and play – precisely the sort of woman for whom urban culture was likely to be enticing. But in her case, the pursuit of pleasure and desire to live as she chose was repeatedly thwarted by not only the legal constraints imposed by marriage but also limited opportunities and family and community strictures that operated even in urban areas, where women’s conduct was both controlled and scrutinized far more intensively than men’s.

  • 25 . Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii arkhiv (RGIA), f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103 (Aleksandrova, 1 (...)

16The twenty-year old Liubov’, daughter of a townswoman, petitioned the tsar in October 1882, seeking separation from Platon, her husband of two years. Platon was a widower thirty-four years Liubov’’s senior, a retired soldier and member of the hairdressers’ guild in Novgorod, the capital city of Novgorod province. He had been chosen by Liubov’’s mother in a marriage the mother arranged and to which Liubov’, although then earning her own living as a telegraph worker, dutifully acceded. Two years later, the dutifulness was no longer in evidence. Still very young and, in the opinion of the governor of Novgorod province, ’not unattractive’, married to a man almost old enough to be her grandfather, Liubov’ had a taste for good times that she indulged as best she could in a relatively small city such as Novgorod (primarily an administrative centre, with a population numbering just under 25,000). She visited the circus, drank more than was seemly during public gatherings and basked, if not more, in the attentions of other men, sometimes returning to her husband’s roof in the small hours of the morning.25 Such behaviour flagrantly violated the rules of female sexual decorum, for which male heads of households, in this instance her husband Platon, held responsibility. But when Platon sought to fulfill his masculine duty and discipline the wayward Liubov’, chastising her physically as was customary in their milieu, she fled his household.

  • 26 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103, l. 1.

17This is not the story Liubov’ told the authorities, of course. In her petition seeking separation, Liubov’, like other women appealing for relief, presented herself as an innocent and helpless victim of abuse. Platon beat and mistreated her and insulted her in public, she alleged. Once he even declared in the presence of others that Liubov’ led ’an adulterous life’. So offensive to her was this statement that Liubov’ had sued Platon for insult, an actionable offence in Russia, where a person’s public standing depended upon her or his reputation.26 Although Liubov’ claimed to have won the case, the decision showed that in fact the couple had reconciled, probably as a result of evidence that came to light in the course of the trial which cast Liubov’ in a very negative light.

18Chief among that evidence were two undated letters from Liubov’’s own mother, endeavouring in vain to bring the fun-loving Liubov’ to heel. The letters offer vivid evidence of the modest public pleasures available in a small city as well as of the opprobrium attached to women who succumbed to them. Asserting the importance of female propriety, self-denial and self-command, the letters also bear witness to the ways that individual behaviour remained far from an individual matter. Subject to intensive community scrutiny, a person’s misconduct might cast a shadow on others, on members of the offender’s family first and foremost. ’Can it be that you don’t value your reputation? Why do you let people judge you so harshly? Don’t you know that our entire neighborhood condemns you for your drinking bout [kutezh] at the circus?’ the mother rhetorically inquired.

  • 27 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103, ll. 35–36.

19’It is base and shameful of you to forget yourself that way and then to drag yourself home at three in the morning […] It’s sinful Liuda and God won’t forgive you for the indecent way you behave. You’re a young woman who should keep herself decent so that people will respect you and regard you as honourable and noble [blagorodnaia]. Don’t you know that the very men who invite you for a drink at the buffet make fun of you behind your back? […] Sooner or later you’ll lose your good name and people will despise you!’27

  • 28 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103, ll. 35, 36.

20The mother urged the daughter to accept her lot in life. In the mother’s opinion Platon had been too gentle rather than too brutal with the errant Liubov’: ’Platon is stupid and weak; someone else would have cast you off and everyone would have said good riddance’. The solution, in the mother’s opinion, was strict adherence to domestic virtues and abandonment of unseemly pleasures. ’If you have the slightest family feeling towards me’, the mother urged, ’then give up your foolishness and take a different path […]. Stay closer to home and spend less time with your girlfriends […]’. Most important of all: to make the best of one’s circumstances, rather than trying to change them: ’Not everyone lives in heaven, and family happiness depends upon ”our sister [nasha sestra]” ’.28

21Liubov’, however, was unwilling to accept her circumstances or forsake her pleasures. Indeed, if the report of an investigator can be trusted – and it is by no means clear that it can – she continued to pursue those pleasures with characteristic verve. By 1886, Liubov’ had made her way to St Petersburg and was living with her stepfather, having managed to obtain, either from her husband or from local authorities, the documents she needed to live temporarily on her own. Once again she asked the chancellery to intervene on her behalf, as her most recent passport was nearing expiry. The investigator recommended against it, certain that Liubov’ had transgressed the porous boundary that separated a night on the town from sexual commerce.

  • 29 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103, l. 22. On regulated prostitution, see Laurie Bernstein, ’Yellow T (...)
  • 30 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103, ll. 42, 45.

22Women who violated sexual norms risked more than their reputation. Since 1843, Russian law, modelled on that of France, had required all women who ’traded in vice’ to register with the police, carry a special passport (the ’yellow ticket’) and submit to regular venereal examinations; women who peddled their favours without registering were classified as clandestine or ’secret’ prostitutes, and if discovered, were often forced to register. A ’secret prostitute’ was what the investigator called Liubov’, although he provided no evidence that she obtained money in exchange for her favours or had sex with more than two men, at most. After she left her husband, he reported, Liubov’ had invited one Solov’ev to spend time with her at a hotel; after that she lived with and was supported by a telegraph worker named Osipov in what appears (to this reader) to have been a consensual union.29 All this was more than sufficient to convince officials that Liubov’ was unworthy of the emperor’s mercy. ’Although some of the evidence showed that she lived honourably in St Petersburg, investigation revealed that she engaged in ”secret prostitution” and besides, cohabits with Osipov, on whose means she lives… On account of her immoral behaviour, she does not deserve sympathy’, the report dated 28 October 1886 concluded, instructing the authorities to revoke Liubov’’s temporary passport and deny her one thereafter.30

  • 31 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103, ll. 51, 54, 56.

23Over the months that followed, Liubov’’s desperate attempts to reopen her case led nowhere. Since leaving Platon, Liubov’ claimed she had reformed completely and had not taken a drink for nearly six years, as her former employer, a Mr Fall in the city of Novgorod, could attest. The investigation upheld her story. Various St Petersburg authorities affirmed that Liubov’ now conducted herself in ’exemplary’ fashion and was known to have done nothing ’disreputable’. Nevertheless, having made up their minds as to her immoral character, officials denied her petition. ’The petitioner cried bitterly’, reported the policeman who conveyed the bad news to Liubov’. He endeavoured in vain to convince her to acknowledge her ’frivolous behaviour’ and return to her husband. And on that gloomy note, the file ends.31

Zinaida Agafonova

  • 32 . Michelle Lamarche Marrese, A Woman’s Kingdom: Noblewomen and the Control of Property in Russia, 1 (...)

24Constraints proved decisive in the case of Zinaida Agafonova, too. However, in her story the impact of urban culture is far more palpable, not only because the story unfolded in Moscow, a major urban centre where the possibilities for pleasure were more abundant, but also because it took place a decade later, when the cultural changes that accompanied urbanization and industrialization were considerably more advanced. In addition, Agafonova was in a far better position than Aleksandrova to take advantage of the opportunities the city offered. A woman who loved to enjoy herself – to dress in the latest fashions, dance, drink, and have a good time in the company of friends – Zinaida Agafonova also possessed the means to do so. This was a consequence of Russian property law, which by contrast with the laws of many Western countries, preserved married women’s right to own and manage their own property rather than granting that right to the husband.32 The daughter of a coachman and, like her husband, barely able to read and write, Zinaida had inherited a substantial sum of money at her wealthy grandmother’s death in 1893.

25At the same time, the milieu from which Zinaida derived was exceedingly traditional. Both she and Mikhail, the twenty-seven-year-old townsman she wed at her grandmother’s behest at the age of seventeen, belonged to the branch of the priestless Old Believer faith attached to the Rogozhskii cemetery in Moscow. Old Belief was a schismatic branch of Orthodoxy barely tolerated by the government. Its family practices were even more hierarchical and rigid than those that prevailed elsewhere in the lower-middle class milieu. Following their marriage in 1889, the couple moved in with Mikhail’s parents, traders in iron products who owned three houses in the city; the young couple remained there even after the birth of two daughters. When she inherited a fortune from her grandmother in 1893, Zinaida began to chafe at the ways that her husband and in-laws limited her pursuit of pleasure and a lavish lifestyle. Eager to obtain total control of her inheritance, of which her husband had been appointed guardian until she reached the age of thirty, Zinaida sought the freedom to arrange her life as she chose.

  • 33 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30 (Agafonova, Z. 1894), l. 1.
  • 34 . Carolyn Marks, ’ ”Providing Amusement for the Ladies”: The Rise of the Russian Women’s Magazine i (...)
  • 35 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30, l. 1.

26Zinaida’s aspirations are evident even in her petition. It not only presented her as an innocent and helpless victim, but also asserted rights to selfhood that fit rather awkwardly with the self-presentation of victimhood. ’I married Mikhail S. Agafonov and from the moment of my marriage my husband demanded that I transfer to him the capital that belongs to me. When I refuse, he insults me in a variety of ways’, the petition began.33 Submitted on 9 September 1894, it was composed by Zinaida and rewritten by a scribe, or so the petition claimed. In addition to emphasizing Zinaida’s suffering at her husband’s hands, the petition employed terms that echoed the language of the ’woman question’, the movement for women’s equality that began in the reign of Alexander II (1855–81) and reverberated ever more widely over the following decades. By the 1890s, watered-down versions of its ideas could be found even in popular magazines such as the widely read Messenger of Fashion (Vestnik mody), which questioned notions of women’s inferiority and extolled women’s achievements in fields such as medicine.34 Comparable ideas had clearly reached Zinaida Agafonova. Her husband’s cruel treatment was ’the result of [Mikhail’s] ineradicable understanding that he is a man, and supposedly, this gives him the right to do with me as he pleases’, the petition asserted. Abusing his authority, he had denied her ’the most ordinary pleasures’, mistreating her even when she ’just wanted to leave the house to breathe fresh air or be with my acquaintances’. Invoking a ’freedom’ to which she felt sufficiently entitled to refer to it in a petition to the tsar, she complained that Mikhail did everything in his power to wrest it from her.35

  • 36 . McReynolds, Russia at Play, pp. 6–10.
  • 37 . Stephen Lovell, Summerfolk: A History of the Dacha, 1710–2000 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Pre (...)

27Zinaida’s sense of entitlement and her desire to enjoy the ’ordinary pleasures’ available to those with money, and consume as conspicuously as her resources allowed, elicited decidedly mixed reactions from those who knew her. That some responded critically was surely due, in part, to the undeniable fact that Zinaida’s behaviour occasionally violated the rules governing female propriety and appeared disconcertingly unrefined. But then again, it is the opportunities for self-fashioning, rather than the forms that self-fashioning assumed, that for some historians constitute a positive dimension of urban culture.36 The investigation of the case, which involved the summoning of multiple witnesses, unfolded over the course of fifteen months and yielded roughly two hundred pages of evidence retained in the chancellery’s archive. It revealed not only the impact of urban culture on Zinaida Agafonova but also the anxieties that her behaviour aroused. Zinaida’s efforts to refashion her life required freeing herself from the constraints of her traditional, Old Believer milieu. Once she obtained her inheritance, she persuaded Mikhail to move out of his parents’ dwelling and into an apartment of their own. There, free of her in-laws’ restraining influence, Zinaida drew upon her wealth to mimic the lifestyle of her social betters. Thus, having been denied a ’nursemaid [niania]’ for her two daughters while living with her husband’s family, she hired not only a niania but also the more fashionable ’nursery governess [bonna]’ and a governess – a noblewoman, no less. Zinaida frequently entertained guests in the evening with wine and snacks at the couple’s apartment or at the dacha, that emblem of an urban middle-class leisured lifestyle, which they rented in Khimki during the summer, also at Zinaida’s insistence, where someone played the piano and guests danced well into the night.37 From the dacha, Zinaida frequently travelled by train to Moscow to spend the evening visiting pleasure gardens, restaurants and other commercial places of amusement. Her efforts to transform her way of life eventually extended to religion itself: a year after she petitioned, she left the Old Belief and formally converted to Russian Orthodoxy.

  • 38 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30, ll. 60–2, 128, 145.

28Zinaida’s lavish lifestyle and pursuit of her own pleasure became a source of increasingly bitter conflict with her husband Mikhail, who, because he was still guardian of her fortune, was presented with the bills. Raised in a strict and parsimonious Old Believer milieu, poorly educated and ’undeveloped [nerazvityi]’, as many witnesses put it (and indeed, his correspondence is filled with misspellings), Mikhail preferred to continue his parents’ way of life. This meant spending money only when necessary and only on essentials, and investing the rest in his parents’ business and the repair of their various properties. It enraged him when his wife engendered ’huge expenses’, to use his words, ’throwing enormous balls, and buying various expensive drinks like port and Malaga wine, and cognac at six roubles a bottle or more, and other drinks, too’. Mikhail also suffered from jealousy. The presence of young men at the couple’s evening parties provoked that feeling, as did his wife’s habit of spending time alone with one Sergei Alekseev, a married merchant in whose company Zinaida travelled on trains and visited restaurants and pleasure gardens. This behaviour prompted Mikhail to suspect that she was involved with Alekseev in a love affair (amurnichala, as Mikhail put it, creating his own verb from a noun). But Mikhail proved helpless to banish the man from his wife’s presence.38

  • 39 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30, ll. 100–01, 133, 155.

29In his dismay at Zinaida’s lifestyle, Mikhail was far from alone, however. Zinaida’s self-indulgence and her flouting of gender proprieties troubled others as well. Their reactions suggest, at the very least, that in the view of many people the new emphasis on individual gratification had by no means displaced the long-standing insistence on female propriety and self-command. Zinaida openly spent lots of money, and ’[refused] herself nothing’, disapprovingly commented the man from whom the couple rented their dacha. Maria Vereshchagina, nineteen years of age and a distant relative of Zinaida’s, who attended the dacha parties and sometimes played the piano for the assembled guests, came to dislike the ’lifestyle of that company’ and thereafter ceased her visits. In the opinion of retired captain Sergei Mironov, a recent acquaintance of the Agafonovs, Zinaida’s evening parties at the couple’s apartment were more like ’drunken orgies’. The company was carelessly chosen and exclusively by the wife. At one such gathering, Mironov observed, Mikhail Agafonov knew only a single guest sufficiently well to introduce Mironov to him.39

  • 40 . Khoroshii ton: sbornik pravil i sovetov na vse sluchai zhizni obshchestvennoi i semeinoi, 5th edn (...)
  • 41 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30, ll. 133, 141, 142.

30But it was Zinaida’s behaviour in Alekseev’s company that elicited the most opprobrium. Alekseev often accompanied Zinaida on her evening outings to town, in the absence not only of Mikhail but also of Alekseev’s own wife. Such behaviour flagrantly defied the norms of female propriety, not only those current in the Agafonovs’ own highly conservative milieu, but also those set forth in the literature of advice aimed at those who aspired to gentility, which forbade married women even to attend dinner parties or the theatre unaccompanied by their husbands. If circumstances forced a respectable woman to appear in public with another man, he must be ’as respectable an escort as possible’, literary guardians of propriety decreed.40 Most witnesses in the Agafonov case expressed their doubts about Alekseev’s respectability. Their critical comments suggest the stringent criteria applied to female behaviour and a level of public scrutiny comparable to that applied to Liubov’ Alexandrova. Thus, the seventy-year-old townswoman who, with her son, lived at the neighbouring dacha expressed shock at how freely Zinaida conducted herself in public. The woman was in the habit of sitting on the terrace of her dacha knitting all day and so was privy to the goings-on next door. She witnessed how Zinaida sat right next to Alekseev in a carriage, tussled with him on the ground, and seemed always to be imbibing alcoholic beverages in his presence. She complained that on holidays, when guests would come from Moscow to visit, the company made lots of noise, drank cognac and carried on all night. Zinaida conducted herself ’quite indecently’, in the neighbour’s opinion. Such behaviour troubled several other dacha dwellers, too.41

  • 42 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30, ll. 145, 154, 155.

31But others disagreed. They found nothing amiss in Zinaida’s conduct: in their view, she was enjoying the benefits of wealth in a socially appropriate fashion. If the couple were experiencing difficulties, these people blamed Mikhail, not Zinaida. Poorly educated, ’undeveloped’, he was simply incapable of fulfilling the demands of his wife’s more sophisticated lifestyle. Thus, in the opinion of Ivan Kulikov, another townsman, Mikhail’s lack of education was at the root of the couple’s problems: ’As an uneducated man, he was dissatisfied when his wife entertained guests with wine and snacks’. The children’s governess criticized Mikhail, too: ’He considers her every little expenditure excessive, every meal an orgy and a glass of wine, drunkenness’. Some even defended Zinaida’s habit of consuming alcohol, a matter on which the literature of advice had no light to shed. Judging moderate drinking perfectly acceptable, these witnesses regarded one, two or, even three glasses of spirits (vino) consumed in good company as nothing to make a fuss about. And while no one, with the notable exception of Alekseev’s wife, condoned Zinaida’s forays in the company of Alekseev alone, most of the witnesses who spoke in her favour chose to ignore that aspect of her conduct.42

  • 43 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30, ll. 185–87.

32So did chancellery officials, agents of a paternalistic and autocratic state though they were. While acknowledging the ’frivolity’ of Zinaida’s conduct in the company of Alekseev, they rejected allegations that the two were sexually involved. They also observed but refrained from judging her ’gay character, hospitability and love of company’ and the lifestyle that reflected it, while deeming Mikhail coarse, uneducated, undeveloped and ’calculating to the point of miserliness’. What troubled them was Zinaida’s extravagance, the ’superficial attitude towards life’ that led her to spend enormous amounts of money pursuing her own pleasures to the neglect of her children’s economic future. This was the reason officials gave for denying Zinaida the ’freedom’ she so ardently sought. Emphasizing the primacy of long-term family interests over the right of the individual to enjoy her property, they denied Zinaida’s request for a passport and restored her to her husband’s authority. However crude and stingy Mikhail might have been, he nevertheless displayed a ’much more serious attitude towards life’ than his wife, in the view of officials. He would thus be far better able than she to guard the ’material interests’ of their children and instil in them a comparable seriousness. And with that decision, the case came to a close.43

Lidiia Semenova

  • 44 . Laura Engelstein, The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Pursuit of Modernity in Fin-de-Siècle Russia (...)

33The case of Lidiia Semenova unfolded in a cultural environment in which the strictures on female conduct appear to have lessened in noteworthy ways. Although only slightly over a decade had passed since officials denied Agafonova a passport, these were the very years when the social and cultural changes associated with industrialization and urbanization became really palpable. They were reflected in the revolutionary upheavals of 1905 and intensified thereafter, as sex displaced politics at the centre of public debates.44 After 1905, too, institutional restrictions on individual mobility, such as the stringent requirements for divorce and rules governing the internal passport, eased without disappearing entirely. In March 1914, for the first time, married women gained the right to an internal passport in their own name simply by requesting it.

  • 45 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 228, d. 35 (Semenova, 1906), ll. 1, 11, 26, 27.

34Lidiia Semenova’s story reflects both continuities and changes. Born in Riga, Latvia, her father a Latvian machinist on the railroad, her mother the daughter of a carpenter, she is the first of our subjects to have taken her marital fate in her own hands and defied the long-standing tradition that empowered parents or guardians to arrange the marriages of the young. In 1900, at the age of nineteen, she married over her parents’ opposition a man ten years her senior, a supplier (postavshchik) for the Riga-Orel railroad line. Nikolai Semenov had won his bride by appealing to her thirst for pleasure and adventure. Although lacking the wherewithal to follow through, he enticed her with promises of a luxurious future and travel to the world renowned Paris Exhibition of 1900. Lidiia’s misjudgement quickly became apparent. Poorly educated, crude and prone to violence, Nikolai made their marital life a misery. After six years, Lidiia left him to live with her parents, briefly reconciled with him for the sake of their two children, and then fled again, this time to live with her lover. The details of Lidiia Semenova’s story and the outcome of her appeal reflect the changed atmosphere of the times, including the growing acceptance of individual gratification, most significantly sexual gratification, by important sectors of the public; even as her story demonstrates the continuing significance of institutional constraints on individual behaviour, these changes notwithstanding.45

  • 46 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 228, d. 35, ll. 20–21.

35As it had in the previous cases, the issue of women’s sexual propriety figured prominently in the case of Lidiia Semenova. That Lidiia had become sexually involved with a man other than her husband there could be no question. The lover, N.M.K, as he is referred to in the chancellery’s documents, was a townsman like the husband, employed by the Konshin textile magnates in Moscow. When exactly he became Lidiia’s lover remains unclear, but that they were passionately involved is evident in the letters K. sent her, and which Nikolai purloined: ’I kiss you in the place that only I can kiss and press you to my breast’, K. declared in one of them. Encouraging Lidiia to abandon Nikolai for good, K. instructed her on how best to obtain her freedom. First, she must gain Nikolai’s permission to travel abroad; then, ’using all your knowledge and cleverness’ demonstrate to him that if he could allow her to go off (udirat’) without him abroad, then Nikolai could also approve a long-term internal passport for her at home.46 Several witnesses concurred that Lidiia had begun living with NMK after leaving her husband’s roof.

  • 47 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 228, d. 35, ll. 27, 31, 34.

36But people also withheld judgment of this behaviour, perhaps because strictures had eased or perhaps because Semenova lived ’respectably’ with K. Having conducted undercover surveillance of Lidiia’s conduct, a Moscow police officer reported that she ’has a good character, and lives on the support of the Moscow townsman N.M.K., who is her lover’. Emphasizing that she had become involved (soshlis’) with her lover only after parting from her husband, the testimony of witnesses, too, indicates a greater hesitancy to condemn extra-marital sexual conduct, or at least extra-marital conduct eventuating in a stable union, than was evident in the previous cases. A retired Major-General, resident in Riga, declared ’categorically’ that Lidiia had remained chaste before leaving her husband. And if she took a lover afterwards, he continued, ’then that is completely normal, a natural result of the coarse and vulgar behavior of the husband’. A collegiate secretary resident in Moscow, another witness, likewise acknowledged without negative commentary her involvement with K., of whom the witness had ’the highest opinion’. The two planned to marry once Lidiia gained a divorce, he asserted.47

  • 48 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 228, d. 35, l. 36.

37The change was even evident in the language of chancellery officials, albeit to a far lesser degree. Initially, they were staunch defenders of the chastity of wives whether or not they cohabited with their husbands and prepared to punish women who strayed by refusing them a passport, however brutal and neglectful the husband may have been and however ’respectable’ the new relationship. In the mid-1890s, however, officials had begun to moderate their stance. The new moderation is evident in the language with which they described Semenova’s behaviour and in the resolution of her case. After leaving Nikolai, the officials’ decision declared, she had become involved in an ’illicit [nezakonnaia] attachment with K., with whom she continues to live’, but otherwise had done ’nothing reprehensible’. As for Nikolai Semenov, he too had been unfaithful in 1907, having formed a ’criminal [prestupnaia] connection’ with a domestic servant. In view of Semenova’s own ’reprehensible conduct’ (a reference to the liaison), officials were unwilling to approve her passport. But they did ensure that she would be able to live separately from her husband, obtaining permission for this from the Moscow City governor.48 It thus remained difficult for Lidiia to travel about freely and impossible for her to go abroad as she had requested several times. But the governor’s permission did preserve her from the police harassment so often endured by wives who lacked an internal passport in their own name.

  • 49 . Gregory Freeze, ’Profane Narratives about a Holy Sacrament: Marriage and Divorce in Late Imperial (...)
  • 50 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 228, d. 35, ll. 25, 41.

38Lidiia’s individual freedom was further constrained by the stringent requirements for divorce. To be sure, these, too, had eased significantly by the early years of the twentieth century. Divorce had become far more accessible to moneyed couples prepared to collude in demonstrating adultery, the most common grounds for divorce.49 But Nikolai Semenov was unwilling to collude, despite his wife’s ardent appeals. In a letter of 24 October 1907, Lidiia had pleaded with him not to obstruct her divorce suit. Appealing to Nikolai’s heart for the sake of the ’happy moments’ that perhaps she had provided him during their years together, she declared her unwillingness to return to him under any circumstances, in light of ’the hell that arose’ when they lived together, especially towards the end. Since cohabitation was impossible, she requested her ’freedom’ and begged Nikolai not to contest a divorce: ’Why should you cause me extra trouble, extra expenses – there is already a lot of grief and tears in this world. For the last time, I ask you not to oppose a divorce, and return my freedom to me’. Nikolai evidently refused. In 1910, when Lidiia appealed to the chancellery one final time, Nikolai was still her husband, and she was living on the short-term passports he permitted her.50

39These three stories bear witness to the social mobility engendered by the changes of the late nineteenth century and offer support for both the positive and negative assessments of urban culture and its impact on women in Russia. On the positive side, the new and more individualized values of the marketplace appear to have fostered new desires and encouraged Agafonova and Semenova to assert them, much as consumer culture did for Tania, the young peasant woman whom Worobec depicts. But urban life and its blandishments offered all three of these pleasure-loving townswomen far more varied opportunities to indulge their desires than were to be found in a peasant village, and encouraged the three to break free of the constraints imposed by family and community and refashion their lives better to suit themselves. On the negative, the stories of Aleksandrova and Agafonova, in particular, provide evidence of the anxieties aroused by unattended – ’unowned’ – women in the city, while that of Semenova suggests that over time, such anxieties may have eased.

40But these three stories also draw attention to factors affecting the lives of women that cultural historians often neglect. It is true that the source base for this essay, women’s appeals for marital separation, has a built-in bias towards structural limitations on freedom. These are not only failed marriages, but failed marriages in which the husband, for whatever reason, refused to permit his wife to live as she pleased. The sample omits couples that lived happily or parted amicably and leaves out single women altogether. Still, if the source base is biased, the limitations these stories reveal were real enough. They remind us that while cultural change may offer new ways of conceiving and expressing the self, individuals also act within the social and institutional structures of their particular time and place, which, like material realities, constrain as well as enable their choices.

Notes

1 . ’Introduction’, in The City in Central Europe: Culture and Society from 1800 to the Present, ed. by Malcolm Gee, Tim Kirk and Jill Steward (Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1999), p. 4 and Klaus Tenfelde, ’Urbanization and the Spread of an Urban Culture in Germany in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century’, in Towards an Urban Nation: Germany since 1780, ed. by Friedrich Lenger (New York: Berg, 2002), pp. 26–34.

2 Daniel R. Brower, The Russian City Between Tradition and Modernity, 1850–1900 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990), pp. 30–51 (37).

3 . Brower, The Russian City, pp. 75–91.

4 . See Gregory Freeze, ’The Soslovie (Estate) Paradigm and Russian Society History’, American Historical Review, 91 (1986), 11–36.

5 . Brower, The Russian City, pp. 137, 153, 149, 160.

6 . Aleksandr I. Kupriianov, Gorodskaia kul’tura russkoi provintsii: konets XVIII-pervaia polovina XIX veka (Moscow: Novyi khronograf, 2007). On fragmentation, see Alfred J. Rieber, ’The Sedimentary Society’, in Between Tsar and People: Educated Society and the Quest for Public Identity in Late Imperial Russia, ed. by Edith W. Clowes, Samuel D. Kassow, and James L. West (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), pp. 343–66.

7 . Sally West, ’The Material Promised Land: Advertising’s Modern Agenda in Late Imperial Russia’, Russian Review, 57. 3 (1998), 345–63; Steve Smith and Catriona Kelly, ’Commercial Culture and Consumerism’, in Constructing Russian Culture in the Age of Revolution: 1881–1940, ed. by Catriona Kelly and David Shepherd (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 106–55; Catriona Kelly, Refining Russia: Advice Literature, Polite Culture and Gender from Catherine to Yeltsin (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).

8 . Richard Sennett, The Fall of Public Man: On the Social Psychology of Capitalism (New York: Vintage, 1974), p. 23; Elizabeth Wilson, The Contradictions of Culture: Cities, Culture, Women (London: Sage, 2001), p. 74. See also Deborah Epstein Nord, Walking the Victorian Streets: Women, Representation and the City (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995), pp. 3–4 and Elizabeth Munson, ’Walking on the Periphery: Gender and the Discourse of Modernization’, Journal of Social History, 36 (2002), 63–75.

9 . Jeffrey Brooks, When Russia Learned to Read: Literacy and Popular Literature, 1861–1917 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985), p. 188; Joan Neuberger, Hooliganism: Crime, Culture and Power in St Petersburg, 1900–1914 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 29, 31–32, 37, 80, 104, 114, 124–25, 228. See also Catriona Kelly, ’A Stick with Two Ends, or, Misogyny in Popular Culture: A Case Study of the Puppet Text ”Petrushka” ’, in Sexuality and the Body in Russian Culture, ed. by Jane Costlow and Judith Vowles (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 73–96 and ’ ”Better Halves”? Representations of Women in Russian Urban Popular Entertainments, 1870–1900’, in Women and Society in Russia and the Soviet Union, ed. by Linda Harriet Edmondson, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 5–31; Brower, The Russian City, p. 144 and Roshanna Sylvester, ’Cultural Transgressions, Bourgeois Fears: Violent Crime in Odessa’s Central Entertainment District’, Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, 44 (1996), 503–21.

10 . Lina Bernstein, ’Women on the Verge of a New Language: Russian Salon Hostesses in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century’, in Russia. Women. Culture, ed. by Helena Goscilo and Beth Holmgren (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996), pp. 209–24.

11 . Louise McReynolds and Cathy Popkin, ’The Objective Eye and the Common Good’, in Constructing Russian Culture, pp. 57–99 (65–66).

12 . Lynda Nead, ’Gender, Space and Modernity’, in Rewriting the Self: Histories from the Renaissance to the Present, ed. by Roy Porter (New York: Routledge, 1997), pp. 167–85 (185).

13 . Kuprianov, Gorodskaia kul’tura, pp. 330, 339, 349; Christine Ruane, ’Clothes Make the Comrade: A History of the Russian Fashion Industry’, Russian History/Histoire Russe, 23 (1996), 311–43. For the comparison, see Barbara Alpern Engel, Between the Fields and the City: Women, Work and Family in Russia, 1861–1914 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 155.

14 . S. A. Smith, ’Masculinity in Transition: Peasant Migrants to Late-Imperial St Petersburg’, in Russian Masculinities in History and Culture, ed. by Barbara Evans Clements, Rebecca Friedman and Dan Healey (New York: Palgrave, 2002), pp. 94–112 (105).

15 . Louise McReynolds, Russia at Play: Leisure Activities at the End of the Tsarist Era (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003), pp. 5–6, 113–31; Louise McReynolds, ’The ”Incomparable” Vial’tseva and the Culture of Personality’, in Russia. Women. Culture, pp. 273–91.

16 . Rachel Fuchs and Leslie Page Moch, ’Pregnant, Single, and Far from Home: Migrant Women in Nineteenth-Century Paris’, American Historical Review, 95. 4 (1990), 1009–31.

17 . Rose Glickman, The Russian Factory Woman: Workplace and Society, 1880–1914 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1984); David Ransel, Mothers of Misery: Child Abandonment in Russia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988); Engel, Between the Fields and the City.

18 . Bianka Pietrow-Ennker, Russlands neue Menschen: Die Entwicklung der Frauenbewegung von den Anfängen bis zur Oktoberrevolution (Frankfurt: Campus, 1999); Irina Iukina, Russkii feminizm kak vyzov sovremennosti (St Petersburg: Aleteiia, 2008).

19 . Barbara Alpern Engel, ’Freedom and its Limitations: A Peasant Wife Seeks to Escape her Abusive Husband’, in The Human Tradition in Imperial Russia, ed. by Christine Worobec (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2009), pp. 115–27.

20 . Daniel Orlovsky, ’The Lower Middle Strata in Revolutionary Russia’, in Between Tsar and People, pp. 248–68 (249–50). On comparative literacy, see S.-Peterburg po perepisi 15 dekabria 1890, 4 vols (St Petersburg: Gorodskaia uprava, 1891–92), ch. 1, vyp. 1, pp. 82, 84; Petrograd po perepisi naseleniia 15 dekabria 1910 goda, ed. by V. V. Stepanova (Petrograd: Gorodskaia uprava, 1914-), pp. 138–39. No end date is given. Publication remained incomplete.

21 . In English, see Elise Kimerling Wirtschafter, Social Identity in Imperial Russia (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1997), pp. 134–36. In Russian, see Iurii M. Goncharov and Vadim S. Chutchev, Meshchanskoe soslovie zapadnoi Sibiri vtoroi poloviny XIX-nachala XX v. (Barnaul: Az Buka, 2004); A. N. Zorin et al., Ocherki gorodskogo byta dorevoliutsionnogo Povolzh’ia (Ul’ianovsk: Izdatel’stvo Srednevolzhskogo nauchnogo tsentra, 2000); and Boris N. Mironov, Sotsial’naia istoriia Rossii perioda imperii (XVIII-nachalo XX v.) Genezis lichnosti, demokraticheskoi sem’i, grazhdanskogo obshchestva i pravovogo gosudarstva, 3rd edn, 2 vols (St Petersburg: Dmitrii Bulanin, 2003) I, 110–22; 332–45.

22 . Goncharov, Meshchanskoe soslovie, pp. 126–36; Zorin et al., Ocherki gorodskogo byta, pp. 93–106; 291–92.

23 . On the chancellery and its officials, see Barbara Alpern Engel, ’In the Name of the Tsar: Competing Legalities and Marital Conflict in Late Imperial Russia’, Journal of Social History, 77 (2005), 70–96.

24 . Sheila Fitzpatrick, ’Editor’s Introduction: Petitions and Denunciations in Russian and Soviet History’, Russian History/Histoire Russe, 24 (1997), 1–9 (4, 6).

25 . Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii arkhiv (RGIA), f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103 (Aleksandrova, 1881), l. 22.

26 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103, l. 1.

27 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103, ll. 35–36.

28 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103, ll. 35, 36.

29 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103, l. 22. On regulated prostitution, see Laurie Bernstein, ’Yellow Tickets and State-Licensed Brothels: The Tsarist Government and the Regulation of Urban Prostitution’, in Health and Society in Revolutionary Russia, ed. by Susan Gross Solomon and John F. Hutchinson (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), pp. 45–65 and Engel, Between the Fields and the City, pp. 166–97.

30 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103, ll. 42, 45.

31 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 103, ll. 51, 54, 56.

32 . Michelle Lamarche Marrese, A Woman’s Kingdom: Noblewomen and the Control of Property in Russia, 1700–1861 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002).

33 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30 (Agafonova, Z. 1894), l. 1.

34 . Carolyn Marks, ’ ”Providing Amusement for the Ladies”: The Rise of the Russian Women’s Magazine in the 1880s’, in An Improper Profession: Women, Gender and Journalism in Late Imperial Russia, ed. by Barbara T. Norton and Jehanne Gheith (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001), pp. 93–119 (110–12).

35 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30, l. 1.

36 . McReynolds, Russia at Play, pp. 6–10.

37 . Stephen Lovell, Summerfolk: A History of the Dacha, 1710–2000 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003), pp. 4–5.

38 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30, ll. 60–2, 128, 145.

39 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30, ll. 100–01, 133, 155.

40 . Khoroshii ton: sbornik pravil i sovetov na vse sluchai zhizni obshchestvennoi i semeinoi, 5th edn. (St Petersburg: German Goppe, 1910), p. 53.

41 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30, ll. 133, 141, 142.

42 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30, ll. 145, 154, 155.

43 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 30, ll. 185–87.

44 . Laura Engelstein, The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Pursuit of Modernity in Fin-de-Siècle Russia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992).

45 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 228, d. 35 (Semenova, 1906), ll. 1, 11, 26, 27.

46 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 228, d. 35, ll. 20–21.

47 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 228, d. 35, ll. 27, 31, 34.

48 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 228, d. 35, l. 36.

49 . Gregory Freeze, ’Profane Narratives about a Holy Sacrament: Marriage and Divorce in Late Imperial Russia’, in Sacred Stories: Religion and Spirituality in Modern Russia, ed. by Mark D. Steinberg and Heather J. Coleman (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007), pp. 146–78.

50 . RGIA, f. 1412, op. 228, d. 35, ll. 25, 41.

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