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A Life Under Russian Serfdom

Boris B. Gorshkov

Notes on the translation

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1This translation is directed at the general reader as well as at scholars and students of Russian history, peasant studies, or serfdom. Wherever possible the translation provides bibliographic notes, references, and suggested further reading on the events, individual persons, places, and things mentioned in the memoirs. Reference notes contain basic facts regarding events, places, or people in order to help the general reader with the historical setting The further reading suggested in the references will help students and scholars with additional historical investigation.

2The translation assumes that most readers do not read Russian. In most instances I have therefore used the English equivalents for Russian terms, which follow immediately in parentheses. In most cases I have used the standard Library of Congress method for the transliteration of the Russian spellings of Russian given names, patronymics (middle names), and surnames. Customarily, in Russia people have three names: the given (first) name, the middle name (patronymic), and the surname (family name). For example, the autobiographer’s full name is Savva Dmitrievich Purlevskii. The Russian middle name (patronymic) is derived from the father’s given name. Along with the person’s given name, the patronymic is used as a polite or formal form of address. In his memoir, Purlevskii often uses patronymics. In a few cases, the memoirist wrote only first initials when he wanted to conceal a person’s full name. In these instances, where it was possible to identify the mentioned individuals, I have provided their full names in the notes. The names of certain historical figures, such as Catherine the Great, are given in an anglicized spelling form. Names of cities, places, and rivers are given in a manner familiar to those who read English.

3Direct transliteration is used for the titles of Russian-language publications in those notes that contain suggested further reading. I am assuming that the further reading suggestions will be taken up mostly by specialists in Russian, studies who are familiar with Russian. For those with no knowledge of Russian, I have provided titles of a few English-language studies.

4Throughout his memoir Purlevskii uses many specific expressions, idioms, and slang, peculiar to a Russian commoner living during the first half of the nineteenth century. My principal task was to preserve the original meaning. Therefore, whenever possible, I have used direct translations. Otherwise I have sought American or English equivalents, providing a note with the original Russian version for those who read Russian.

5All dates are given in the Russian (pre-1917) calendar of the period, which was used in the original text. This calendar was thirteen days behind the Western and modern Russian calendar.

© Central European University Press, 2005

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