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Reading Russia, vol. 1

 | 
Damiano Rebecchini
, 
Raffaella Vassena

Part I. The Long Eighteenth Century

The Eighteenth Century: From Reading Communities to the Reading Public

Gary Marker

Texte intégral

  • 1 M. de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley, 1984). See also J. Ahearne, Michel de Cer (...)

“To write is to produce the text; to read is to receive it from someone else without putting one’s own mark on it, without remaking it.” (Michel de Certeau, The Practices of Everyday Life, 169)
“Reading is as it were overprinted by a relationship of forces (between teachers and pupils, or between consumers and producers) whose instrument it becomes.” (Ibid.,
171)
“…reading has no place… [the reader’s] place is not here or there, one or the other… simultaneously inside and outside… associating texts like funerary statues that he awakens and hosts, but never owns. In that way he escapes from the law of each text in particular, and from that of the social milieu.” (Ibid.,
174)1

Introduction

1The chronology of this chapter traces Russia’s ‘long eighteenth century’ (more-or-less from the last quarter of the seventeenth century through 1801). It begins, however, with a brief digression drawn from Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life (1984). The book includes a slim but insightful chapter entitled “Reading as Poaching” that, at least as I read it, offers a valuable crafting conceptual space for thinking about the history of reading, Russia included.

2De Certeau saw reading fundamentally as a quotidian practice, whose social meaning was shaped inextricably within cultural and institutional relations of power and inequality. He argued strenuously against two alternative forms of over-determined reasoning that find their way into the scholarship. First, he largely rejected the vision of the autonomous or unconstrained reader capable of creating meaning from texts utterly independent of the forces of authority that frame the reading in the first place. On the contrary, the authority of “the media,” he insists, functions much like catechisms, shaping and delimiting how one reads and understands. He was equally censorious about the opposite extreme, however, that reduces the reader to little more than a vessel, a passive object of the text itself and the larger forces that produced it. He imagined a type of reading that was and is not confined by “the law” of the text, but that, instead, “poaches” from it, in essence creating meanings out of the text (or combinations of text) not necessarily anticipated by those who produced them. In other words, the history of reading must simultaneously accommodate the force of top-down prescription and the incapacity of that prescription to be absolute. For the purposes of this chapter, let us term this principle of indeterminacy ‘de Certeau’s Paradox.’

  • 2   De Certeau, 165-69. Robert Darnton addressed the questions of potential sources and methods more (...)
  • 3   De Certeau, 169.

3De Certeau further insisted that these social and cultural practices need be studied empirically, by way of documentary evidence, and free of the positivistic trappings of objectivism.2 But how? If an individual’s reading is massively preconditioned (de Certeau dubbed this “scriptural imperialism”), shaped to a large extent by phenomena external to what takes place when eye meets text, how can it also be “autonomous” (again, de Certeau’s term3), i.e., not simply a product of those mighty forces but rather cognitively generated within the act of reading itself, how shall we proceed? How do we as historians of reading accommodate the simultaneity of heterogeneity, or the fragmentation of reading, and cultural disciplining by those clerical and lay elites who presided over the circulation of texts? Equally important, how do we go about situating our work along this broad and sometimes maze-like continuum and still remain attentive to the contextual specificities of Russia?

  • 4   See Kislova, “What, How and Why the Orthodox Clergy Read in Eighteenth-Century Russiain the pre (...)
  • 5   See Ospovat, “Reforming Subjects” in the present volume. 
  • 6   See Grigoryan, “The Depiction of Readers and Publics in Russian Periodicals, 1769-1839” in the pr (...)
  • 7   See Zorin, “A Reading Revolution?” in the present volume.

4This set of tensions—disciplining vs. re-creative autonomy, theory vs. irreducible empiricism convey a vision of the multiplicities and indeterminacies of reading practices that in many ways frames this chapter. I would further argue that they tacitly constitute an ongoing set of themes that weave their way through many, if not all, the contributions to this volume. The richly documented chapters by Reitblat, Kozlov, Kislova, Leibov and Vdovin, for example, strongly emphasize the empirical.4 By contrast, Kirill Ospovat’s chapter inclines in the other direction by addressing reading in the first half of the eighteenth century as an exercise of prescription. Employing the Foucauldian lens of social control, what Ospovat calls “the monarchy’s top-down disciplining effort,” he shows both the formal authority of the state and the nascent moral authority of lay literati aggressively sought to shape not simply what people read but how.5 Closely related to this analysis is Bella Grigoryan’s perusal of what might be termed the imagined reader and readership as reflected in contributions to literary journals.6 Similarly, Andrei Zorin’s essay explores the narrative strategies and language through which authors of the Sentimentalist Age framed the emotional qualities of the ideal reader within their fiction.7 If not exactly decrees, these formulations were nonetheless thoroughly prescriptive, commanded rather than merely suggested. And if not quite synaptic, Zorin’s analysis does make a direct link between reading and the body.

  • 8   See Waugh, “How Might we Write a History of Reading in Pre-Eighteenth-Century Russia?” in the pre (...)
  • 9   See Baudin, “Reading in Russia in the Times of Catherine II” in the present volume.

5From de Certeau’s perspective, the next questions should be: do the empirical and conceptual analyses converge? How well did disciplining succeed? Did readers succumb to these “laws,” did they “become their instrument[s],” or did they remake them? As if in response, several of the chapters, in particular the previous essay on Muscovy by Daniel Waugh8 but also several of those that follow addressing more modern times, seem rather closer to the notion of autonomy, at times revealing a pastiche of unanticipated, even eccentric, reader responses that defy overarching models. Were these surprising reformulations, his chapter seems to inquire, functioning outside the prescriptive norms, and if so, how and why? Rodolphe Baudin’s concept of an “inner tension” between production and consumption, seems to embrace his spirit of indeterminacy.9 He even complicates matters further by observing (quite rightly) that literati themselves imagined readers as “autonomous,” “Adults” engaging in an “emancipatory practice”. This sense of reading indeterminacy recurs, at least by implication, in several essays on late periods through notions of “guided reading”. “adjusted reading,” “the other readers,” “reading milieux,” reading as “misunderstanding,” etc. So, de Certeau hovers throughout, if mostly as unnamed muse.

6The scholarship on reading in Muscovite and Imperial Russia, has come quite far over the past twenty or so years, both in terms of its fields of inquiry and in the volume of basic research. Reading and readers has become complicated, non- and even anti-paradigmatic, such that it may be unrealistic, at least for now, to talk about reading during this time period in holistic or broadly interpretive terms. Several years have elapsed, I should note, since literacy, print culture, and readers constituted the central focus of my scholarship, and I do not offer any fresh research of my own here. Instead, what follows are my own somewhat individual reflections on the state of the field, changes that have taken place in the historiography, open questions (quite a few of these), possible avenues for future research, and whether some of the current scholarship might point toward a rethinking of long-held assumptions about the patterns of eighteenth-century reading and the contexts within which it occurred: sociological (to which I remain partial), cultural, and institutional.

7The sections are arranged topically and thematically, with a heavy emphasis on current scholarship, but each is informed by an overarching set of questions. Was there a chronological shape or trajectory to this history of reading(s) during the long and turbulent eighteenth century, or was it fundamentally too fragmented to allow for that? Did the rise of absolutism, Enlightenment, educated society effectively frame or direct reading, whether it be individual or collective? I offer some provisional and open-ended propositions on how one might conceptualize the changing terrain of Russian reading given the current state of the field, and on how the history of reading might intersect with and possibly inform recent challenges to some of the traditional frameworks of Russian history, and, of course, vice versa.

1. Re-periodization: reading and the early modern

  • 10   See as an example the Slavic Review forum “Divides and Ends: Periodizing the Early Modern in Russ (...)

8Over the past couple of decades eighteenth-century Russian studies has been pushed out of its comfort zone, buffeted by pointed challenges from a number of scholarly quarters. These iconoclasts raise doubts about precisely how and where to situate the eighteenth century within the longue durée of Russian history. Some reject the cherished vision of the eighteenth century as radically transformative, the temporal crucible of Russia’s modernity. They bluntly question just how different the eighteenth century was from Muscovy, with at least one medievalist boldly concluding that the eighteenth century constituted little more than a continuation of Muscovy, that in the end “Peter the Great didn’t matter.”10 Not surprisingly, eighteenth-century specialists have either begged to differ, or, more typically, have avoided the subject completely. Other critics have been more circumspect, but they too have concluded that the basic direction of state formation, physical expansion, social institutions, and ideology were in place much earlier, and that the eighteenth century constituted little more than a continuation of dynamics already set in motion.

  • 11   See inter alia Matthew P. Romaniello, The Elusive Empire: Kazan and the Creation of Russia, 1552- (...)

9Recent books on empire also lean in this direction, arguing that the basic drive toward and framework of empire, a multi-confessional and multi-peopled realm ruled by Moscow, emerged well before Peter the Great, no later than the conquest of Kazan’ and, in the eyes of some, as early as the reign of Ivan III.11

10In place of the traditional Drevniaia Rus’/ Rossiiskaia Imperiia chronological antinomy (Ancient Russia/Russian Empire, familiarly termed `the Petrine Divide’), ever more historians now speak of an early modern era (rannee novoe vremia), spanning Muscovy through the eighteenth century. Indeed, the idea that there was such a thing as a discernible phenomenon called ‘old Russian culture’ spanning from Saint Vladimir in the tenth century through Tsar’ Aleksei Mikhailovich in the seventeenth, and that this old Russian culture constituted a shared set of beliefs and practices across centuries has largely been set aside, even though there is as yet no widely accepted alternative on the horizon.

  • 12   See, for example, Irina Pozdeeva’s most recent writings on Muscovite printing, in which she portr (...)

11These revisionary approaches have begun to have a modest impact on current Russian book studies.12 At a minimum the field has become much more aware of the difficulty of drawing clear separations between one period and the next, no matter how insistently Peter the Great commanded renovatio. The porous and constructed nature of chronology is one important theme of this chapter, which in several places inquires what differentiated eighteenth century reading and readerships from that of earlier times. In the end I find it impossible to imagine the book culture of the eighteenth century without constantly referencing the seventeenth, an outlook that shapes the totality of this chapter. As a result, some of the narrative threads developed in the first chapter by Daniel Waugh, as well as quite a few of the works cited there (e.g., the formidable studies by I. V. Pozdeeva), reappear here, sometimes as reinforcement, other times with a slightly different inflection. The Viatka sacristan Semen Popov, about whom Waugh has written so extensively, and who straddled the seventeenth-century fin de siècle without much concern about which foot stood in which epoch, also makes a cameo appearance in this chapter. Similarly, the meaning of inscriptions, so fundamental to reconstructing reading practices in Rus’ continues to preoccupy eighteenth-century studies, where it flows ultimately into the analysis of subscriptions. The two simply cannot be neatly disentangled, neither methodologically nor chronologically. These narrative overlaps are unavoidable and—dare we say it?—productive consequences of the very demystification of chronology that the current periodization debate evokes. Our common goal is to interrogate old certainties and to encourage further discussion rather than to command closure.

12Other challenges have taken direct aim at a second mighty pillar of this historiographic convention: secularization. The conviction that Peter the Great tore asunder Rus’ fundamental unifying spirituality (dukhovnost’) and thereby initiated Russia’s Age of Enlightenment had been an interpretive truism for many generations of scholars. Some embraced the change, others bemoaned it, but almost everyone agreed that the Petrine era constituted an epistemic shift from faith-centered to secular and reason-centered outlooks among the growing ranks of educated elites. This presumption reigned supreme, one of the relative handful of modernization models that drew adherents from all sides, Soviet and non-Soviet historians alike. It defined our approaches, shaped our research questions, and framed what we chose to look at.

  • 13   A. A. Andreeva, ‘Mestnik Bozhii’ na tsarskom trone. Khristianskaia tsivilizatsionnaia model’ sakr (...)

13During the long reign of this paradigm, clerical figures, when they drew any mention at all in the mainstream of scholarship, were discussed almost exclusively from the perspective of state building, institutions, political ideology (Feofan Prokopovich for example), and occasionally political dissent. Alternatively, religious hierarchs were assessed against a yardstick of national progress defined as rationalism, education, and Enlightenment, sometimes passing muster, other times not. But the fact that they were clergy, and that their outlook was at heart pastoral, defined by a salvation-centered Orthodoxy, largely fell out of the conversation, except in the subfield of works specializing on church history or those published in explicitly Orthodox venues. As recently as 2002 a searching study of the sacralization of tsarist authority which deemed religious discourse to be foundational to tsarist sovereignty nevertheless concluded that the Petrine era marked the end of the line, during and after which with sacred images giving way to secular ones.13 Religious sensibilities among lay literati drew even less attention (except as literary metaphors or tropes), a casualty of an entrenched teleology that situated the lay elites of the eighteenth century on a one-way developmental ladder leading up to the emergence of the intelligentsia in the mid-nineteenth century.

  • 14   The essay “Tsar’ i Bog” is perhaps the most influential example, but the two of them, both togeth (...)
  • 15   V. Zhivov, Iz tserkovnoi istorii vremen Petra Velikogo. Issledovaniia i materialy (Moscow, 2004). (...)

14This aversion to examining religiosity among eighteenth-century lay elites has now changed, and quite dramatically, thanks in no small measure to very fundamental questions first posed in the 1970s and 1980s by several Tartu- and Moscow-school semioticians, most prominently Viktor Zhivov and Boris Uspenskii. Their seminal articles placed the concept of sacrality at the very center of their inquiry into key terms.14 Subsequently Zhivov wrote a searching study of Stefan Iavorskii, tellingly entitled On the History of The Church in the Time of Peter the Great (Iz tserkovnoi istorii vremen Petra Velikogo). The book contained politics aplenty, but its overarching premise was to examine Iavorskii primarily as a pastoral figure rather than as a mostly political ideologist, and to situate him within ongoing theological issues confronting Orthodoxy in Russia and elsewhere, in his day.15

15Most historians tend to proceed cautiously, and are prudently wary of embracing the latest ‘turn’ in historical epistemology. But much like our colleagues of the European Enlightenment, we too are increasingly writing religion back into the text of cultural and intellectual analysis. This scholarly rediscovery of spirituality and religious discourse is quite welcome, at least in my view, in that it reveals the vitality of Orthodoxy-as-cultural-production throughout the eighteenth century. It broadens the field of inquiry in very productive ways, and most assuredly in the study of reading and writing. Here I would point to the chapter by Ekaterina Kislova that analyzes clerical reading among theological seminarians, not as a subset of life in the metropoles or as part of an overly homogenized notion of an Enlightenment-framed `obshchestvo,’ but instead as an object of study in itself. As in empire studies, rethinking secularity implicitly revisits the very idea of a Petrine—in this case cultural—revolution and thereby obliges us to take seriously the uncomfortable question posed above about how much the eighteenth century really mattered. To date, though, the religious turn in Russian historiography, at least for the eighteenth century, has not generated the sort of groundbreaking reconceptualization that we see elsewhere.

16These varied attempts to reformulate the underlying assumptions of our field are timely. How, then, might they relate to the history of reading? Does the concept of an early modern, for example, undermine the conventional wisdom that the reading public of the eighteenth century, and especially the reign of Catherine the Great, constituted a sharp divide from what preceded it? Alternatively, if we accept a more pluralist definition of reading, or a space of reading that admits the continued and even enlarged vitality of Orthodox learning and texts, does the appearance of a public, or the very idea of a public, suddenly seem less epoch-making than we have long imagined? If we are to integrate the history of reading with the so-called ‘big questions,’ these are timely matters to ponder.

2. Legibility and visibility

  • 16   This formulation comes from S. Strättling’s Allegorien der Imagination: Lesarkeit und Sichtarkeit (...)
  • 17   On Russian history and the visual turn see the introductory comment, “Russian History after the V (...)

17The very definition of reading, and the practices that might be subsumed within it, has grown more elastic in recent years. In the process it has become more difficult to bracket empirically. To give one major example, ever more scholars now embrace the so-called `visual turn,’ i.e., the proposition that visual texts were in some fundamental way read, that, like verbal texts, their meanings were not forever fixed or frozen by their creators but instead were appropriated and re-appropriated in visual dialogue with their audiences, their readers. I find the equation of visibility and legibility compelling.16 And yet, integrating it into historical narratives is no simple matter.17 For one, visuals-as-reading necessitates decoupling reading and literacy, an almost unthinkable proposition a generation or two ago. What does it mean to `read’ images vis-à-vis merely seeing them, or vis-à-vis reading words?; how, in our disciplinary imaginations were they/are they read?; and who constitutes the reader(s)? Like sounds, visuals surround us, they occur every day, everywhere, to everyone: on walls of churches, household icons, on the streets, in books or codexes (words, after all, are also visual), as broadsheets, graffiti, etc. Churches, bell towers, walls, streetscapes, attire, all constitute sites of potential meaning, and scholars these days are taking full advantage of this type of textualization to produce some stunning readings of their own of Muscovite and early Imperial culture. Simon Franklin’s chapter in this volume, on reading the streets and signage, explores multiple aspects of this theme of the interplay of word and image in public spaces.

  • 18   M. Levitt, The Visual Dominant in Eighteenth-Century Russia (DeKalb Illinois, 2011). Levitt is pr (...)

18Even as we recognize that alphabets and images are both vision-dependent systems for communicating meaning, that both start with the eyes (a point exquisitely made by Franklin’s concept of a `graphosphere’), one is still confronted with the fact that they are different from one another. Unlike reading words, which requires an acquired range of skills involving both decoding and understanding (literacy) in order to decode any meaning at all, images do not. The sign systems are complex and fundamental, of course, but most people manage to look at pictures and extract some meaning without formal training and without necessarily knowing the visual codes. Ignorant, naïve, or mis-reading, perhaps, but reading none the less. Against this backdrop of ambiguity, reading in the old-fashioned sense seems refreshingly straightforward, a product of training and social filtering that is by definition exclusive. Just to get to the stage of simple or misreading the written word, one has already travelled a ways down a circumscribed educational path, one that entails holding the physical object—the book—in one’s hands, primarily indoors. How, then, might we equate visibility and legibility in a way that delimits the lens of reading images, lest the “visual dominant,” in Marcus Levitt’s apt phrase,18 lose all interpretive specificity.

19As a document-bound historian and a latecomer to pictorial Russia, I have pondered such issues over the past few years while learning on the fly. Since the main thrust of the chapter, as well as the focus of the volume overall, is the reading of written texts, I will limit myself to just one or two thoughts. We have a long journey ahead of us in comprehending how to integrate this type of decoding into the older modes of historical explanation that we continue to employ. For me, the most satisfying approach has involved a blend of pictorial semiotics (decoding the layers of intended meanings as art historians have been pursuing for generations) on one hand, and thick description (a la Clifford Geertz) and deep contextualization, on the other: reconstructing as closely as we can the specific spatial, chronological, social, and even individual setting in which audiences were presented with specific imagery. This fusion of sign and reception entails adopting the models of reader-response, opening up a second point of entry (audience) separate from textual creation and intent.

  • 19   This has been a continuing thread in several of his most influential essays, extending from the 1 (...)
  • 20   An early articulation of skepticism is Lawrence Duggan, “Was Art Really the ‘Book of the Illitera (...)

20Roger Chartier posed this question a number of years ago in his critique of the idea of separate high and low cultures.19 He wondered, for example, about what and how congregants, whether rich or humble, saw as they passed through the spaces of Cathedrals. Irrespective of high artistic mastery and the staggering financial resources that brought these magnificent Cathedrals into being, where in our matrix did high culture end and low culture begin if representatives of all estates in French society were looking at the same scenes? Among medievalists, this question centers on Scriptural knowledge, whether imagery constituted a broadly accessible alternative for those who could not decode the written word. This has been a popular argument until recently, but some scholars now caution against the assumption that iconography and church frescoes seamlessly substituted for verbal text, as the “Bible of the Simple.” The images, they remind us, were high up, poorly lit, and all but impossible to see in the exquisite detail with which they were composed. Do we truly imagine, they ask, that congregants in general saw them in the prescribed way? Even if they did, do we have any evidence to tell us what they saw, or what they thought they saw? The magnificent stained glass windows may have constituted a familiar presence, but universal visibility is by no means a given.20 Visual reception, in short, is a muddle, a further demonstration of the opacity of the cultural space that both joins and separates prescription and reception.

  • 21   Levitt alludes to this possibility in his discussion of the work of Pavel Florenskii and more rec (...)

21Paradoxically, one might plausibly imagine that matters were different in Russian Orthodoxy, and that visual reading was relatively more accessible than in Catholic Europe. Internal architecture was different, congregants stood and often moved around during services, iconostases and wall paintings (rospisi) were affixed closer to the congregants’ eyes and thereby perhaps more available to engaged reception than the stained glass and frescoes of Gothic Cathedrals. If so, did they read collectively them as a congregation, through the eyes of the churchmen, or in individual reflection? All seem vaguely plausible, and they set one’s imagination spinning.21 But, absent any evidence of reception or individual reflection, for now this remains in the realm of speculation. Thus, for the rest of this chapter let us stick to the more traditional definitions of reading, the world of words.

3. Literacy, learning to read, schooling

22This section begins with truisms. First, the sine qua non for reading words is learning one’s ABCs, the azbuka in Russian. Regardless of where, how, or why one read, if the ultimate object was in some manner to decode a written text one had to achieve some level, or type, of literacy. And gaining that very literacy ipso facto constituted an acting of learning, almost certainly overseen by an instructor. In other words, the gateway to reading (passive literacy) necessarily ran through education, specifically some variant of a structured student-teacher interaction. The actual pedagogy and locus of that education may have been variable, but the fact of it was not.

23In its current state, the analysis both of the ability of eighteenth-century Russians to read literacy and of the education that made it possible has a good deal of room for growth. First, we have far less to go on for Russia than do historians of literacy for much of the rest of Christendom. If relatively more abundant than previously thought, as shown by what Simon Franklin mapped several years ago for the early medieval period, the source base is still rather sparse. Prior to the latter decades of the eighteenth century, Russia lacked a full complement of parish registries (metricheskie knigi) that scholars elsewhere have employed to calculate percentages of signatures. Instead we have several surveys done by administrative bodies, as well as some muster rolls, from which one can extrapolate and at times disaggregate percentages of signers. Some censuses, such as the town lists (magistratskie listy) and confessional rolls (ispovednye spiski) required householders or those making confession to sign or to make a mark in lieu of signing. But these are sporadic before the end of the eighteenth century. It is entirely possible that the archives contain far more such lists than have to date come to light, in which case we can still hope for some well-grounded future generalizations.

  • 22   See, for example, A. Golubinskii, “Literacy in Russian Peasant Society at the End of the Eighteen (...)
  • 23   For the earlier period Simon Franklin has conducted the most searching analysis of literacy. See (...)

24A small cohort of younger scholars have begun the laborious work of examining specific lists of signatures produced during the eighteenth century by cohorts outside the elites.22 Their research is in very early stages, and provincial records are still mostly unexplored. We are far from crafting any general or richly empirical profile, and, as a consequence, we are beholden to the available older surveys and analyses for possible generalizations. This paper is not the place for an exhaustive and technical review of the sources and scholarship on early modern Russian literacy.23 But some general observations do seem worth making. Although the numbers could fluctuate widely from one survey to the next, and from one locale to the next, overall the preponderance of evidence, both old and new, leans heavily in the direction of the ‘pessimistic view,’ i.e., that Muscovy and the Empire were characterized by strikingly low levels of general literacy (however defined), especially outside specific elites, until quite late. Among those within the lower estates who did acquire some modest degree of literacy, a narrowly utilitarian notion of reading and writing was the norm.

  • 24   The longitudinal evidence on literacy outside the upper clergy and upper serving men is perplexin (...)
  • 25Trudy istoriko-arkheograficheskogo instituta. Vol. XI Krepostnaia manufaktura v Rossii, Pt, IV, S (...)
  • 26   The classic work for late medieval England western remains M. Clanchy, From Memory to Written Rec (...)
  • 27   The leading Soviet and post-Soviet anthropologists and knigovedy, such as M. M. Gromyko and I. V. (...)

25The picture requires a good bit of texture, of course, both in mapping social or geographic differentiation and in comprehending the relationship between individual literacy outside the upper nobility and the communicative nature of reading in public. From a social perspective a high proportion of eighteenth-century clergy seem to have achieved a functional level of literacy, especially once seminary training became compulsory in 1737. Staff in the chanceries and collegia consisted mostly of scribes all of whom needed some degree (although just how much remains unclear) of reading and writing simply to do their work. The bureaucracy ran on paper, and for the eras in question they required small armies of scribes to transcribe and recopy the records on which governing relied. Consequently chancery officials and their offspring tended to have a comparatively higher rate of literacy. So too did a significant proportion of the merchantry, especially those plying their wares at the Empire’s periphery. In some—but by no means most—surveys soldiers24, bailiffs, townsfolk (meshchan’e), coachmen and hereditary workers25 also appear to have been comparatively more likely to learn to sign their names. The forward march of written records meant that literacy was fast becoming an essential attribute of the Russian peasant community, much like it had become in the rest of Europe,26 even if very few individual peasants could read or write. Every locale, it seems, could turn to at least a handful of people who could sign and read basic texts. Some peasants did more. The evidence of the latter comes from the well-documented peasant inscriptions on books (especially in the north), and, by the latter part of the eighteenth century,27 a few peasant autobiographical fragments. And, of course, there is the nonpareil Mikhail Lomonosov, born into a state peasant family of White Sea fishermen only to become the great and learned polymath fully fluent in Latin and German, as well as Russian. So anything was possible at every rung of the social ladder. But even with all of that, the existing surveys generally convey a very low level of reading and signing.

26The wider cultural implications of this low level of literacy also demand further exploration. Within nearly all of pre-modern Christendom (certainly before the sixteenth century) the majority of the population were unable to read or write, illiterate in all senses of the term. And yet once written texts were introduced into those very cultures they became realms in which reading of one sort or another evolved into a familiar practice for nearly everyone. Sites of reading were ubiquitous, and nearly everyone, irrespective of location, age, gender, or social station, bore witness (i.e., they were physically present) to acts of reading.

27For many communities in which individual illiteracy was almost universal reading was present in some form or another and incorporated into the cyclical rhythm of life. That is, literacy existed as an asset of the community but not necessarily of its individual members. Word-based objects were familiar, if not quite quotidian, presences. People regularly read words aloud, whether liturgical, legal, or seigneurial, to others; those who heard them read, or who witnessed others reading (or alternatively bore witness to the appearance or performance of reading wherein someone bearing a physical text spoke passages that had been committed to memory), were themselves participating in a culture of reading. Thus, individual illiteracy and public reading coexisted in a single field as cultural norms for several centuries.

  • 28   An entire conference held in Moscow in January 2017 was devoted to the topic, the vast majority o (...)

28This symbiosis of text and orality, public reading and general illiteracy, was an evident feature of Russia’s parishes and landed estates, an essential presence at the intersections of authority and quotidian existence. When viewed in that light, it elevates the place and importance of education in a popular setting to a status that resonated socially well beyond those relatively few who learned how to read and write. The history of Russian education, a topic long deemed rather dry, specialized, and self-contained, is beginning to reemerge from its hermetic isolation, and to a large extent with a social or socio-culture agenda. Multiple projects are afoot to study education on-the-ground and in-the-classroom during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The fields of inquiry currently include seminaries, public schools, private pansions, home schooling, academies, and gymnasia.28

  • 29   Educational reform and projects for reform continue to draw interest of course. See, for example, (...)

29This in situ approach gives less weight than have previous generations of scholars to the intellectual dimensions of abstract projects, a la Ivan Betskoi for example, and Empire-wide systems of reform, and more attention to specific classes, flesh-and-blood students, and texts that were actually used.29 Eventually a fuller picture will emerge of the relatively elite and privileged sites of learning, both institutional and with so-called private governors, and of the skills and reading practices and preferences that they engendered. In this volume we see evidence of this type of exploration, for example in the contributions by Roman Leibov and Aleksei Vdovin that address—actual—reading in—real, existing—schools for the mid- and late nineteenth century. So too do the chapters on twentieth-century schools and reading.

  • 30   Kosheleva has been pursuing this line of reasoning as far back as 1994, in an essay entitled “Ped (...)

30Extra-institutional education-cum-reading is another area of newly invigorated research, and this has particular significance for the entire pre-Reform era, dating back into the seventeenth century. Here one need make specific mention of the work of Olga Kosheleva. Kosheleva has reminded us repeatedly that, for all practical purposes, there were virtually no formal schools in Muscovy until very late in the seventeenth century, and that learning was conducted in more intimate or informal settings between tutors and learners, `apprenticeship’ (uchenichestvo) as she terms it. The idea of the classroom certainly existed, witness Vasilii Burtsev’s famous engravings of classrooms in his primers of the 1630s. But, with the rarest of exceptions, the classrooms themselves did not. Across numerous essays written during the past two decades she has argued that this constituted a “Russian Orthodox paradigm of education,” distinct from Byzantine and Latin models, and she is preparing a full-length explication of this thesis.30 Kosheleva’s insights have considerable resonance for later eras, since, as far as one can surmise, most elementary reading instruction continued to take place outside of the physical space of classrooms, probably into the nineteenth century, and continued to employ traditional scripturally-centered Slavonic texts, primer, breviary, Psalter (azbuka or bukvar,’ chasoslov, psaltyr’) and rote-based pedagogies.

  • 31   Originally published in French in 1977, the English translation appeared in 1982. F. Furet, J. Oz (...)

31Can we hope eventually to construct a detailed map of this paradigm and its effects, geographically and socially, or to arrive at broader textured profiles of the reading abilities and practices that emerged from it? Only time and more research will tell, but there are some templates developed elsewhere that are worth keeping in mind. In their book Reading and Writing. Literacy in France from Calvin to Jules Ferry, for example, Francois Furet and Jacques Ozouf made a compelling case for a rather wide spectrum of semi-literacy in early modern France, i.e., something more than mechanical word recognition but far less than the ability to read unfamiliar texts. Furet and Ozouf fell back on the accepted formula positing that more people could read than could sign; and more could sign than could write. From this they extrapolated an approximation of likely or potential readers, disaggregated into all the appropriate groupings. The thrust of their work implied that `literacy’ in early modern France subsumed a spectrum of reading skills and practices, especially among the rural lower classes, and that this spectrum complicated the accepted social profile of literacy in particular among those being taught in village schools, at home, or in the church.31 But the meaning, frequency, and nature of that reading (the murky realm of semi-literacy) remained opaque.

32Kosheleva’s notion of the preeminence of apprenticeship in the absence of formal classrooms seems consonant with some of what Furet and Ozouf (and others) have said about fathoms of semi-literacy. But where Furet and Ozouf engaged the subject quantitatively, Kosheleva has deployed a very different mode of research, a blend of archival discovery and close textual exegesis that is decidedly non-arithmetic. Without much better records of local schooling a level of synthesis for Russia on the magnitude of what Furet and Ozouf produced for France is probably impossible. Moreover, a specific a priori relationship between signatures on documents and reading of any sort can never be assumed (recall that Menshikov was taught how to sign his name) or automatically transposed from one context to another. At this point this bedeviling question has scarcely been addressed for eighteenth-century Russia. Nevertheless, her work opens up potential avenues for investigating a specifically Orthodox habitus of semi-literacy, both individual and collective. Through them we may get a clearer or at least more pluralized understanding of popular reading practices in the early modern centuries.

4. Diverse practices of reading and writing

  • 32   Franklin develops this point extensively in his soon-to-appear book, The Russian Graphosphere 145 (...)

33Once more interpretive boundaries are in flux, in ways that sometimes resituate the interplay of prescription and reception. We accept that reading written texts itself constitutes a very broad spectrum of practices and media, from looking at signs and notices to public orations to silent reading in solitude, and that sites or spaces of reading were many and varied. Words, as Simon Franklin reminds us in his essay in this volume, appear on an array of surfaces, and our understanding of what it meant, or might have meant, to read would do well to include any physical spaces where writing appears.32 Our map of Russian reading and readers has moved beyond the major centers of book culture to embrace distant and isolated locales, where, from time to time, we find clusters of readers who have assembled a surprising repertoire of texts. We delight in uncovering audiences and creative bookmen, especially those who left behind commentary and detailed marginalia, in remote and unexpected places. What, though, does it add up to?

  • 33   D. Uo (Daniel Waugh), Istoriia odnoi knigi: Viatka i `ne-sovremennost’’ v russkoi kul’tury petrov (...)

34Over the years I have belatedly come to appreciate the enduring relevance and vitality of hand copying well after the flourishing of movable type in Russia. Although not linked to a market-based system until rather late vis-à-vis Catholic and especially Protestant Europe, this dynamic began and ended with the curiosities and demands of actual readers. Beyond their separate functionalities, movable type and hand copying coexisted sometimes quite porously, complemented each other, overlapped, and occasionally morphed into hybridized combinations of part print/part manuscript Newly discovered examples of individuals hand-copying printed texts continue to multiply, as do examples of readers interweaving pages of printed text into their manuscripts. One thinks here once again of the Viatka town chronicler, Semen Popov, who interspersed laws and decrees, snippets of the official quasi-newspaper Newsnotes (Vedomosti), and other imprints into his otherwise hand-written Anatolian Miscellany (Anatol’evskii sbornik), a chronicle of Viatka’s history.33 Much like the miscellanies of learned monastics, Popov’s creative weaving of texts blended reading and writing, print and manuscript, so thoroughly as to make it virtually impossible to disentangle one from the other.

35 All of this hand copying speaks to the presence of some very active and engaged readers, a blurring of lines between reading and writing, and reading as a form of cultural production. It raises a myriad of new analytical questions, especially if one wishes to speak about changes over time, or about `Russia’ as something culturally syncretic. What is new or remarkable about its unmistakable presence in later centuries? Weren’t there always at least a few scattered remote outposts of East Slavic bookishness, coterminous with the northeastern migration of Rus’ Orthodoxy? Just how extensively was each of these cross-medium adventures practiced, and for how long? Did widespread hand copying persist because printed books remained hard to get and expensive? Was it cheaper or easier to recopy books by hand onto paper (itself a pricey commodity) than to purchase them from distant typographies? Did some eighteenth-century readers inscribe different meaning onto hand-written volumes than onto printed ones? Was this primarily a provincial or clerical phenomenon?

36Lots of questions and possibilities for fruitful research. A digital-Humanities mapping of this phenomenon might reveal a great deal about early modern literate Russian culture and the place of reading within it. That would be an enormous undertaking likely occupying a small detachment of scholars. But well worth it were it occur.

5. The language(s) of reading: Russian vs. polyglossia

37It is safe to assume that, for the vast majority of eighteenth-century Russians (i.e., those for whom Russian was the spoken language), if they read at all they did so in Russian or, in church, Slavonic. The millions of Imperial subjects who were not primarily Russian speaking, of course, had a different repertoire of written languages. Thus, the question posed here about di- or poly-glossia is explicitly one focusing on Russian elite culture, in this case an elite defined primarily by access to secondary education, and hence including clergy. In each instance the language(s) of reading opens up almost immediately to broader and particularly acute discussions about the structure of culture and society.

38French. For the eighteenth century, determining the preferred language in which well-educated or polyglot cohorts read has gained renewed attention. Over the past three decades much work has been done on Russians reading French, largely through the labors of Vladimir Somov in St. Petersburg, Vladislav Rjéoutski and their collaborators.34 One project has begun to map the locations of individual copies of works by women writers in several languages, including Russian thanks to Hilde Hoogenboom. Once completed, it promises to allow us to reconstruct the relative frequency with which, say, translated French novels circulated in Russia as opposed to those in the original.35

  • 36   Menshikov’s daughters, Mariia and Aleksandra, are the subjects of some ongoing research. Both of (...)
  • 37   Iu. N. Bespiatykh and A. I. Rakhman, “Gramotnyi A, D. Menshikov,” Menshikovskie chteniia, 1 (2003 (...)

39So far these projects have uncovered no new sensations, but they have yielded some curiosities. For one, several of Peter the Great’s closest aides, most notably the street-vendor-turned-Radiant Prince Aleksandr Menshikov, insisted that their children learn to read French at an early age, and they provided French tutors to make sure that they did.36 Menshikov’s pursuit of familial gentility for his daughters is interesting on multiple counts. By nearly all accounts he was illiterate, although one recent article has questioned that assessment.37 This behavior suggests that at least some of the rough-and-tumble Petrine acolytes (or `fledglings’ [ptentsy] as they are often called in Russian) already were thinking about foreign language reading as a measure of culture and gentility virtually from the moment they moved to St. Petersburg, if not before (the more urbane and well-travelled courtiers such as Petr Tolstoi and Boris Kurakin did not need to be told).

  • 38   M. Lamarche Marrese, “‘The Poetics of Everyday Behavior’ Revisited: Lotman, Gender, and the Evolu (...)

40In a broader vein, the thrust of this research has shown rather clearly that the language used was generally a matter of forethought, a discovery that substantially complicates our understanding of why and when Catherinian-era nobles read or wrote in French and when they resorted to Russian, which in most cases they still considered their native tongue. As we read in Kislova’s chapter, seminarians and even seminary administrators also participated in this openness to French. All of this work effectively undermines the enduring image of a slavish, exclusively noble Russian Francophilic Voltairianism (currently undergoing serious revision from several quarters) and to support the late Michelle Marrese’s critique of the idea that Russian Europeans had become veritable foreigners in their own land.38

  • 39   M. Schippan, Die Aufklärung in Russland im 18. Jahrhundert (Wiesbaden, 2012) Wolfenbütteler Forsc (...)
  • 40   E. Winter, Die deutsch-russische Begegnung und Leonhard Euler. Beiträge zu den beziehungen zwisch (...)
  • 41   An exception to this is a recent essay by Ekaterina Kislova, “Deutsch als Sprache der Aufklärung (...)

41German. This earlier-than-expected flickering of elite Francophonie would seem to challenge the prevailing view that German was the second language of choice in the first half of the century. Recent studies, however, such as Michael Schippan’s history of the Russian Enlightenment and N. I. Khoteev’s study of German books in early eighteenth-century Russia,39 suggest otherwise. Instead, they offer a spirited defense of the view expressed long ago by Eduard Winter, Helmut Grasshof, and Boris Krasnobaev that the Russian Enlightenment was as German-inflected as it was French.40 In this rendering, German thought circulated widely among Russian literati and readers, both in the original and in translation. To date, however, no one has undertaken the painstaking mapping of German texts that both Hoogenboom and Rjéoutski et al. have been conducting for French.41 Thus, while the ongoing presence of German-language reading within the Russian Enlightenment is unmistakable and clearly important, its contours and dimensions need further investigation.

  • 42   See the unpublished paper from that conference by A. Kostin, “Latinskaia obrazovannost’ kak priem (...)

42Latin. One topic that is now undergoing some long overdue scrutiny is the teaching and reading of Latin in the eighteenth century. A 2015 conference at the German Historical Institute Moscow was dedicated entirely to the place of Latin in early-modern Russian letters: “The Neo-Latin Humanist Tradition and Russian Literature of the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries” (“Neolatinskaia gumanisticheskaia traditsiia i russkaia literatura kontsa XVII-nachala XIX vekov”). Themes ranged widely, but their central premise was that Latin played a not inconsiderable role in the life of letters, lay and clerical, and that Latin schooling constituted a recurring literary trope. The written record makes it clear that several literati knew Latin well, read it extensively, and even wrote Latin poetry.42

  • 43   G. L. Freeze, The Russian Levites: Parish Clergy in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge, MA, 1977), (...)
  • 44   To date Kislova has produced the most extensive body of research on the teaching and deployment o (...)

43From a broader social perspective, though, the central locus for this research is and needs to be the rapidly expanding network of Orthodox seminaries, whose curricula and lectures were in Latin, and whose public disputations among advanced students typically took place in Latin. How well did seminarians actually learn the language, and did they continue to read it later on, whether working as clergy or as state servitors? If so, to what extent, and toward what purpose? These questions still linger within in the scholarship. My own—admittedly incomplete—study of seminaries a number of years ago inclined me toward the skeptical view expressed by Gregory Freeze and others that seminarians typically took a decidedly inattentive approach to Latin which they saw as being of little use in their future roles as parish priests.43 The pattern I observed, based primarily on reading published histories of seminaries, was one in which most seminarians retook the same courses year after year while waiting for a position to come available in their home parish. But this impression may perhaps turn out to have been too harsh. Several scholars, including—once again—Ekaterina Kislova, Denis Kondakov, and Liudmila Posokhova are pursuing these questions at the micro level, looking at specific seminaries or regions in pursuit of a concrete profile of quotidian Latin.44 Kislova’s chapter synthesizes this scholarship into a broader discussion of seminary reading, and brings the ongoing research to the readers of this volume. Preliminary results suggest at least some traces of seminary-based Latin reading and writing beyond the obligatory curriculum.

6. Reading and self-inscription: reading communities and publics

44The remainder of this paper addresses readers as cohorts—who they were, where they were, how they constituted themselves, etc.—against the backdrop of the question raised earlier of how to situate the eighteenth century. I focus on a circumscribed but important subset of the topic, what one might term the body of self-conscious or self-fashioned readers, i.e., those who, by their actions, embraced the ascription of `reader,’ both individual and collective. These groups consisted of those who read (or wished to be seen as having read) in the old-fashioned sense of reading for content and reflection. Can we speak of the contours of this group with any coherence, social, geographic, spatial, professional? Did their composition change over the century and, equally important, did their own sense of the collective reading body evolve in ways that alter how we have tended to think of them? In the end, is our current periodization of reading in need of revision? As with literacy, it is premature to imagine closure to this set of conversations any time soon. My own views fall into the thoroughly indecisive ‘on one hand…on the other hand’ camp.

6.1. Reading Communities

45Reading communities may be defined very simply as discrete groups that shared a common physical space or some other specific bond of familiarity in which reading loomed large, and that tended to read the same works and share them among themselves. Such communities existed in Russian history from Kyivan times onward, embodied typically by monastic brethren who read the earliest liturgical texts and who composed the early chronicles. We cannot say with any specificity how commonplace volitional reading was in subsequent centuries (although it clearly took place), whether it was rigidly cloistered or opened to the surrounding laity (both patterns have been documented, but their respective frequencies remain undetermined). But it surely existed, and some monasteries ultimately assembled impressive libraries, at times far removed from centers of political authority or the metropolitan seat.

  • 45   R. Romanchuk, Byzantine Hermeneutics and Pedagogy in the Russian North: Monks and Masters at the (...)
  • 46   For examples of these alternative readings see the reviews by Donald Ostrowski in Slavic Review, (...)

46Robert Romanchuk’s study of the Kirillo-Belozerskii Monastery in the fifteenth century demonstrates just how extensive these collections could be in distant places, and, with the right abbot, just how aware the monks could be of Humanist intellectual currents in Byzantium and beyond. They not only received works from abroad, but they amended and revised them for specific purposes, incontrovertible evidence of active and engaged reading within the monastery. Romanchuk sees Kirillov as a powerful counter example—albeit just one, as he is judiciously reluctant to generalize—to what he has termed ‘Old Russian obscurantism.’ In his rendering, it constituted a reading community of intense intellectual curiosity, what he terms an ‘ethology of reading.’45 Judging from the reviews, most of his fellow medievalists have embraced his conclusions. Some, however, have questioned whether Kirillov was anything more than a quirk, a short-lived, one-off exception that somehow managed to acquire and engage a handful of Humanist texts.46 Certainly by the mid-sixteenth century Greek and Latin texts were appearing in monastic libraries with greater frequency, although once again it would be premature to describe this as commonplace. For our purposes, however, its intellectual currency or originality is less important than the sheer fact of its existence in a distant locale as a vibrant monastic reading brotherhood.

  • 47   M. V. Kukushkina, Monastyrskie biblioteki russkogo severa. Ocherki po istorii knizhnoi kul’tury X (...)
  • 48   I. M. Gritsevskaia, Chtenie i chet’i sborniki v drevnerusskikh monastyriakh XV-XVII vv. (St. Pete (...)

47Monastic reading communities constituted something of a social norm, I would suggest, the most well developed institutional context for reading, both communal and silent, until very late in the seventeenth century. Evidence for this pattern comes from multiple sources, such as the monastic libraries of the north that M. V. Kukushkina and others have inventoried, on the assumption that library building over several decades represented an expression of intellectual curiosity on the part of the monks themselves.47 I. M. Gritsevskaia’s study of monastic reading and reading miscellanies (chet’i sborniki) gives a vivid picture of such monastic communities for the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.48 Gritsevskaia builds her case around readers’ annotations and what she terms “the regulated repertoire of reading” from the instructions generated by the monastery itself. Methodologically, her approach moves beyond assembling library inventories and provides a detailed profile of monastic reading practices. Thus she is able to describe individual and institutional reading practices in considerable depth. Without referencing de Certeau or his dicta, her work nevertheless constitutes a splendid example of a history of reading that accounts for both the force of disciplining and the re-creative potential of readers themselves.

48This implicit diffusion returns us to the question of whether there was a particular geographic shape or profile to monastic reading communities. Did every Muscovite monastery constitute a reading community (in principle, certainly, but in practice unclear), and, if so, were some of them more reading than others? What do we make of the fact that an inordinate proportion of the evidence for monastic libraries and reading, including most micro-studies, comes from the North. Did people in Vologda actually read more (they certainly seem to have based upon the proliferation of scholarship on Vologda book collections), or is this an illusion, a function perhaps of record keeping?

49Granted, transcription was commonplace, and scholars invariably perk up when non-liturgical manuscripts appeared in specific repositories, and even more so when they migrated from one repository to another (hinting, perhaps, at wide circulation). When a given hand-copied text shows up in more than a few repositories, and in more than one locale, does that constitute evidence of widespread familiarity and reading, as some scholars have maintained? Alternatively, does it provide a sufficient footprint to allow us to identify networks of readers? Without presuming expertise in the extensive literature on Muscovite manuscripts (for that level of expertise consult the previous chapter by Daniel Waugh), it nevertheless seems to me that, with relatively few exceptions we have only episodic evidence for most of the Muscovite era of how a given manuscript found its way to a specific monastery.

50By contrast, archival records make the circulation of printed texts from central typographies relatively easy to reconstruct from the seventeenth century forward. Who apprised the monks in one monastery of a text’s existence in another? And by what means? We often see the name(s) of the transcriber, but who arranged for the copying, and how? How did the texts to be transcribed physically get from one place to another? In some exceptional instances there are surviving letters or inscriptions that tell us, and these bear evidentiary witness to pathways of communication from one cloistered locale to another.

51Clearly, long-standing established networks connected cloistered communities or at least connected individual monks or abbots from one community to the next. It would be illuminating to reconstruct more fully how these networks operated. Unfortunately the records for doing so seem sparse. Still, I would argue that discrete communities, and the networks that linked them, constituted the closest thing to a self-conscious collective readership to exist in Muscovy, at least until the dawn of the Muscovite Baroque.

6.2. A monastic republic of letters

52With the influx of learned monastics from the Ruthenian lands during the second half of the seventeenth and first quarter of the eighteenth century, one sees the emergence of a still more self-conscious, and even self-fashioned network of readers bound together by a common education, by their sense of cultural difference, and by their dedication to writing letters to one another. These affective bonds coexisted with the fierce, no-holds-barred doctrinal disputes and personal rivalries that marked their transposition from Kyiv, Chernihiv, or Minsk. Over time the brethren of this self-conscious community began to include a handful of Muscovites, (Fedor Polikarpov, Karion Istomin and a few others with ties to the Lichuodas brothers, Chudov Monastery, or Moscow’s printing house [pechatnyi dvor]) from among those who had undergone a Jesuit-based training in Novgorod or Moscow not dissimilar from their own.

53The expressions of a common cultural identity reflected their acute awareness of being Ruthenians in Muscovy (among themselves—but only among themselves—they occasionally described themselves as inostrantsy). Compared to the relative intimacies of Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Baturin, Muscovy’s vastness and the remoteness of some dioceses to which they were assigned proved challenging to ongoing written communication, and they employed written correspondence, both personal and intellectual, to maintain close ties. But the bond extended beyond that in its embrace of a shared and—in Muscovy—highly exceptional neo-Scholastic erudition. It was on this basis that Istomin et al. were invited in.

54The titanic doctrinal polemics and vicious denunciations that often divided them into warring camps (and occasionally into prison) in their public roles were on the whole more muted in their letters. Instead, they made arrangements via their correspondence to visit one another, to inquire about friends in common, to inquire into the state of affairs in remote parts, to discuss what they had read and to seek out each other’s opinions. They reminded one another of previous letters and conversations, and asked for advice on how or whether to raise potentially controversial topics in public (time and beards are prominent issues). Decades before it became commonplace among lay elites, their letters used the language of brother and friendship freely, and on occasion much less polite appellations. Indeed, they went out of their way to do so, and thereby draw a circle around those who belonged. “Please send my best wishes to my dear friend…” was a common sentiment, one extended to Istomin and Polikarpov. They also conveyed among themselves an unself-conscious nostalgia for Kyiv and for earlier times, and not just Stefan Iavorskii, whose lifelong attachment to Kyiv is well known. Even Prokopovich was known to write wistfully to former colleagues in Kyiv about “when the times were better.” The man had a soft side after all.

55Epistolary friendship, personal frankness, and intellectual intercourse had characterized earlier generations of Kyivan hierarchs (Lazar Baranovych, Ioanniki Hal’yatovs’ki, etc.) still communicating within the relatively intimate confines of the Hetmante, and its frequency only grew as Peter proceeded to populate his church with dozens of Ukrainian monastics. More importantly, it took on an enlarged symbolic meaning when transposed onto Muscovite/Imperial soil. Members of this fraternity would frequently include a sentence or passage (sometimes several) in a foreign language, usually French, Latin, or Polish, although the latter, their literary language of choice in the seventeenth century, fell into relative disuse over time. Often it would be a quotation (without citation, since the reader was presumed to know it), but occasionally the letter-writer would simply switch languages for a few phrases or sentences. This nominally frivolous gesture had genuine cultural capital, I would argue, in its re-articulation of a shared learning, as if to say, we are among those privileged learned souls who can read and write these words now sailing in a vast sea where few others can do so. Once again, this was less about ethnicity per se or even station and more about cultural difference and the intensity of their Jesuit educations.

  • 49   A recent collection of documents relating to Ivan Neronov provide a sample of this particular epi (...)

56One could argue that there is nothing new here. Communities of like-minded readers from time immemorial used semiotic markers to assert among themselves what they held in common, whether they be Scriptural quotations, Patristics, or the enduring words of a leader of their movement or sect (here one might include the anxious letters of the earliest Old Believers that, in what were otherwise very business-like communications, referenced the same Scriptural and Patristic texts repeatedly as a mode of spiritual solidarity.)49 Still I would say that this coterie of hierarchs did constitute something noteworthy in the history of East Slavic Orthodox readers, a self-consciously trans-local body constituted as the sum of their learnedness and curiosities, and vigorously maintained via their correspondence.

  • 50   On science as a republic of letters, see A. Grafton Worlds Made by Words (Cambridge, MA, 2009); D (...)

57This description is reminiscent of the respublica literaria of early modern European science (in whose works, by the way, these clergy had a considerable interest and to which they referred often in their letters). Far-flung correspondence, mostly in German and Latin, about latest research and theorems kept them abreast of each other’s work and careers. But these letters were full of gossip, family news, bits of politics, opportunities for work framed in phraseology that they knew and accepted as their own.50 Reading each other’s work, drafts, and correspondence was the glue that held them together, and in this sense I think the Ukrainian monastics were different.

6.3. The making of a reading public

  • 51   M. Kiseleva, Intellektual’nyi vybor Rossii vtoroi polovinoi XVII-nachala XVIII veka. Ot drevnerus (...)

58Important as this clerical respublica is to our story and to East Slavic Orthodoxy at the time, its epistolary practices were not intended as public performances. Outsiders were not invited; no one was asked to bear witness to what was being written. Hence while the participants were dynamic and influential figures, and while their self-fashioning may have established a prototype for future literati (what Marina Kiseleva has termed “the choice to be an intellectual”51) their epistolary activity did not constitute a bridge to reading as public-ness. Other practices, however, some of them long standing, might well have had a public face, and these I would subsume under the generic omnibus category of ‘self-inscription.’

  • 52   In this context `buyers’ refers specifically to the person to whom an individual copy went. Some (...)

59What did it mean to affix one’s name to a book, to join a list of subscribers, or to scrawl graffiti on a church wall? When individuals assembled private libraries why did some of them choose to compose inventories when most of their fellow bibliophiles did not? Daniel Waugh’s chapter walks us through the question of inscriptions and their practical meanings for earlier centuries. Some of these actions had a utilitarian dimension: owners’ inscriptions kept track of where and to whom a book belonged; inventories allowed one to maintain a record of ownership; subscribing by definition placed one’s name to a list. Still, most literate people did not write graffiti on cathedral walls, most book buyers52 did not write their names in books or compose inventories, and prior to the 1750s there was almost nothing to which to subscribe. In each circumstance there is an element of individual agency of which we need try to take account.

  • 53   There is a very large literature, almost entirely composed of brief and highly focused articles, (...)
  • 54   Here I am referring explicitly to inscriptions (chitatel’skie/ vladel’cheskie zapisi) rather than (...)
  • 55   Among the most informative of these studies are the many articles by A. I. Kopanev, e.g., “Iz ist (...)
  • 56   Here I am alluding to two strands of late Soviet, and even post-Soviet historiography, one sociol (...)

60Willful or not, each of these acts constituted a form of self-inscription that others could witness, an immortalization of one’s place in the great chain of books.53 I see them as conscious, and in some sense public.54 Owners passed their books to others, some of whom affixed their names and other identifying information just below those of previous owners, thereby creating a chain of material heritage linking generations of inscribers with a particular copy of a book. Presumably they anticipated that someone at some point would see the inscriptions, even if that someone was merely the next owner. One might also wonder whether ownership inscriptions by non-elites, especially among peasants and townsfolk, carried still greater meaning beyond the fact of ownership, precisely because of their exceptionalism as household artifacts.55 After all, even the most intrepid bygone advocates of a hidden ‘authentic’ peasant readership conceded that few peasant households contained books.56

  • 57   Some examples of informative studies of personal libraries are O. E. Glagoleva, “Chastnye knizhny (...)
  • 58   For a different approach to libraries and their owners see M. J. Okenfuss, The Rise and Fall of L (...)
  • 59   The figure of 13,000 comes from a 1783 article in Livlandische Jahrbucher (Riga) by an obscure Ba (...)

61Interpolated meanings have relevance as well to inventories of personal libraries, albeit with certain caveats. In my view, the contents of large private collections are best understood not as reflections of reading per se but as texts in themselves, important to be sure, reckoned separately from the books within.57 When commissioned by the owner, they constituted a type of public or semi-public performances, or self-fashioning. The owner may have read the books, but we cannot know that from the existence of an inventory. One ought not assume, therefore, that there is an a priori symmetry between the profile of a library, whether private or institutional, and the mental world, reading, or range of curiosity of the individual book collector.58 Perhaps the starkest example of this distinction was Aleksandr Menshikov yet again, who, in addition to hiring French tutors for his children, compiled an excellent private library (sometimes alleged on rather slender evidence to have held over 13,000 volumes including 3,000 rare books purchased from abroad!) and arranged for an inventory. He no doubt wanted his name and that of his family associated with the fact of the library’s existence even though he most assuredly never read any of it. His children may have, but the ex libris was his.59 For researchers, then, inventories should constitute simply the beginning of this type of exploration, and not the documentary mother lode. Beyond utility, when eighteenth-century personal library owners commissioned inventories they were proclaiming, if only to themselves, membership in a book-centered community of cultured elites. In this way inventories constituted acts of self-fashioning by projecting the persona as reader irrespective of the concrete act of reading. They may also have wished to associate themselves with the types of books they collected. This, of course, is noteworthy for our story as it alerts us to the appearance of something new: the valorization of `the lay reader’ within elements of Petrine court culture. But that doesn’t mean these `readers’ necessarily read.

  • 60   N. I. Khoteev, Chitateli biblioteki Akademii nauk po dannym za 1724-1728 i 1731-1736 (St. Petersb (...)

62By contrast, sources on book borrowers from institutional libraries, scant though they are, bring us closer to actual reading, based upon the presumption that one borrowed books in order to read them. In the nineteenth century, with the growing popularity of private lending libraries (biblioteki dlia chteniia), such materials can provide an interesting window into reading preferences and the demographic profile of borrowers. Eighteenth-century sources are fewer, however, and these tend to be confined to institutional libraries. Thus, Khoteev’s analysis of book borrowers during the early years of the library of the Academy of Sciences (1720s and 1730s) reveals a lot of borrowing, nearly all of which was done by people associated with the Academy—mostly foreign scholars—and a few courtiers. Not surprising, but still valuable in its documentary confirmation.60

6.4. Subscribers and subscription lists

  • 61   So far as I am aware the first English-language expression of scholarly enthusiasm for the potent (...)

63As part of the frisson generated by histoire du livre during the latter decades of the twentieth century a massive ‘book subscription list project’ took shape, headquartered in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, focusing largely on Great Britain and the broader Anglophone world.61 Published lists of subscribers were well established in much of Europe already in the late seventeenth century, and they constituted readily accessible sources for scholars looking for documentation on readerships. In other cases the archival records of publishing houses contained additional lists (i.e., those not made public) of buyers and subscribers. These lists proved irresistible to several scholars (myself included) precisely because they were data, linking the names of actual individuals to the specific publications to which they subscribed. In the end they generated dozens, possibly hundred of articles profiling the social contours of the audience for the Enlightenment. What better evidence of reading and readership could there be?

64Although the project’s geographic scope did not extend to Russia (or for that matter to anywhere in Eastern Europe), its practitioners paved the way for our own investigations by uncovering literally hundreds of subscription lists from several countries. These were subjected to every sort of analysis: thematic, geographic, social standing, gender, etc., and the results weighed heavily on our understanding of readerships in Europe and North America. And yet, the past decade or so has witnessed a precipitous decline in the historical sociology of reading, and the dethroning of subscription lists in particular. Interests have shifted to questions of interiority, emotion, and the mental world of individual readers, or the discursive commonalities of clusters or communities of readers. These are vitally important topics, but they are decidedly non-quantitative. No one so far as I can discern has explicitly rejected social history and numerical aggregations. But for the moment at least the field has clearly moved away from a mode of counting that in its flowering too frequently conflated subscribers and readers. In the process, though, it seems to have turned its back on counting and on subscribers altogether, understandable perhaps but—in the spirit of de Certeau’s insistence on the empirical—unfortunate nevertheless.

  • 62   Subscriptions existed to some older periodicals, Vedomosti, Moskovskie vedomosti, and Peterburgsk (...)

65I would argue that such lists do reveal a great deal, in particular about the culture and representation of reading in the late eighteenth century, so long as one avoids mechanically conflating subscribers with readership in general. Russia came late to the world of print journalism and even later to subscription lists, at least for publications directed to a general readership.62 Russianists also arrived late to the study of those lists, but arrive we ultimately did! The first formally announced subscriptions appeared in Monthly Works (Ezhemesiachnye sochineniia) in the mid-1750s, although these initial lists were not included in the journal itself. It was not until the middle of Catherine’s reign, roughly the 1770s that subscription lists became both public and relatively commonplace. Individuals subscribed in response to public announcements in existing imprints of a planned or forthcoming publication, and a few dozen such lists were published, generally for relatively prominent periodicals edited by leading literati of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

  • 63   The scholarship on Novikov is voluminous, and much of it concentrates on his activities as editor (...)

66As was true elsewhere, subscribers in Russia were invited via public announcements in existing periodicals such as the weekly St. Petersburg News (Sankt-Peterburgskie vedomosti, begun in 1703), and Moscow News (Moskovskie vedomosti, begun in 1756) to become sponsors of the fledgling venture via subscription. If the enterprise proved successful (relatively few did), they were invited on the pages of the publication to renew their subscriptions. The initial goal was largely practical, to establish a stable cohort of loyal buyers who might in turn encourage others to join their ranks. In an environment in which sales were still quite sparse (rarely more than a few hundred copies) and life spans of periodicals typically were short, establishing a core of subscribers was essential. No one understood this fact of publishing life better than Nikolai Novikov, the towering presence of Catherine-era publishing, whose years of work as an editor, occasional author, and major publisher taught him the value of networking, publicity, and sustained patronage.63 Both Bella Grigoryan’s and Rodolphe Baudin’s contributions to this volume say much more about Novikov and the wider intellectual circles in which he worked, but suffice it to say attracting loyal and renewing subscribers became one of his ongoing endeavor.

67This evolved into something of a ritual of reciprocal celebration between editorial boards on one hand and subscribers on the other, in particular when books and journals published the names of subscribers on the pages of the publication By making the names public the editors sent a dual message: one that celebrated the journal through the names of its often well-known subscribers, the other that celebrated the subscribers as a collective body of enlightened patrons for a worthy new intellectual venture, the book or journal in question.

68The published lists gave much more than names (and therein gender). They typically included formal titles appropriate to the subscriber’s estate (nobility, clergy, merchant, etc.) and even rank within that estate (among the nobility “His Radiance” [Ego Siiatel’stvo], “His Highly wellborn” [Ego Vysokoblagorodie] etc.; among merchants the specific guild was sometimes listed, as was the higher ranking of “Honorary or Distinguished Citizen” [Pochetnyi or Imianityi Grazhdanin]), town or region of residence, and sometimes occupation. As a completed roster a list publicly acknowledged their participation, and the public in question was obshchestvo, in this circumstance fashioned as a community of like-minded readers. Like the Ukrainian clerics of the Petrine era, this public reinforced their shared identity by writing lots of letters to each other, and these often included the affective language of friendship, as well as passages in foreign languages. This time, however, the articulation of cultural identity took several other forms as well—lodges, clubs, salons, societies, editorial collaborations, et al.—an institutional layering that far exceeded what had preceded them.

  • 64   A. Iu. Samarin, Chitatel’ v Rossii vo vtoroi polovine XVIII veka (Moscow, 2000); idem, Rasprostra (...)
  • 65   In addition to Aleksandr Samarin’s many relevant works see also my own, now rather dated, article (...)

69We now have a substantial volume of scholarship that has disaggregated readers’ inscriptions and subscribers’ lists for the late eighteenth century, thanks in large measure to the work of Aleksandr Samarin.64 The profile of subscribers (social, geographic, professional, gender) is clear and unmistakable: overwhelmingly male, drawn largely from the middle and upper strata of the hereditary nobility (ranks eight and above), and urban. With a few noteworthy exceptions (e.g., Morning Light [Utrennii svet], which had a large base of provincial clergy among its patrons, and the two journals from far away Tobol’sk in Western Siberia, Irtysh and A Learned Library [Biblioteka uchenaia]) St. Petersburg and Moscow predominated.65 None of this is surprising, but its meaning remains unexplained.

70Let us linger upon the profile that the lists reveal, as well as the fathoms of reading that they obscure about the dawning cultural politics of Russian readership in the latter eighteenth century. On one hand, they painted a highly skewed and circumscribed representation of reading and readers overall. They generally excluded whole strata of readers and reading practices, rendering them newly invisible, even though none had suddenly turned to ashes in the wake of educated society’s (obshchestvo) ascendance. They convey nothing concrete about subsequent contemporary readers, i.e., those to whom the subscribed copy got passed on, or who may have participated in shared readings of a given article or issue, whether read aloud or passed from hand to hand. Presumably the clubs, lodges, and drawing rooms of cosmopolitan Russia attracted he first wave of subsequent readers, who were much like the subscribers themselves, i.e., male nobles occupying relatively high positions in service. Over time, though, as copies travelled further from the initial subscriber, especially after the establishment of new venues of sociability, such as reading libraries, the demographics of this audience almost certainly grew less homogeneous. But all of this is nothing more than an educated guess, based on decidedly non-quantifiable evidence. Thus, there is much that the lists keep hidden.

71On the other hand, the Russian lists of subscribers from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries do provide a fair snapshot of what we can reasonably call the reading public. Both consequences, I suspect, were intentional, and here I think it is valuable to take seriously Ospovat’s deployment of disciplining, and to see it as a deeply embedded feature of a specifically lay intellectual life from its very outset. The cultural and political ascendancy of educated society is a foundational concept of the Russian Enlightenment, certainly, but the aspect of a collective and publicly constituted readership is less well studied. In this context Benedict Anderson’s concept of an imagined community seems apposite. Membership merged their self-constructed totemic identity as readers-in-public with a strong articulation of `Russia’ as both a nation and as a culture of the written word. More boldly, it constituted an expression of moral capital, a claim in full view for the preeminence of a particular cast of print-lay, civil type (grazhdanskii shrift), this worldly, and largely secular. Equally, it projected the cultural hegemony of a lay elite, a reading and writing public, who largely succeeded in presiding over the multiple discourses of `Russia,’ past, present, future. Sacrality vs. secularity aside, this profile stands worlds removed from the one over which Muscovy’s monastic overseers of the word presided.

72All of this helps give a clearer shape to the chronology of Russian readership. First of all, the reading public was new. Theirs was a world of the printed word triumphant, where, if one so wished, the space between thought, writing, publication and circulation to readers, both familiar and unknown, was dramatically foreshortened from what it had been in the seventeenth century. They had scant patience for the gaps and silences of old Russian culture, preferring instead to get everything into print as rapidly as was feasible. Just consider the tidal wave of publishing of old and newly uncovered documents in Novikov’s Ancient Russian Library (Drevniaia rossiiskaia vivliofika); the discovery and quick publication of Zadonshchina and The Tale of Igor’s Campaign (Slovo o polku Igoreve); and Karamzin’s document laden multi-volume History of the Russian State (Istoriia gosudarstva rossiiskogo).

73The reading public’s pursuit of social presence was different from those of earlier monastic reading communities and from the clerical republic of letters, precisely in their valorization of public and print. The latter certainly read voraciously, often wrote voluminously, and were at least as learned as the literati that came later. They had a clear sense of collective identity, but they made no effort to project themselves as a cohort to anyone but themselves. None of this difference had anything to do with advances in technology, and only slightly with markets or market consciousness. Even with the eighteenth century’s frontal assault on monasteries, these communities persevered more-or-less as before, even to the point of rejecting the choice of print so as to maintain some boundaries around circulation and readership. Prominent clergy, such as Platon Levshin and Gavriil Petrov, also participated fully in the culture of educated society, and, from the 1750s onward, quite a few homilists published their sermons in civil type and composed them in a literary style so as to attract educated lay readers. But none turned their backs on exclusively hand written texts, the older church alphabet and type (kirillitsa), or Church Slavonic as a fundamental language of Russian Orthodoxy.

  • 66   In Antonio Gramsci’s famous formulation, “cultural hegemony proposes that the prevailing cultural (...)

74Still, public-ness, was intoxicating business for all involved in the latter decades of the eighteenth century. In short order this public came to define themselves as overseers of the national discourse, and, as such, they convinced others to believe them. Ideological divisions and militant fractiousness notwithstanding, they effectively established their realm as the space in which ideas competed and verdicts were rendered. As Europe, the Russian past, peasant spirituality, et al. were discovered (or `rediscovered’) it was primarily through the lenses of the educated reading public, who then projected their categories onto everyone and everything else. This was cultural hegemony par excellence,66 albeit without the connotations of class. They established parameters within which subsequent generations—including ours—framed paradigms of Russian culture.

Conclusion: reading, Russia, the early modern, and De Certeau

75When seen in toto, the history of reading does not conform very closely to the eighteenth-century-as-Muscovy hypothesis. Rather it reinforces an older proposition that, in cultural matters, the long eighteenth century introduced new practices, distinct from even the most urbane and Europeanized literary practices elements of late Muscovy. The emergence of a lay literate public, the valorization of print, and especially the explosive growth of secular printing; the symbolic bifurcation of church orthography from civil, the Europeanization of elite culture, the elevation of reading and writing over seeing and, other changes gave the eighteenth century a distinctive cultural cast relative to what immediately preceded it. Our century still matters. Dixhuitièmistes can breathe easily.

76Let us not fall into a heuristic complacency, however. Eighteenth-century reading accommodated a motley and disjointed array of practices, old and new, secular and religious, lay and clerical, Russian and non-Russian. What had been present in the seventeenth century did not disappear or suddenly fade into the recesses of backwardness. Older reading practices remained, even if they grew invisible to the mental constructs of those very elites. In an age of print triumphant hand-copying thrived, even of printed books. In a century of European-informed models of childhood, institutionalized religious education grew exponentially, and literacy instruction remained overwhelmingly the terrain of the clergy, church books, and older pedagogies. Most of those introduced to reading at a basic level followed in the pedagogical footsteps of Muscovite forebears. And so on… Our job is to try to understand how they interacted or fit together.

77Consequently, the history of reading simply belies the rigid trope of an overarching secularization, a model that ultimately obscures as much as it explains. The enduring interpretive antinomies of renovatio that have described a radical separation of pre- and post-Petrine Russia appear today too over-determined to accommodate the diverse and messy reality that current research reveals the eighteenth century to have been. Equally in need of some critical revisiting is the enduring proposition that defined Russia’s late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as a space of two mutually incomprehensible cultures, one European and the other… shall we say, traditional. The boundaries between all of these opposites were simply too porous, with too much religiosity and church-book reading among lay elites, too much `secular’ reading among educated clergy and the rest of literate society, and too much borrowing back and forth to accommodate the polarity.

  • 67   The reference here is to M. M. Shtrange’s classic (and, in fact, still valuable) monograph, Demok (...)

78As an alternative let me suggest that the history of reading could adopt a different type of mapping, more polycentric or scalar, one that subsumes the eighteenth century within a longer early modern that was dynamic and sometimes radically discontinuous (the emergent lay reading public) that nevertheless sustained a great many Muscovite cultural practices. Here we return to the anti-deterministic or anti-reductionist inscriptions with which this chapter began, a call to refuse, on one hand, to reduce `reading’ to the reading public and its epigones, while on the other hand avoiding the temptation to invent (or perhaps to revive) an iconic, self-created, and unconstrained or anti-canonical cohort of popular readers, e.g., the `democratic intelligentsia’ of bygone eras.67 De Certeau was surely right in insisting on the power of prescriptive hierarchies within which all reading took place. Still, given the current state of our field I think we as researchers would do well to be particularly attentive to its limitations by pursuing the traces of unanticipated (even heretical in de Certeau’s sense) readings by some non-elite eighteenth century literate chudaki.

  • 68   D. Ransel, A Russian Merchant’s Tale: The Life and Adventures of Ivan Alekseevich Tolchenov, Base (...)
  • 69   Iu. Lotman, “Ob odnom chitatel’skom vospriiatii `Bednoi Lizy’ N. M. Karamzina (K strukture massov (...)

79From that perspective, the most interesting readers to seek out, and the ones who may allow us to pursue de Certeau’s paradox most fruitfully, are those who, like the merchant Ivan Tolchenov68 or the Viatka town chronicler, read and reflected at the interstices of cultural fluxes, who intermingled old and new in their choices of reading, religious and secular, literary and liturgical, satire and saints’ lives seemingly without needing to join one camp or define themselves categorically. Clearly, there were many other such readers (just recall Lotman’s searching essay on one person’s reading of Bednaia Liza69), and I suspect that some left traces of themselves, waiting to be discovered. If I were to make just one recommendation for future inquiry, it would be to scour the records in search of them. Similarly, research into the still poorly understood realm of semi-literacy ought to provide fertile ground for a more multi-dimensional portrait of eighteenth century readers and their practices. To be clear, the goal here is not to devalue in any way the ascendant well educated lay readers of the late eighteenth century, or to diminish the significance of the reading public. Both of these constitute defining and transformative features of the Elizabethan and Catherinian decades. Rather, it is to situate them within a more textured and more heterogeneous profile of readers and reading practices that can only enrich our understanding of what the eighteenth century was all about.

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Notes

1 M. de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley, 1984). See also J. Ahearne, Michel de Certeau: Interpretation and Its Other (Stanford, 1995), especially chapter 6, “Turns and Divisions,” 157-189.

2   De Certeau, 165-69. Robert Darnton addressed the questions of potential sources and methods more concretely in his well-known essay, “First steps toward a history of reading,” in The Kiss of Lamourette: Reflections in Cultural History (New York, 1990), 154-187.

3   De Certeau, 169.

4   See Kislova, “What, How and Why the Orthodox Clergy Read in Eighteenth-Century Russiain the present volume; Reitblat, “The Reading Audience of the Second Half of the Nineteenth Centuryand Leibov, Vdovin, “What and How Russian Students read in School 1840-1917” in vol. 2; Kozlov, “Reading during the Thaw” in vol. 3.

5   See Ospovat, “Reforming Subjects” in the present volume. 

6   See Grigoryan, “The Depiction of Readers and Publics in Russian Periodicals, 1769-1839” in the present volume.

7   See Zorin, “A Reading Revolution?” in the present volume.

8   See Waugh, “How Might we Write a History of Reading in Pre-Eighteenth-Century Russia?” in the present volume.

9   See Baudin, “Reading in Russia in the Times of Catherine II” in the present volume.

10   See as an example the Slavic Review forum “Divides and Ends: Periodizing the Early Modern in Russian History,” Slavic Review, 69, 2 (summer, 2010), 410-447, in particular the contributions by Donald Ostrowski, Russell Martin, and Nancy Kollmann: D. Ostrowski ,“The End of Muscovy: the Case for Circa 1800,” 426-438; R. E. Martin, “The Petrine Divide and the Periodization of Early Modern Russian History,” 410-425; N. S. Kollmann, “Comment: Divides and Ends-The Problem of Periodization,” 439-447. In his deliberately provocative essay, Ostrowski proposed that, if one looks at the underlying structures and dynamics of Muscovy, the period between 1450 and 1800 saw no significant turning points and instead constituted a single epoch of expansion and state building. Peter the Great, he insisted, did nothing to fundamentally redirect them.

A related forum appeared in Kritika in 2015: “Forces for Change in Early Modern Russia” with essays by Paul Bushkovitch (“Change and Culture in Early Modern Russia”) and Nancy Kollmann (“A Deeper Early Modern: A Response to Paul Bushkovitch”), Kritika, 18, 2 (spring 2015), 291-330. The most recent issue of the journal Quaestio Rossica, 6, 1 (2018) contains two additional meditations on this set of issues. Aleksandr Kamenskii, “K problem `vekovoi russkoi otstaslosti’,” 185-206; and Ol’ga Kosheleva, “Sovremennaia otechestvennaia istoriografiia Rossii predpetrovskogo vremeni: novye aspekty,” 269-289. Both essays situate the eighteenth century within a much longer continuum.

11   See inter alia Matthew P. Romaniello, The Elusive Empire: Kazan and the Creation of Russia, 1552-1671 (Madison, WI., 2012). Romaniello refers to the post-1551 arrangement as “the Muscovite empire.” Several – but not all – recent studies of empire, most notably those by Nancy Kollmann (The Russian Empire, 1450-1801 [Oxford, 2017]), and Valerie Kivelson and Ronald Suny (Russia’s Empires [Oxford, 2016]) have implicitly endorsed Romaniello’s insistence upon pushing empire back to the sixteenth century. One of the earliest texts to push the onset of empire back to Ivan IV is G. Hosking, Russia: People and Empire 1552-1917 (Cambridge, MA, 1997). By contrast, Alfred Rieber’s two recent studies adhere to a more traditional periodization. A. J. Rieber, The Imperial Russian Project: Autocratic Politics, Economic Development, and Social Fragmentation (Toronto, 2017); idem, The Struggle for the Eurasian Borderlands: From the Rise of Early Modern Empires to the End of the First World War (Cambridge, 2014).

12   See, for example, Irina Pozdeeva’s most recent writings on Muscovite printing, in which she portrays a much greater degree of continuity between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries than she had in earlier works. I. V. Pozdeeva, Chelovek. Kniga. Istoriia. Moskovskaia pechat’ XVII veka (Moscow, 2016); idem, “Moskovskii pechatnyi dvor XVII v. Mezhdu srednevekov’em i novym vremenem,” Acta Baltico-Slavica, 40 (2016), 126-166. For more on this see Waugh, “How Might We Write a History of Reading in Pre-Eighteenth-Century Russia?”, in the present volume.

13   A. A. Andreeva, ‘Mestnik Bozhii’ na tsarskom trone. Khristianskaia tsivilizatsionnaia model’ sakralizatsii vlasti v rossiiskoi istorii (Moscow, 2002). The concluding chapter is entitled (in Russian), “The Reforms of Peter I and the Beginning of the Process of Secularization of the Political Sphere.”

14   The essay “Tsar’ i Bog” is perhaps the most influential example, but the two of them, both together and separately, developed their approach to the sacred in several essays, thereby elaborating its centrality within discourses of political and moral authority well into the Imperial period. V. M. Zhivov and B. A. Uspenskii, “Tsar’ i Bog. Semioticheskie aspekty sakralizatsii monarkha v Rossii,” Iazyki kul’tury i problema perevodimosti (Moscow, 1987), 295-337. The article has since been republished several times and translated into English in a volume of their translations edited by Marcus Levitt: “Tsar and God” and Other Essays in Russian Cultural Semiotics (Boston, 2012), 1-112.  

See also Iu. Kagarlitskii, “Sakralizatsiia kak priem. Resursy ubeditel’nosti i vliiatel’nosti imperskogo diskursa v Rossii XVIII veka,” Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 38 (1999), 66-77.

Some other examples of this recent outpouring of relevant works: Chelovek i mir v kul’ture Rossii XVIII veka, published by Pomorskii Gos. Universitet (Arkhangelsk, 1997) includes a large section entitled “Religioznost’ russkogo cheloveka v vek Prosveshcheniia,” that intermingled clerical and lay writers extensively. More recently Gary Hamburg’s magnum opus, Russia’s Path Towards Enlightenment, contains the evocative subtitle Faith, Politics, and Reason, 1500-1801 (New Haven, 2016). Noteworthy among the many recent studies are works by Elise Wirtschafter, Andrey Ivanov, Maria-Cristina Bragoni, Ernst Zitser, Margarita Korzo, Elena Smilianskaia, Aleksandr Lavrov, Elena Pogosian, and several others also have placed religion and the supernatural at the center of eighteenth-century Russian culture. E. Kimerling Wirtschafter, Religion and Enlightenment in Catherinian Russia: The Teachings of Metropolitan Platon (DeKalb, ILL, 2013); A. S. Lavrov, Koldovstvo i religiia v Rossii, 1700-1740 gg. (Moscow, 2000); E. B. Smilianskaia, Volshebniki, Bogokhul’niki, Eretiki: Narodnaia religioznost’ i `dukhovnye prestupleniia’ v Rossii XVIII v. (Moscow, 2003); E. A. Zitser, The Transfigured Kingdom: Sacred Parody and Charismatic Authority at the Court of Peter the Great (Ithaca, NY, 2004); M.C. Bragone, “Fortuna e diffusione del Piccolo Catechismo di Lutero nella Russia di Pietro il Grande,” Rivista storica italiana, 1, 2017, 227-238; idem “Eshche o perevode stikhov Grigorija Bogoslova v Rossii vo vtoroi polovine XVII - nachale XVIII veka (Evfimij Chudovskij i Fedor Polikarpov),” Kul’tura i prosveshchenie v Rossii XVII-XVIII vv. (Moscow, forthcoming); A. Ivanov, “Reforming Orthodoxy: Russian Bishops and Their Church, 1721-1801,” PhD Dissertation. Yale University (New Haven, 2012).

15   V. Zhivov, Iz tserkovnoi istorii vremen Petra Velikogo. Issledovaniia i materialy (Moscow, 2004). See in particular the discussion of Iavorskii’s defense of the independence of the Church, 106-130.

16   This formulation comes from S. Strättling’s Allegorien der Imagination: Lesarkeit und Sichtarkeit in russischen Barock (Munich, 2005).

17   On Russian history and the visual turn see the introductory comment, “Russian History after the Visual Turn,” Kritika, 11, 2 (spring, 2010), 217-220, as well as the essays in the issue that dwell on visuals as texts in themselves. See also Valerie Kivelson and Joan Neuberger, eds., Picturing Russia: Explorations in Visual Culture (New Haven, 2010). Among recent monographs that have embraced the visual turn see E. Vishlenkova, Vizual’noe narodovedenie, ili `Uvidet’ russkogo dano ne kazhdomu’ (Moscow, 2011). A very recent issue of Kritika, includes a very engaging series of essays on Muscovite visual sources, largely the astonishing Litsevoi svod during Ivan IV. “Visions of Russian Culture and Politics: Images as Historical Sources,” Kritika, 19, 1 (Winter 2018), 1-114. See in particular the essays by Brian Boeck, Nancy Kollmann, and Isolde Thyret.

18   M. Levitt, The Visual Dominant in Eighteenth-Century Russia (DeKalb Illinois, 2011). Levitt is primarily interested in the idea and articulation of the visual (“to see and be seen”) within Russian letters (“the intersections of Russian literature and the visual”) rather than with legibility/seeing as reading. Within that frame of reference he situates his analysis squarely within the Enlightenment. At the same time he recognizes the long history within Christendom, including Orthodoxy, of privileging `seeing’ and `light’ as pathways to knowing.

19   This has been a continuing thread in several of his most influential essays, extending from the 1980s until the present. See, in particular, R. Chartier, “Culture as Appropriation: Popular Cultural Uses in Early-Modern France,” in S. L. Kaplan (ed.), Understanding Popular Culture: Europe From the Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century (Amsterdam, 1984), 229-254; “Texts and Images. The Art of Dying,” in The Cultural Uses of Print in Early-Modern France (Princeton, 1987), 32-70. For a defense of the heuristic distinction between high and low culture see J. LeGoff, The Medieval Imagination (Chicago, 1992), 1-12.

20   An early articulation of skepticism is Lawrence Duggan, “Was Art Really the ‘Book of the Illiterate?”, Word and Image, 5 (1989), 227-51. See also Sara Lipton, “The Vulgate of Experience: Preaching, Art, and the Material World,” unpublished keynote address at the International Medieval Congress, Leeds July 2015.

21   Levitt alludes to this possibility in his discussion of the work of Pavel Florenskii and more recently I. Esaulov, who has posited a distinctly Russian visuality embedded in the notion of ikonichnost’. Their usage, though, is decidedly religio-philosophical, a way of abstractly characterizing Russian culture overall, rather than social or empirical.

22   See, for example, A. Golubinskii, “Literacy in Russian Peasant Society at the End of the Eighteenth Century,” in Newsletter of the Study Group on Eighteenth Century Russia (2015). This is an abstract of a much more detailed unpublished presentation from the group’s annual Hoddesdon meeting of that year.

23   For the earlier period Simon Franklin has conducted the most searching analysis of literacy. See his article, “Literacy and Documentation in Early Medieval Russia,” Speculum, 60, 1 (1985), 1-38 as well as his book, Writing, Society, and Culture in Early Rus c. 950-1350 (Cambridge, 2002).

24   The longitudinal evidence on literacy outside the upper clergy and upper serving men is perplexing and often contradictory, in particular for soldiers and military recruits. Carol Stevens’ well-crafted study of Belgorod soldiers in the seventeenth century reveals a relatively high proportion of signers, between twenty and forty percent, and a much higher one among officers. Christoph Witzenrath’s analysis of literacy among military officers in Irkutsk during the late seventeenth century conveys something similar, and an even higher level of literacy among Irkutsk townsmen (which Witzenrath explains as being a function of the necessity for literacy among traders and merchants in the borderlands who typically engaged with literate foreign merchants). But surveys of soldiers and soldiers’ children from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—times when the institutions of primary education are generally understood to be expanding—show much lower proportions across the board, typically1.5 to ten percent, even in the north and even among junior officers. For example, a 1771 survey of over 6,000 military recruits from Moscow province yield an overall literacy rate (name signing) of 1.54%, with a peasant literacy of 0.56%! Household peasants rated higher (nearly 20%) which means that those poor farming souls sent by their village elders to serve in the ranks had virtually no literacy at all! Children of merchants (25%) and clergy (75%) were by far the most literate. An extensive 1844 survey of adult males—discussed also in the chapter by Damiano Rebecchini—from Saratov province revealed (once the figures have been corrected for some computational errors) an overall literacy rate of 4.0%, with an urban rate (merchants, meshchan’e, and household peasants) of almost 31% and a rural peasant (state, crown, and serfs) rate of 2.1%. A few decades later, in 1880, 22% of recruits signed their names, comparable to or lower than what Stevens and Witzenrath show for Muscovy. Unless one is prepared to argue that, after a century of institution building, the eighteenth and early nineteenth century witnessed a decline in lower-class literacy from where it stood in the seventeenth century (so far, no one has proposed that), something remains severely under-explained.

C. B. Stevens, “Belgorod: Notes on Literacy and Language in the Seventeenth-Century Army,” Russian History, 7 (1980), 115-122; C. Witzenrath, “Literacy and Orality in the Eurasian Frontier: Imperial Culture and Space in Seventeenth-Century Siberia and Russia,” Slavonic and East European Review, 87, 1 (January, 2009), 55-70; L. V. Volkov, “O gramotnosti naseleniia Rossii v XVIII v.,” Voprosy arkhivovedeniia (March-June, 1964), 125; B. M. Mironov, “The Development of Literacy in Russia and the USSR from the Tenth to the Twentieth Centuries,” History of Education Quarterly, 31, 2 (summer, 1991), 240; “Sostoianie gramotnosti mezhdu kupechestvom i zhiteliami podatnago sostoianiia v saratovskoi gubernii,” ZMNP, vol. 14 (1846), 525-528.

25Trudy istoriko-arkheograficheskogo instituta. Vol. XI Krepostnaia manufaktura v Rossii, Pt, IV, Sotsial’nyi sostav rabochikh pervoi poloviny XVIII veka (Leningrad, 1934), 15-39; A. Kahan, “The `Hereditary Workers’ Hypothesis and the Development of a Factory Labor Force in Eighteenth-and Nineteenth-Century Russia,” in C. Arnold Anderson and Mary Jane Bowman (eds.), Education and Economic Development (Chicago, 1965), 295.

26   The classic work for late medieval England western remains M. Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record: England 1066-1307 (Oxford, 1991).

27   The leading Soviet and post-Soviet anthropologists and knigovedy, such as M. M. Gromyko and I. V. Pozdeeva, have produced a wealth of scholarship demonstrating incontrovertibly that some peasants owned and inscribed books. They have tended to draw broader conclusions from this evidence than I think is warranted, but their field research has nevertheless been impeccable and deservedly influential.

28   An entire conference held in Moscow in January 2017 was devoted to the topic, the vast majority of which presented new research based upon close and very concrete analyses of specific sites or modes of learning, both institutional and domestic. The most recent contribution to this growing corpus is I. Fedyukin, “Shaping up the Stubborn: School Building and `Discipline’ in Early Modern Russia,” Russian Review, 77, 2 (April 2018), 200-218.

29   Educational reform and projects for reform continue to draw interest of course. See, for example, Igor’ Fediukin et al., `Reguliarnaia akademiia uchrezhden budet…’ Obrazovatel’nye proekty v pervoi polovine XVIII veka (Moscow, 2015).

30   Kosheleva has been pursuing this line of reasoning as far back as 1994, in an essay entitled “Pedagogicheskie traditsii pravoslaviia,” where she put forth the idea of a distinctly Orthodox “pedagogical paradigm for Russia.” Since that time she has produced a very large number of articles sketching out her notion of a distinctly Russian Orthodox conception of education during the pre-Petrine era. She has also insisted upon the relevance of Orthodoxy in Russian education for the entire Imperial period, its inner connection with humanistic currents, and its central place in popular education and missionary–directed education within the Empire. Since then she has written numerous articles on the subject. Regarding apprenticeship see inter alia “Uchitel’ i uchitel’stvo v dopetrovskoi Rusi i v period petrovskikh preobrazovanii,” in Uchitel’ i uchenik: stanovlenie intersub’’ektnykh otnoshenii v istorii pedagogiki Vostoka i Zapada (Moscow, 2013), 627-660; “Fenomeny shkoly i uchenichestva v pravoslavnoi kul’ture: problema izucheniia moskovskikh uchilishch XVII v.,” in E. Tokareva (ed.), Religioznoe obrazovanie v Rossii i Evrope XVII v., 82-94; “Educational Models for Enlightened Eighteenth-Century Russians,” Russian Studies in History, 48, 2 (2009), 50-62; “What Should One Teach?: A New Approach to Russian Childhood Education as Reflected in Manuscripts from the Second Half of the Seventeenth Century,” in M. Di Salvo, D. Kaiser, V. Kivelson (eds.), Russian History in Word and Image (Boston, 2015), 269-295.

31   Originally published in French in 1977, the English translation appeared in 1982. F. Furet, J. Ozouf, Reading and Writing. Literacy in France from Calvin to Jules Ferry (Cambridge, 1982), especially 23-58.

32   Franklin develops this point extensively in his soon-to-appear book, The Russian Graphosphere 1450-1850 (Cambridge, 2019). There he addresses numerous sites and surfaces on which words appeared: cloth, enamel, icons, gravestones, etc., all of which were thereby transformed into sites available for reading.

33   D. Uo (Daniel Waugh), Istoriia odnoi knigi: Viatka i `ne-sovremennost’’ v russkoi kul’tury petrovskogo vremeni (St. Petersburg, 2003).

34   Two recent collections deserve attention here: V. Rjéoutski (ed.), Quand le francais gourvernait la Russie. (Paris, 2016), and D. Offord, L. Ryazanova-Clarke, V. Rjéoutski, G. Argent (eds.), French and Russian in Imperial Russia. 2 volumes. Volume 1: Language Use among the Russian Elite. Volume 2: Language Attitudes and Identity (Edinburgh, 2015).

35http://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/womenwriters. See also H. Hoogenboom, “Bibliography and National Canons: Women Writers in France, England, Germany and Russia (1800-2010),” Comparative Literature Studies, 50, 2 (May, 2013), 314-341, and idem, “Sentimental Novels and Pushkin: European Literary Markets and Russian Readers,” Slavic Review, 74, 3 (Fall, 2015), 553-574.

36   Menshikov’s daughters, Mariia and Aleksandra, are the subjects of some ongoing research. Both of them were home tutored, raised to be cultured ladies at court, and both made illustrious if tragically brief betrothals, one to Peter II, the other to Gustav Von Bühren (or Biron), the favorite of Anna Ioannovna. Both wrote letters in French. A. V. Morokhin, “K biografii kniazhny Aleksandry Aleksandrovny Biron, urozhennoi Menshikovoi,” Menshikovskie chteniia, 3, 10 (2012), 90-95.

37   Iu. N. Bespiatykh and A. I. Rakhman, “Gramotnyi A, D. Menshikov,” Menshikovskie chteniia, 1 (2003), 26-29. Bespiatykh and Rakhman maintain that Menshikov knew how to read, and was described as such by a handful of courtiers and foreign envoys (at least one of whom, the Holstein envoy Friedrich Bergholtz, could neither read nor understand Russian) as well as by some notations in his daily account books (“povsednevnye zapiski delam kniazia A. D. Menshikova”) of the 1720s. The wording of these accounts of his engaging in reading seems vague and formulaic in their descriptions, suggesting at most, that official papers and documents were arrayed in front of him. Serious doubts, therefore, remain about his ability to read. Implicitly the authors accept the consensus that Menshikov did not know how to write notwithstanding an extensive corpus of letters and documents with his name affixed. All, one assumes, were dictated and penned by scribes or other chancellery officials. Thus, one’s best guess is that if Menshikov achieved any literacy at all (which I doubt) it was minimal.

38   M. Lamarche Marrese, “‘The Poetics of Everyday Behavior’ Revisited: Lotman, Gender, and the Evolution of Russian Noble Identity,” Kritika, 11, 4 (fall, 2010), 701-739. Several of the contributors to French and Russian in Imperial Russia elaborated on this theme of the continued use of Russian among Francophone Russian elites in the late eighteenth century. See in particular the essays by Offord, Argent, Rjéoutski; Rjéoutski and Somov; Murphy, Baudin, and Tipton. Taken as a whole they provide compelling evidence demonstrating that the elites switched languages quite deliberately, often engaging in what Tipton described as «switching codes» from one language to the other.

39   M. Schippan, Die Aufklärung in Russland im 18. Jahrhundert (Wiesbaden, 2012) Wolfenbütteler Forschungen, Band 131; N. I. Khoteev, Nemetskaia kniga i russkii chitatel’ v pervoi polovine XVIII veka (St. Petersburg, 2008). Khoteev’s study adheres to the standard periodization, but it argues, based upon sales and library inventories, that German-language books circulated more broadly within the court and service elites than was previously thought.

40   E. Winter, Die deutsch-russische Begegnung und Leonhard Euler. Beiträge zu den beziehungen zwischen der deutschen und der russischen Wissenschaft und Kultur im 18. Jahrhundert (Berlin, 1958); idem, Halle als Ausgangspunkt der deutschen Russlandkunde im 18. Jahrhundert. (Berlin, 1953); Helmut Grasshoff, Literaturbeziehungen im 18. Jahrhundert: Studien und Quellen zur deutsch-russischen und russisch-westeuropäischen Kommunikation (Berlin, 1986); P. N. Berkov, Helmut Grasshoff, Ulf Lehmann, Literarische Wechselbeziehungen zwischen Russland und Westeuropa im 18. Jahrhundert (Berlin, 1968); B. I. Krasnobaev, Ocherki istorii russkoi kul’tury XVIII veka: obshchestvennaia mysl’, shkola, nauka, iskusstvo, i literatura, kniga, periodika (Moscow, 1972).

41   An exception to this is a recent essay by Ekaterina Kislova, “Deutsch als Sprache der Aufklärung an den russischen Seminarien im 18. Jahrhundert: zur Geschichte der kulturellen Kontakte,” in A. Beutel, M. Nooke (eds), Religion und Aufklärung. Akten des Ersten Internationalen Kongresses zur Erforschung der Aufklärungstheologie (Tübingen, 2016), 327-336.

42   See the unpublished paper from that conference by A. Kostin, “Latinskaia obrazovannost’ kak priem v russkoi belletristiki 1760-1780 gg.”

43   G. L. Freeze, The Russian Levites: Parish Clergy in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge, MA, 1977), chapter 4, “The New World of the Seminary,” 78-106.

44   To date Kislova has produced the most extensive body of research on the teaching and deployment of Latin—as well as other languages—in Orthodox seminaries. In addition to her chapter in this volume see “‘Latin’ and ‘Slavonic’ Education in the Primary classes of Russian eighteenth century seminaries,” Slověne. International Journal of Slavic Studies, 4, 2 (2015), 72-91; “Latyn’ i ‘slovenskii’ v nachal’nom obrazovanii detei dukhovenstva XVIII v.,” Studia Slavica, 60, 2 (2015), 315-330; “Iz istorii lingvisicheskoi kompetentsii dukhovenstva XVIII v.: uchitelia evropeiskikh iazykov v russkikh seminariiakh,” Vestnik moskovskogo universiteta. Seriia 9. Filologiia, 2 (2016), 61-76.

45   R. Romanchuk, Byzantine Hermeneutics and Pedagogy in the Russian North: Monks and Masters at the Kirillo-Belozerskii Monastery, 1397-1501 (Toronto, 2007), especially chapters 3, 4 and 5. See also N. V. Ponyrko, S. A. Semiachko (eds.), Knizhnye tsentry drevnei Rusi. Knizhniki i rukopisi Kirillo-Belozerksogo monastyria (St. Petersburg, 2014).

46   For examples of these alternative readings see the reviews by Donald Ostrowski in Slavic Review, 68, 2 (Summer 2009), 426-427 (mildly skeptical); and Christian Raffensperger in Speculum, 87, 1 (January, 2012), 275-276 (more convinced).

47   M. V. Kukushkina, Monastyrskie biblioteki russkogo severa. Ocherki po istorii knizhnoi kul’tury XVI-XVII vekov (Leningrad, 1977).

48   I. M. Gritsevskaia, Chtenie i chet’i sborniki v drevnerusskikh monastyriakh XV-XVII vv. (St. Petersburg, 2012), 15-47, 62, 151 and ff.

49   A recent collection of documents relating to Ivan Neronov provide a sample of this particular epistolary network. K. Ia Kozhurin (ed.), Sobranie dokumentov epokhi: Protopop Ivan Neronov (St. Petersburg, 2012), 56-66.

50   On science as a republic of letters, see A. Grafton Worlds Made by Words (Cambridge, MA, 2009); Defenders of the Text: The Traditions of Scholarship in the Age of Science, 1450-1800 (Cambridge, MA, 1991).

51   M. Kiseleva, Intellektual’nyi vybor Rossii vtoroi polovinoi XVII-nachala XVIII veka. Ot drevnerusskoi knizhnosti k evropeiskoi uchenesti (Moscow, 2012).

52   In this context `buyers’ refers specifically to the person to whom an individual copy went. Some earlier documentary collections occasionally employed a different definition of buyers to include those who bought directly from the press, sometimes in bulk, primarily for the purpose of resale or as agents for institutions. In some studies, buyers such as these were conflated with `readers.’ S. P. Luppov, Chitateli izdanii moskovskoi tipografii v seredine XVII veka (Leningrad, 1983).

53   There is a very large literature, almost entirely composed of brief and highly focused articles, on readers’ inscriptions. There are as yet no synthetic studies, and the state of the research does not lend itself to systematic aggregation, but they do raise suggestive possibilities. See, as examples, G. Iu. Semenova, “Ob interesakh chitatelei XVII veka po materialam zapisei v knigakh (opyt primeneniia korrelatsionogo analiza),” Otechestvennaia istoriia, 1 (1994), 169-178; L. I. Kiseleva, “Zapisi na knigakh kak istoricheskii istochnik,” in Iu. G. Alekseev et al. (eds.), Aleksandr Il’ich Kopanev. Sbornik statei i vospominanii (St. Petersburg, 1992), 117-134; A. A. Amosov, and others authored a large number of such studies. See, for example, A. A. Amosov, “Knizhnaia kul’tura krest’ianstva russkogo severa. Istochniki i perspektivy razrabotok,” in Vklad severnogo krest’ianstva v razvitie material’noi i dukhovnoi kul’tury (Vologda, 1980), 36-41; E. V. Blagoveshchenskaia, “Nadpisi krest’ian i dvorovykh XVIII-XIX vv. na knigakh,” Istoriia SSSR, 1 (1965), 140-143; Ia. D. Isaevich, “Krug chitatel’skikh interesov gorodskogo naseleniia Ukrainy v XVI-XVII vv.,” Fedorovskie chteniia, 1976 (Moscow, 1978), 65-76.

54   Here I am referring explicitly to inscriptions (chitatel’skie/ vladel’cheskie zapisi) rather than the broader category of marginalia or commentary, which had a very different set of functions and require a completely different type of analysis. The checklist edited by L. I. Kiseleva, Korpus zapisei na staropechatnykh knigakh (St. Petersburg, 1992), which was intended primarily as a reference index, includes every notation and inscription.

55   Among the most informative of these studies are the many articles by A. I. Kopanev, e.g., “Iz istorii bytovaniia knigi v severnykh derevniakh (XVI v.)”, Pamiatniki kul’tury. Novye otkrytki 1975 (Moscow, 1976), 98-100.

56   Here I am alluding to two strands of late Soviet, and even post-Soviet historiography, one sociological, the other ethno-cultural. The first maintained that there existed a discernible cohort of common (or “democratic”) readers, who, in the eyes of some knigovedy, constituted a much larger-than-imagined substrate of conscious consumers of the book. The second line of argument is somewhat different in that it looks at peasant bookishness and oral traditions less as social stratification and more as evidence of an enduring religiosity and essential Russianness especially among Old Believers. In their separate ways both of these approaches imagine peasant reading as acts of resistance to the dictates of formal authority. See, in this context, the many foundational works of Irina Vasil’evna Pozdeeva. I. V. Pozdeeva, “Zapisi na staropechatnykh knigakh kirillovskogo shrifta kak istoricheskii istochnik,” Fedorovskie chteniia (1976), 39-54; idem, “Knizhnost’ staroobriadcheskogo verkhokam’ia. Istoki, chitateli, sud’by (po zapisiam na ekzempliarakh knig Verkhokam’skogo sobraniia NB MGU),” Mir staroobriadchestva, 6 (2005), 120-127; idem, “Lichnost’ i obshchina v istorii russkogo staroobriadchestva,” Mir staroobriadchestva, vol. 5 (1999), 3-28; idem, Chelovek, kniga, istoriia: moskovskaia pechat’ XVII veka (Moscow, 2016).

57   Some examples of informative studies of personal libraries are O. E. Glagoleva, “Chastnye knizhnye sobraniia kak istoricheskii istochnik (po materialam Tul’skoi gubernii vtoroi poloviny XVIII-pervoi poloviny XIX v.),” Vspomogatel’nye istoricheskie distsipliny. Vol. 19, 1987, 170-182; R. G. Pikhoia, “Istoriia o tom kak krepostnoi s general-auditorom sudilsia,” in Knigi starogo Urala (Sverdlovsk, 1989), 180-184; and P. I. Khoteev, “Biblioteka sozdatelia russkogo farfora D. I. Vinogradova,” in S. P. Luppov et al. (eds.), Russkie knigi i biblioteki v XVI-pervoi polovine XIX veka (Leningrad, 1983), 72-84.

58   For a different approach to libraries and their owners see M. J. Okenfuss, The Rise and Fall of Latin Humanism in Early-Modern Russia: Pagan Authors, Ukrainians, and the Resiliency of Muscovy (Leiden, 1995).

59   The figure of 13,000 comes from a 1783 article in Livlandische Jahrbucher (Riga) by an obscure Baltic scholar, Friedrich Konrad Gadebusch, as cited in Luppov below. Luppov was appropriately skeptical. On the library in general see S. R. Dolgova, “O biblioteke A. D. Menshikova,” in B. B. Piotrovskii, S. P. Luppov (eds.), Russkie biblioteki i ikh chitatel’ (Iz istorii russkoi kul’tury epokhi feodalizma) (Leningrad, 1983), 87-97; I. V. Saverkina, “K istorii biblioteki A. D. Menshikova,” Kniga v Rossii XVI-seredina XIX v. (Leningrad, 1987), 37-45; S. P. Luppov, Kniga v Rossii v pervoi chetverti XVIII veka (Leningrad, 1973), 230.

60   N. I. Khoteev, Chitateli biblioteki Akademii nauk po dannym za 1724-1728 i 1731-1736 (St. Petersburg, 2010). The names of individual borrowers and the books they borrowed are listed on pages 18-134.

61   So far as I am aware the first English-language expression of scholarly enthusiasm for the potential insights that these lists offered is P. J. Wallis, “Book Subscription Lists,” The Library Fifth series, 29, 3 (September, 1974), 259-286. Wallis went on to establish the Book Subscription List Project in Newcastle that same year, and he energetically proselytize on its behalf, and the journal The Library became a central locus for this scholarship. See, e.g., his subsequent article, “The Book Subscription Lists Project: Its Relevance for Historians of Mathematics,” Historia Mathematica, 2 (1975), 321-326.

62   Subscriptions existed to some older periodicals, Vedomosti, Moskovskie vedomosti, and Peterburgskie vedomosti. But individuals who did subscribe were not publicized. Similarly, the Academy of Science’s (mostly Latin) scholarly periodicals were open to subscription at home and among scientists elsewhere in Europe. But this had more to do with maintaining communications within the international scientific republic of letters rather than with seeking visibility in Petersburg.

63   The scholarship on Novikov is voluminous, and much of it concentrates on his activities as editor, journalist, and publisher. See, in particular, I. F. Martynov, Knigoizdatel’ Nikolai Novikov (Moscow, 1981); R. Faggionato, A Rosicrucian Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: The Masonic Circle of N. I. Novikov (Dordrecht, 2005); W. Gareth Jones, Nikolay Novikov, Enlightener of Russia (Cambridge, 1984); and G. Marker, Publishing, Printing and the Origins of Intellectual Life in Russia, 1700-1800 (Princeton, 1985), 103-152.

64   A. Iu. Samarin, Chitatel’ v Rossii vo vtoroi polovine XVIII veka (Moscow, 2000); idem, Rasprostranenie i chitatel’ pervykh pechatnykh knig po istorii Rossii (konets XVII-XVIII v.) (Moscow, 1998), especially chapter 3, 126-153; idem, “Zhenshchiny kak gruppa podpischikov na knigi i zhurnaly v kontse XVIII veka,” Sovremennye problemy knigovedeniia, vol. 13 (2000), 154-171; “O geografii rasprostraneniia russkikh izdanii vo vtoroi polovine XVIII veka,” Izvestiia vysshikh uchebnykh zavedenii. Problemy poligrafii i izdatel’skogo dela, 1-2 (2000), 133-144; “`Sie vydumano v pol’zu obshchestva i avtora’: podpisnye izdaniia v Rossii vtoroi poloviny XVIII veka,” Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 54 (2002), 146-163.

65   In addition to Aleksandr Samarin’s many relevant works see also my own, now rather dated, articles, “Russian Journals and Their Readers in the Late Eighteenth Century,” Oxford Slavonic Papers New series, 19 (1986), 88-101, and “Novikov’s Readers,” The Modern Language Review, 77, 4 (Oct. 1982), 894-905.

66   In Antonio Gramsci’s famous formulation, “cultural hegemony proposes that the prevailing cultural norms of a society […] must not be perceived as natural and inevitable, but must be recognized as artificial social constructs […] that must be investigated to discover their philosophic roots....”

67   The reference here is to M. M. Shtrange’s classic (and, in fact, still valuable) monograph, Demokraticheskaia intelligentsiia v Rossii v XVIII veke (Moscow, 1965). The book itself builds upon a considerable body of careful research, but the defining paradigm of a coherent `democratic intelligentsia’ was highly anachronistic, to say the least, for the eighteenth century.

68   D. Ransel, A Russian Merchant’s Tale: The Life and Adventures of Ivan Alekseevich Tolchenov, Based on His Diary (Bloomington, Indiana, 2008). See also A. I. Kupriianov, Gorodskaia kul’tura russkoi provintsii. Konets XVIII-pervaia polovina XIX veka (Moscow, 2007), especially chapters 1 and 4.

69   Iu. Lotman, “Ob odnom chitatel’skom vospriiatii `Bednoi Lizy’ N. M. Karamzina (K strukture massovogo soznaniia XVIII v.),” XVIII Vek, vol. 7 (1966), 280-285.

Auteur

Gary Marker is Professor of History Emeritus at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, USA.  His fields of scholarship are seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Russia and Ukraine, primarily focusing on print culture, education, religious discourse, gender, and visual texts. He is currently completing a study on Ukrainian monastics of the Petrine era, in particular their homiletic and epistolary writings, tentatively entitled, Mazepa’s Preachers, Peter’s Men.  Future projects include a study of the cosmology of the Petrine era heretic, Grigorii Talitskii.

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