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Reading Russia, vol. 2

 | 
Damiano Rebecchini
, 
Raffaella Vassena

Part II. The Long Nineteenth Century

Reading Foreign Novels, 1800-1848

Damiano Rebecchini

Texte intégral

1In the first half of the nineteenth century, a number of changes took place in the way that Russia consumed literature. The readers, the type of texts that were read, and, of course, the way people read—all of these things changed. In a society still rigidly divided into estates, these changes took place reasonably slowly, but by the middle of the century, they were already clearly visible to contemporary observers. In this chapter I will first analyze the role that foreign novels played in such changes during the first decades of the nineteenth century. I will then show how, along with the success of the Russian novel in the 1830s and 1840s, the reading of foreign novels acquired new functions for the Russian reading public.

  • 1   See Baudin, “Reading in the times of Catherine II,” vol. 1. See also G. Marker, Publishing, Print (...)
  • 2   Cf. A. B. Blium, “Massovoe chtenie v russkoi provintsii kontsa XVIII-pervoi chetverti XIX v.,” in (...)
  • 3   According to Boris Mironov, “by the end of the eighteenth century the level of literacy among mal (...)

2In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Russian reading audience was following a trend that had begun in the 1780s but had now become more prominent.1 In this period, the Russian readership increasingly began to include a broad and diverse population, ranging from small provincial landowners to civil servants, from clerks and the military to the merchant class, and the urban masses. The new readers also began to include a small but growing number of peasants.2 Among the non-nobles, the vast majority of Russians were illiterate or semi-literate, but their reading skills had improved.3 The degree of improvement depended on several factors: one’s job, and whether that job required reading and writing skills; their education and the position one had reached in one’s civil service or military career; and, finally, one’s access books.

  • 4   On the use of French in Russian high society, cf. D. Offord, G. Argent, V. Rjéoutski, “French and (...)
  • 5   Marker, Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of the Intellectual Life in Russia, 196.
  • 6   As the literary critic Vissarion Belinskii writes: “in Russia there are very many people who have (...)
  • 7   On the knowledge of French among the Russian clergy and merchants at the beginning of the ninetee (...)
  • 8   M. N. Kufaev, Istoriia russkoi knigi v XIX veke (Moscow, 1927), 141.

3Despite the prestige enjoyed by the French language in Russia, at the end of the eighteenth century the share of readers who read in French (notwithstanding its cultural influence) did not represent the majority of the Russian reading public.4 As Gary Marker notes, in the 1790s, “there is no question that reading in French remained far less widespread among the Russian public than reading in Russian.”5 Outside of high society, the fact that some readers from the merchant and civil servant classes knew French did not necessarily mean that they read literary works in French.6 A passive understanding of foreign languages—acquired for purpose of reading rather than conversation—was widespread among some of the members of the orthodox clergy and in the world of the wealthier merchants.7 Nevertheless, books in foreign languages were far more expensive than Russian ones, and transactions involving them mainly occurred in the two capitals. Circulation of foreign books in the provinces was comparatively limited.8

  • 9   On the factors that contributed most to the expansion of the Russian reading public, see Rebecchi (...)
  • 10   On the increase of the education in the Russian province see Smith-Peter “The struggle to create (...)
  • 11   Cf. Blium, “Massovoe chtenie v russkoi provintsii kontsa XVIII–pervoi chetverti XIX v.,” 37-57; M (...)
  • 12   N. Barsukov, Zhizn’ i trudy M. P. Pogodina (St. Petersburg, 1888-1910), vol. 6, 255-256.

4Starting from the 1820s, several factors contributed to the expansion of the Russian reading public outside the world of the nobility.9 Among these, the most significant seem to be the general improvement of Russia’s economic situation, some limited social mobility, the increased spread of both school- and home-based education, and finally the greater efficiency of the book market—the last of these made possible by a significant reduction in the price of Russian books and the faster circulation of texts in general10. A significant measure of this progress was also due to the improved efficiency of the Russian postal service, which made books, newspapers, and journals more easy to access in the Russian provinces, which had previously only been marginally affected by the capitals’ cultural influence.11 In 1842 the literary critic Stepan Shevyrev summarized the evolution of reading in Russia as follows: “In Lomonosov’s time reading was a matter of conscious effort; under Catherine the Great it became one of the luxuries of the educated class; in Karamzin’s time, a requisite badge of enlightenment; with Zhukovskii and Pushkin, a social need.”12

  • 13   By the term “novel” we mean what contemporary Russian catalogues labelled “roman,” i.e. fictional (...)
  • 14   See f.i. Golovina, “Belles-Lettres and the literary interests of middling landowners,” in the pre (...)

5The novel was the literary genre that best met the cultural needs of this growing, new, and diverse reading public.13 At the beginning of the nineteenth century, along with the fable, the novel represented the cultural product most easily understandable to readers with varying degrees of education; it was easily accessible for those who lived in the more remote provinces, and was not too expensive; and most importantly, it had become a fashionable object, a foreign novelty with a prestigious status among the Russian elite, whose cultural cachet many new readers were keen to possess. Starting from the first decades of the nineteenth century, the novel became the preferred form of literary entertainment for most Russian readers, the one in which they invested most of their time and money. It was in this period that the so-called “reader of novels” emerged, a reader who reduced his consumption of other competing textual forms, from religious literature to utilitarian publications, and who focused almost exclusively on the novel as a genre14. While not representing the majority of readers, this type of reader was a new phenomenon which appeared in Russia in the first decades of the century and became fully established between the 1830s and the 1840s.

  • 15   See Rebecchini, “The success of the Russian novel,” in the present volume.
  • 16   Cf. Kufaev, Istoriia russkoi knigi, 29. See different figures in V. V. Sipovskii, Iz istorii russ (...)
  • 17   On this, cf. R. Baudin, “Normativnaia kritika i romannoe chtenie v Rossii serediny XVIII veka,” i (...)
  • 18   See Zorin, “A Reading revolution?” vol. 1. See also N. D. Kochetkova, Literatura russkogo sentime (...)
  • 19   Here we will consider only novels published as standalone first editions, not those published in (...)
  • 20   In fact, reprints and print runs of traditional eighteenth-century Russian lubok romances are at (...)
  • 21   [P. I. Bystrov], Sistematicheskii reestr russkim knigam s 1831 po 1846 (St. Petersburg, 1846). Th (...)

6It was during this period that a radical change took place in the relationship between the consumption of foreign literary works and Russian ones15. Throughout the eighteenth century, about 943 novels were published in the whole of Russia; of these, 839 were foreign novels translated into Russian and 104 were original Russian novels.16 To these one should add novels read in foreign languages that were imported from abroad or published within the borders of the Russian Empire. At the end of the eighteenth century, the success of the European Sentimental novel with the Russian public seemed to have swept away many of the prejudices against reading novels that were vented by the coryphaei of Russian classicism between the 1750s and the 1770s.17 As Karamzin had stated, reading novels had become a fundamental experience for the sensitive, educated Russian man.18 Russian publishers had acknowledged the public’s rising interest in this genre and had started to offer them an increasing number of novels in translation. The number of European novels translated into Russian in the first thirty years of the century was ten times that of the new, original Russian novels published in that same period. According to our calculations, from 1801 to 1829, 489 novels were translated into Russian and published, compared to only 46 original Russian novels that saw publication.19 Although the hegemony of the French novel had temporarily been challenged by the success of English and German novelists in the first three decades of the century, the Russian public continued to mostly read novels written by foreign authors and set in a foreign country.20 The most abrupt change occurred in the 1830s. It was during this decade that the Russian public began to show a new and marked interest in Russian fiction. The ratio in fiction production became completely reversed. According to our figures, while in the first three decades of the nineteenth century only 46 original Russian novels had been published in Russia, between 1830 and 1839 as many as 166 Russian novels saw publication—as opposed to 153 European novels in translation.21

  • 22   See Khitrova, “Reading and Readers of Poetry in the Golden Age,” in the present volume.
  • 23   See D. Rebecchini, “Reading Novels at the Winter Palace under Nicholas I: From the Tsar to the St (...)

7In the early decades of the nineteenth century, while the development of Russian Golden age poetry contributed to the diversification of cultured readers,22 the success of the novel seemed to have the opposite effect, creating readership homogenization and cohesion. Members of different social and cultural groups often read the same novels, while their individual choices differed greatly with regard to other types of texts that they read (poetic, historical, religious, etc.).23 Of course, the narrower the choice of novels (as it was in those early decades), the stronger the novel’s cohesive power. As time passed, the greater and more diversified the fictional choice became, the more the novel became a form of cultural distinction.

  • 24   Marker, Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of the Intellectual Life in Russia, 120, 202. In Gr (...)

8An element that contributed to the differentiation of the Russian public during this period was the affirmation of novels by known authors, as opposed to anonymous prose works. Throughout the second half of the eighteenth century, many of the lubok romances were indeed released anonymously; the public knew them exclusively by their titles.24 From the early decades of the nineteenth century, the author’s name started to become another important element for prose works, leading to a significant change in the way novels were read. The greater importance afforded to the author presupposed that readers paid greater attention to the homogeneity of the style of the work. The novel genre began to be appreciated not only just for its entertaining function (i.e. for the type of adventure it offered to its reader), but also as an aesthetic object in and of itself: the expression of a unique individual style whose artistic identity revealed itself to the reader, work after work. Reading novels represented a cultural symbol that set the new readers apart from old consumers of lubok literature. It offered them the pleasure of doing something different from other readers, a pleasure they derived from consuming a product that was considered rare and precious—in terms of its unique style and price alike.

  • 25   Cited in A. Tosi, Waiting for Pushkin. Russian Fiction in the Reign of Alexander I (1801-1825) (A (...)
  • 26   For example, in Aleksandr Smirdin’s library, in 1828, there were no fewer than 4 different rates (...)

9In this period, the novelty factor began to play an increasing role in the consumption of novels. Once a timeless form of entertainment represented by several specific lubok romances that were re-read generation after generation, in this period the novel increasingly changed in the eyes of the public into an ephemeral, fashionable object, a form of distinction employed by the trendiest readers in opposition to the growing cultural homogenization of society. In 1818, in his On the Reading of Books (O chtenii knig), Aleksandr Labzin wrote: “in aristocratic and wealthy homes, people own books to keep up with the latest fashion [...] They change their books as often as any other fashionable commodity.”25 In the case of novels, the novelty factor increasingly became a distinguishing element, one that was clearly quantified in the different subscription rates set by the circulating libraries of the time. In circulating libraries, novels were the most requested genre; the more recent the book, the more the reader had to pay.26 At the same time, the quick arrival of certain novels on markets (such as St. Petersburg’s Apraksin Dvor or Smolensk markets, Moscow’s Sukharev Tower, etc.) or local fairs not only made those works accessible to new groups of readers, but also accelerated the dynamism of fashions in fiction consumption.

  • 27   Randolph, “Communication and Obligation: The Postal System of the Russian Empire,” 178-179.
  • 28   Ibid., 155.

10In that period, changes in literary fashions became more rapid as the communication between the cultural centers and the peripheries increased: when the capitals perceived that the fame of an author or a work had reached both the geographical and the social periphery of literary consumption, the élite readership started to look for something new. In this sense, the improvements in internal communications within the Russian Empire—improvements largely due to the progress made in the Russian mail service between 1775 and 1825—greatly enhanced the evolution of literary consumption.27 During that period, the Russian postal network connected many of the more isolated administrative centers of districts, bringing to those areas texts that could previously only reach them through fairs or peddlers. At the same time, the greater frequency of mail deliveries caused the fame of certain authors and certain novels to travel more quickly. In 1854, as many as 733 towns in the Russian Empire received deliveries of packages and letters at least once a week. Most towns got mail twice a week, and as many as 63 cities received mail 6 times a week.28 All this significantly increased the consumption rate of literary works and, more generally, the evolution of fashions and the dynamism of the literary system.

  • 29   Cf. Kufaev, Istoriia russkoi knigi, 112-113; Ch. A. Ruud, Fighting Words. Imperial Censorship and (...)

11Thus, at the beginning of the century, reading foreign novels was to Russian readers not only a form of entertainment, but also a status symbol that set them apart from readers of old lubok romances. However, at a certain point, foreign novels also began to have a relevant ideological function within this system. After the great success of the Russian novel in the 1830s, the reading of foreign novels began to play an important role in the development of a stronger political consciousness among the youngest part of the Russian public. It was precisely foreign novels that, during the periods of greatest censorship in the late 1840s, allowed the most liberal ideas coming from France and England to spread more widely across Russia.29 This is particularly true for foreign-language novels imported from Europe: while Russian censorship could accurately control both the production of original Russian works and those translated into Russian, it was much more difficult for the authorities to control books that came into Russia from Europe in untranslated form.

12Given the importance of novelty for a genre like the novel, one strategy for describing the Russian public’s reading habits in the first half of the century may be to outline the different phases of success enjoyed by the most fashionable authors and fictional genres. To this end, more difficult but no less important is the analysis of how long these books were continually read within a certain reading community, when they went out of fashion, and whether they were embraced by different reading communities.

1. European Novels and European Emotions? 1800-1820

  • 30   Cf. V. D. Kuz’mina, Rytsarskii roman na Rusi (Moscow, 1964); G. Schaarschmidt, “The Lubok Novels: (...)
  • 31   On the work, cf. V. Shklovskii, Matvei Komarov: zhitel’ goroda Moskvy (Leningrad, 1929), 77-131.
  • 32   Cf. Shklovskii, Matvei Komarov, 33-76; Ju. Streidter, Der Schelmenroman in Russland: Ein Beitrag (...)
  • 33   Shklovskii, Matvei Komarov, 33-76; M. B. Pliukhanova, “Literaturnye i kul’turnye traditsii v form (...)

13At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the most familiar prose works for the Russian public were certainly lubok romances.30 Notwithstanding their differences in style and content, these works were perceived by educated readers as a homogeneous corpus of romances, given the nearly uniform formal features of their editions (cheap gray paper, rough print, crude prints used for illustrations, etc.), consistently low price, and anonymous circulation. In actuality, the texts of these romances were created in different places and times, and featured settings, types of heroes, styles, and languages that were far from similar. Some were re-elaborations of Western or Slavic medieval texts that had been circulating in Russia for centuries and were significantly contaminated by local folk motifs. Others were re-elaborations of more recent European works, adapted for the Russian public in the final decades of the eighteenth century. Their titles suggest which elements were most attractive to their readers: The Story of the Valiant Knight Frantsyl Ventsian and the Beautiful Queen Rentsyvena (Istoriia o khrabrom rytsare Frantsyle Ventsiane i o prekrasnoi korolevne Rentsyvene), The Story of the Famous and Strong Hero Eruslan Lazarevich, His Courage, and the Unimaginable Beauty of the Tsarina Anastasiia Vakhrameevna (Istoriia o slavnom i sil’nom vitiaze Eruslane Lazareviche, o ego khrabrosti, i o nevoobrazimoi krasote tsarevny Anastasii Vakhrameevny), The Tale of the Strong, Famous and Powerful Knight Il’ia Muromets and Nightingale the Robber (Skazka o sil’nom, slavnom moguchem bogatyre Il’e Muromtse i Solov’ee razboinike), The Fable of the Famous and Brave Hero Bova Korolevich and the Beautiful Queen Druzhevna (Skazka o slavnom i khrabrom vitiaze Bove Koroleviche i o prekrasnoi korolevne Druzhevne), Guak, or The Unshakable Fidelity (Guak, ili Nepreoborimaia vernost’). Their heroes were strong and fearless warriors, gallant and loyal knights, whose virtues were proven by their constant adventures and reversals of fate. Their condition as persecuted outcasts who were often subjected to vicious atrocities sometimes made these heroes close to hagiographic literature saints. Alongside these noble heroes, whose names were sometimes exotically foreign to the Russian reader, there were heroines whose main virtue seemed to be their extraordinary beauty. A sentimental tone often predominated. Many of these stories are set in a generic fairy-tale space, but there are also exceptions, like the famous History of the Adventures of the English Milord George and the Countess of Brandenburg Frederica-Louise (Povest’ o prikliuchenii angliiskogo milorda Georga i o brandeburgskoi markgrafine Friderike Luize), first published by Matvei Komarov in 1782.31 In this work, the setting and geographical references are European (London, Turin, Venice, Toledo, Amsterdam, etc.); the narration, alongside supernatural elements typical of the magic fairy tale (the magic ring), presents realistic descriptions with erotic details. The hero is modern, English, and possesses a Protestant ethic. The psychological analysis of his character here is much more elaborate than in previous chivalric lubok romances. Another exception is The story of Van’ka Kain (Istoriia Van’ki-Kaina), a narrative—in some respects is based on the Picaresque tradition—about the famous eponymous Russian thief and bandit.32 Originally published anonymously in the second half of the eighteenth century, in 1779 this narrative was transformed by Matvei Komarov into a bandit novel set partly in Moscow and assimilated to the Parisian Cartouche’s cycle, incorporating elements of the brigand literary tradition.33 Well-read intellectuals considered these works worthless. Konstantin Batiushkov, in his “Stroll Around Moscow” (“Progulka po Moskve,” 1811), said the following about the Russian booksellers who dealt in lubok romances on Kuznetskii Most Street:

  • 34   K. N. Batiushkov, Sochineniia, 2 vols, (Moscow, 1989), vol. 1, 291.

Whoever has not been in Moscow does not know that it is possible to trade in books just as in fish, furs, vegetables, and the like, without any knowledge of literature; that person does not know that here is a factory of translations, a factory of journals, a factory of novels, and that booksellers buy learned wares, that is, translations and works, by weight, repeating to the authors: not quality, but quantity! Not style, but pages! I am afraid to look into a store, for, to our shame, I think that not one nation ever had such disgraceful literature.34

  • 35   G. Schaarschmidt, “The Lubok Novels: Russia’s Immortal Best Sellers,” Canadian Review of Comparat (...)

14As Schaarschmidt observed, “the primary reason for the enormous popularity of this lubok literature [among contemporary readers], apart from its easy availability, was the fact that its content was highly entertaining, intelligible, and familiar through oral tradition.”35

  • 36   Cf. A. I. Reitblat, “Russkie ‘bestsellery’ pervoi poloviny XIX veka,” in Idem, Kak Pushkin vyshel (...)
  • 37   Shklovskii, Matvei Komarov, 129.

15These romances became a sort of common literary background for the Russian reader of the early nineteenth century. Often scorned by critics, sometimes ironically invoked by the most educated readers, they actually served as a common literary canon against which the importance of the new foreign novels conspicuously stood out. The analysis of the various editions of these works tells us that, quantitatively, these romances were by far the most widely read prose works during the entire first half of the nineteenth century. No other high-flown novelty or trendy foreign author was ever able to reach the number of reprints that these titles did. From 1800 to 1850, Guak was reprinted nine times; the The Fable of the Famous and Brave Hero Bova Korolevich and The Story of the Famous Hero Eruslan Lazarevich—eleven (along with a variant, the The Fable of Eruslan Lazarevich, which was printed seven more times); History of the Adventures of the English Milord George—20 times; and The Story of the Valiant Knight Frantsyl Ventsian had as many as 29 editions in 50 years.36 If in the early decades of the century reprints were less frequent, then during the 1830s and 1840s some of these titles, such as The Story of Frantsyl Ventsian, were reprinted almost every year. This means that if a new, fashionable, and popular European novel was reprinted at most three or four times (i.e. with a circulation comprised between 3600 and 4800 copies), then at least 22,800 copies of a title like The Story of Frantsyl Ventsian were issued on the market over the course of twenty years, not counting those released in preceding decades. It is probable that the dissemination of the lubok romances followed a social trajectory not unlike that which it had during the second half of the eighteenth century, as described by Viktor Shklovskii: “The original reader of the lubok literature […] is the nobleman, and later the officer, the civil servant, the merchant. Through house servants, townspeople (meshchane), and small business owners, this type of book reached the peasants.”37 Although contemporary popular readers probably registered the significant differences in the style of the works in this canon, the very lack of cultural prestige associated with these works makes reading testimonies regarding lubok literature from this period rare. At any rate, it was by virtue of their comparison with this repertoire of anonymous works that foreign novels by renowned authors gained their mark of distinction among more high-cultured parts of the Russian public.

  • 38   N. M. Karamzin, “On the Book Trade and Love of Reading in Russia,” in Idem, Selected Prose, trans (...)
  • 39 Ibidem., 187.
  • 40   Cf. Iu. M. Lotman, “Ob odnom chitatel’skom vospriiatii ‘Bednoi Lizy’ N.M. Karamzina (K strukture (...)
  • 41   Lotman, “Ob odnom chitatel’skom vospriiatii ‘Bednoi Lizy,’” 617.
  • 42   See Zorin, “A reading revolution?,” vol. 1.
  • 43   A subtle analysis of the emotional effect of sentimental novels on the nobleman Andrei Turgenev c (...)
  • 44   Lotman, “Ob odnom chitatel’skom vospriiatii ‘Bednoi Lizy,’” 618-620.
  • 45   Cf. D. Rebecchini, “Introduction to Yuri Lotman, ‘On One Reader’s Understanding of N.M. Karamzin’ (...)
  • 46   N. D. Kochetkova, Literatura russkogo sentimentalizma (St. Petersburg, 1994), 175.
  • 47   See Kislova, “How, why, and what the orthodox clergy read in Eighteenth-Century Russia,” vol. 1.
  • 48   See Zorin, “A reading revolution?,” vol 1

16In his essay “On the Book Trade and Love of Reading in Russia” (“O knizhnoi torgovli i liubvi ko chteniiu v Rossii”) (1802), Nikolai Karamzin provides a revealing picture of the reasons why novels were read by the new Russian readers. He wonders: “What type of book is sold most among us? I have inquired many booksellers about this and everyone, without hesitation, answered: ‘Novels!’ It is no wonder: this type of writing undoubtedly captivates a larger portion of the public.”38 Foreign sentimental novels played a significant role in widening the Russian audience in the first decades of the century. Compared to other genres commonly consumed by the more cultured public, such as historical dramas or philosophical works, this type of novel spoke in an emotional language intelligible to all, regardless of their class or level of education. Karamzin writes: “Not everyone can philosophize or take the place of the heroes of history; but everyone loves, has loved, or wants to love, and finds in the romantic hero his own self. It seems to the reader that the author speaks to him in the language of his own heart.”39 Karamzin himself had contributed greatly to simplifying the language of the Russian novel and creating that simple language of the heart. He was the author of one of the most popular and widespread Russian sentimentalist works (actually a long story, povest’, rather than a novel), Poor Liza (Bednaia Liza), which was published in 1792 and republished in 1796 in a single edition. The spread of that work among the Russian society of the time was so wide that, only seven years after its publication, Poor Liza was read in monasteries, among artisans, and even by peasants.40 A letter by a writer of the time, Aleksei Merzliakov, who transcribed a conversation on Poor Liza that took place in 1799 near Moscow by the Simonov monastery between an artisan and a peasant, testifies to this. Merzliakov concluded his letter by saying: “What could be sweeter for Mr. Karamzin? […] Peasants, artisans, monks, soldiers, they all know him, everyone loves him!”41 Andrei Zorin maintains that the shared reading of the same European novels “guaranteed the spread of unified emotional patterns across social and national borders”.42 Although such patterns might exist broadly across the Russian reading public as a whole, one can wonder if they were uniform across different social groups. Noble readers might understand the text’s emotional effects differently than novice readers, who would filter those effects through their own particular aesthetic sensibilities and interpretive canons.43 The fact that sentimental novels circulated among the clergy as well as among artisans (“a monk gave us this book to read,” the abovementioned artisan stated to the peasant in Merzliakov’s report) certainly testifies to those readers being aware of a shared aesthetic code. Yet among readers belonging to different social circles, the interaction of those sentimental works with different literary canons and religious beliefs may have produced different emotional effects. As noted by Iurii Lotman, Poor Liza was actually received by those popular readers based on canons that were very different from those assumed by the author and by most of the noble readers.44 The story was interpreted by the popular readers according to literary and aesthetic canons that were the most familiar to them, that is, according to the models of the lubok romances and according to a number of popular and religious beliefs that characterized their world—often yielding the most original and unexpected interpretive outcomes. For example, the practical-minded artisan, in retelling the story of the Poor Liza to the peasant, especially captured the details of the economic relations affecting the liaisons between the two sentimental protagonists of the love story, paying special attention to the exact sums of money exchanged by the characters in the story.45 While for certain popular readers of sentimental novels these texts echoed longstanding popular and folkloric beliefs as well as canons of lubok romances, for the members of the clergy the same readings could rest comfortably alongside their evangelical readings and notions that they drew from Orthodox Christianity. Here, for example, is how the archpriest of Kolomna, Vasilii Mikhailovich Protopopov (1760-1810), describes his love for the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “I love Jean-Jacques not as an antagonist of religion, but as one who has been able to touch the soul and converse with the heart of a sensitive reader (...) Send me, if you can, the Héloïse by the first post. It will be like an Easter egg for me.”46 The fact that an archpriest could put a novel by Rousseau and a religious symbol on the same level testifies not only to a certain degree of secularization of the Russian clergy,47 but also confirms the existence of a certain connection between the experience of reading novels and religious experience.48

17It is worth noting that the ever-practical Karamzin, in his essay “On the Book Trade and Love of Reading in Russia,” made vital distinctions between the Russian readers of sentimental novels of the period. He did not speak of social differences, but rather of variances in the audience’s education. He believed that too great a difference between the complexity of the text and the reader’s cultural knowledge would have prevented the text from having the right emotional effect:

  • 49   Karamzin, “On the Book Trade and Love of Reading in Russia,” 187-188.

He who is captivated by a novel like Nikanor, the Ill-Fated Nobleman (Zloschastnyi Nikanor), stands somewhat beneath the author on the ladder of intellectual development, and does well in reading this novel because, without any doubt, he learns something of ideas and their expression. As soon as there is a great distance between the author and the reader, then the former cannot greatly influence the latter, however intelligent he might be. They must be a little closer to each other: one, to Jean-Jacques; the other, to Nikanor. […] And he who begins with The Ill-Fated Nobleman often reaches as far as Grandison.49

  • 50   On Neschastnyi Nikanor, cf. T. E. Avtukhovich, “Prikliucheniia avtora i ego knigi, ili zhizn’ i s (...)
  • 51   Karamzin, “On the Book Trade and Love of Reading in Russia,” 188.
  • 52   The main character of the novel by Jean-Pierre Florian, Gonzalve de Cordue (Paris, 1791), Russ. T (...)
  • 53   The main character of the novel by Madame de Genlis, Les Chevaliers du Cygne ou la cour de Charle (...)
  • 54   The main character of the novel by August Lafontaine, Fedor und Marie oder Treue bis zum Tode (Be (...)
  • 55   V. Tomilin, “O romanakh”, Blagonamerennyi, 22, 7(1823), 15-16.
  • 56   Karamzin, “On the Book Trade and the Love of Reading,” 190.

18This passage describes quite well the different degrees of complexity and cultural prestige that different types of sentimental novels of the time had in the eyes of the founder of Russian Sentimentalism: the lowest level was represented by reading one of the most tearful romances in the Russian lubok literature, The Unfortunate Nikanor; Or the Adventures in the Life of a Russian Nobleman N. (Neschastnyi Nikanor, ili prikliucheniia zhizni rossiiskogo dvorianina N.)—which had been circulating since the mid-1770s.50 The sentimental novels by Kotzebue represented an intermediate level, the reading of a ‘fashionable’ sentimental novel, the great success of the moment among an audience attracted above all by “foreign tears,” even if its author was considered well below some established ‘classic’ authors of European sentimental novels such as The History of Sir Charles Grandison by Samuel Richardson (1754, translated into Russian from French in 1793-1794) or Julie, or the New Heloise by Jean Jacques Rousseau (La nouvelle Héloïse, 1761; translated into Russian partially in 1769-1792 and entirely in 1804). However, in Karamzin’s eyes, reading novels still was, for all types of readers, a good cultural investment: “I do not know what others think, but for me the important thing is that people read! Even the most mediocre novels, even those written without any talent, somehow promote culture.”51 Karamzin took a broad view of culture, not only as intellectual, but also as emotional and sentimental education. And his was evidently a conviction shared by numerous other contemporaries: “The easiest and at the same time the most pleasant way in which a young man can get himself an education today (obrazovat’ sebja) is by reading novels. If he wants to be a loyal friend, he can learn to be one from Lara52 and from Olivier53; if his heart beats with passionate love, he should nurture it as Prince D. does for his Maria54; if destiny has decided that he should fight against prejudice, then he should imitate the meek Gustavo,” wrote an admirer of the latest Europen novels.55 Karamzin thus concluded in his article: “There is no doubt that the novels make both the heart and the imagination…fancifully romantic (romanicheskimi)! […] A romantic heart (romanicheskoe serdtse) causes itself more grief than others; but, then, it loves this grief and will not give it up for the very pleasures of the egoists. In a word, it is good that our public also reads novels!”56

19In the early years of the nineteenth century, the most successful sentimental novelist of the moment was, according to Karamzin, the German August Friedrich Ferdinand von Kotzebue, who lived in Russia for a long time:

  • 57   Ibid. On Kotzebue in Russia, see P. Drews, Die Rezeption deutscher Belletristik in Russland, 1750 (...)

Now Kotzebue is terribly fashionable—and as the Parisian booksellers at one time demanded the Persian Letters from every writer, so now do our booksellers demand from translators and the authors themselves Kotzebue, only Kotzebue!! A novel, a tale, good or bad—it is all the same, if on the title page there is the name of the famous Kotzebue!57

  • 58   Cf. Marker, Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of the Intellectual Life in Russia, 119-120, 20 (...)
  • 59   Cf. Levin (ed.), Istoriia russkoi perevodnoi, 217-220.
  • 60   Ibid., 217-218.
  • 61   Ibid., 222-223. At the same time, it must be noted how, as late as the first half of the nineteen (...)

20Karamzin captures here a new feature of Russia’s early nineteenth-century reading public: the fame of the author had become an increasingly relevant factor in appreciation of the work.58 Even in the last decades of the eighteenth century, not only the romances of lubok literature, but also some translations of European novels were published anonymously.59 Sometimes those who published novels were not even aware of the importance of clearly distinguishing, on the title page, the original work from the translation, and there were books in which translated and original excerpts were freely mixed.60 Given the intensive adaptation work carried out by many publishers and translators on their texts, readers could not always tell the difference between a foreign and a Russian work. In the first decades of the nineteenth century, however, knowledge of the author increasingly started to influence readers’ purchasing choices, so publishers often emphasized the authors’ names on the title page of the volume.61 The appearance of authors’ portraits in some novels is a clear sign of such novelists’ new status.

  • 62   As regards England, Franco Moretti has calculated that every thirty years or so (that is, in the (...)

21Frequent changes in popular tastes played a significant role in the Russian public’s appreciation for the novel genre. While in England and France various fictional genres quite regularly went in and out of fashion one after another over long periods of time, in Russia this process was typically concentrated in a far shorter period.62 Between the 1790s and the 1820s, Russia saw a remarkable number of fictional genres come into fashion: the sentimental novel, the Gothic novel, the bandit novel, the historical-moralistic novel, then the picaresque novel, and finally the historical novel à la Walter Scott. Such a rapid succession of fashions caused, on the one hand, some confusion and overlaps in the perception of contemporary readers (confusion that became even more pronounced in those readers’ subsequent memoirs); on the other hand, the frequent turnover in popular tastes may have rendered increasingly superficial the audience’s emotional investment in these continually emerging novelistic genres.

  • 63   See f.i. “O razlichii mnenii otnositel’no romanov, ili Belyj perepel”, Damskij zhurnal, 4 (1823), (...)
  • 64   See f.i. V. Tomilin, “O romanakh”, Blagonamerennyi, 22, 7(1823), 4-18.
  • 65   Tomilin, “O romanakh”, 8.
  • 66   Ibid., 18.

22Among the most conservative readers and critics, these fictional genres raised new fears. Their criticism of novel-reading can basically be split into two categories: on the one hand there were those who insisted in particular on the dangerous psychological effects of novels, capable of encouraging younger readers to slavishly imitate their heroes and to adopting misguided ideas about love and life;63 on the other hand, there were those who criticised novel-reading as a waste of time that distracted from more useful occupations, such as practising the sciences or the arts.64 Some saw European novels as dangerous competitors of reading Russian poetry, also because, for many, those novels were more readily accessible than “the finest odes by Lomonosov and Derzhavin, than the most grandiose monologues by Ozerov, than Dmitriev’s and Krylov’s funniest fables;”65 for others reading novels distracted young people from more pious and religious readings: “Why imitate the heroes of novels, when we have the heroes of History? Why learn humility (krotost’) from Lafontaine, when this virtue has been taught to us by Christ the Saviour? …Have you ever read him?... But it’s pointless asking you that: I can see from your eyes that you have never even leafed through the Bible” a contemprary wrote.66

  • 67   See Bowers, “The Gothic Novel Reader comes to Russia,” in the present volume.
  • 68   See V. E. Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman v Rossii (Moscow, 2002), 116-117.

23In Russia, during the first decade of the century, the twenty-year success of the sentimental novel was challenged by the coming into fashion of the Gothic novel67. Between 1799 and 1804, one after the other, the main titles of the English Gothic romance canon were translated into Russian.68 If for Russian readers the great European sentimental novelists (in addition to the popular Ducray-Duminil and Kotzebue) were writers like Richardson, Rousseau, and Goethe, for the Gothic novel in Russia Ann Radcliffe’s unchallenged authority established itself immediately and virtually without competition. While European sentimental novels quickly generated the first Russian imitations—among which Karamzin’s were certainly the most appreciated by the public—Russian imitations of Gothic novels were rarer and came later. In 1806, perhaps Radcliffe’s most successful year in Russia, a critic observed:

  • 69   Cited in V. E. Vatsuro, “‘Polnochnyi Kolokol’ (Iz istorii massovogo chteniia v Rossii v pervoi tr (...)

It seems that there are still no similar works in Russian; but we have a lot of translations: The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Midnight Bell, The Monk, The Italian, The Tomb, The Forest, Albert’s Castle, The Living Dead and other works by Mrs. Radcliffe have enriched our literature. I say ‘enriched’ because if we had not had them we would have had to read works such as Bova Korolevich or Eruslan Lazarevich, or Polkan the Knight... All our gratitude to the respectable English writer.69

  • 70   L. N. Tolstoi, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 90 vols (Moscow, 1949), vol. 13, 75. On Petersburg’s h (...)

24Notice how, in addition to seeing the English Gothic novel as a replacement of the old and worn-out chivalric lubok romances, the critic attributed to Radcliffe a series of works that were not hers, but for obvious commercial reasons were ascribed to her by Russian publishers and translators: from Ambrosio, or The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis, to The Midnight Bell by Francis Lethom, up to the anonymous The Tomb (Grobnitsa), translated into Russian from the French in 1802. If, for the less educated or less well-off reader, Radcliffe’s novels in Russian translation were the novelty that allowed him to leave behind chivalric romances he had read time and time again, for the richer reader her novels in French translation represented an alternative to the great names of French or Russian classicism. In War and peace (Voina i mir), Tolstoy observes that, before 1812, Petersburg’s high society ladies of the 1800s knew by heart “Racine, Boileau and Corneille’s monologues” but “were thrilled by Radcliffe and Madame Souza’s novels.”70 In 1811, the patriot Sergei Glinka, describing Moscow’s readership, wrote with regret:

  • 71   Cited in Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 113.

Immense libraries are full of foreign novels and there is not even a corner for Russian books! Due to some unfortunate prejudice and sense of imitation, today even those who do not know foreign languages read more willingly Radcliffe’s and Genlis’s novels than the works by Lomonosov, Sumarokov, and Bogdanovich and our other national authors.71

  • 72   Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 114.
  • 73   On this, see Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 301-311.

25In the most culturally sophisticated contexts, Radcliffe’s novels quickly went out of fashion. In Vadim Vatsuro’s opinion, “in the 1810s, Radcliffe’s name already had a precise meaning: loving her works was a sign of low cultural and even social status.”72 To this opinion greatly contributed numerous minor works from the European Gothic tradition that were arbitrarily attributed to Radcliffe by Russian translators and booksellers (the so-called pseudo-Radcliffiana) that made it difficult for the Russian public to distinguish between the different strands and authors of the Gothic genre.73 What made Radcliffe’s fame durable among readers less obsessed with novelty was her works’ ability to stir stronger emotions compared to, for example, many moralistic novels from the 1810s. Thus, for example, P. I. Shalikov, a follower of Karamzin’s, wrote in his memoirs:

  • 74   Cited in Vatsuro, “Polnochnyi Kolokol,” 17.

When I was little, I loved old novels and even now I prefer them to those by Ducray-Duminil; I have to admit, maybe to my shame, that the abbeys, castles, towers, halls, ghosts, caves, cemeteries of the English author Radcliffe generate pleasure in me, because they scare me, and this kind of fear contains something pleasant, while many other novels contain nothing.74

  • 75   See Bowers, “The Gothic Novel Reader Comes to Russia,” in the present volume
  • 76   See f.i. M. A. Dmitriev, Melochi iz zapasa moei pamiati (Moscow, 1869), 48; E. A. Khvostova, Zapi (...)

26The English Gothic novel stimulated in readers a variety of emotional reactions distinct from those caused by the sentimental novel: suspense, horror, anxiety, dread, and disgust were added to pity and “delicious tears”75. “Pleasant fear” was one of the reactions most often quoted by the Russian Gothic novel reader, by now accustomed to the valiant deeds of the heroes of lubok romances and the tearful misfortunes of characters featured in European sentimental novels.76

  • 77   See M. P. Morozova, “Biblioteka dvorian Bashmakovykh-Vereshchaginykh (XVIII–nachalo XIX v),” in X (...)
  • 78   A. V. Selivanov, Materialy dlia istorii roda riazanskikh Selivanovykh (Riazan, 1915), III, 27, 32 (...)
  • 79   Cf. Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 129. The same datum also emerges from the subscription lists appe (...)

27The situation in the provinces did not seem very different; here too, preference was mostly accorded to foreign novelists. Yet, even in the provinces, those who read Radcliffe’s novels in French and those who read them in Russian represented two different audiences, even though they all belonged to the nobility. For example, in the library of Petr Alekseevich Bashmakov, a landowner from the Novgorod province, we can find not only Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, but also Lewis’s The Monk, and Gothic novels by W. Godwin, G. Moore, C. B. Naubert, K.H. Spiess, Ch. Smith and others, all in French translation.77 In the same period, Nikolai Selivanov, a Ryazan’ landowner, scrupulously recorded all the works that he wanted to buy in the year 1808: nine Gothic novels in Russian translation, of which five were attributed to Radcliffe.78 On the other hand, the list of subscriptions to the first Russian translation of Radcliffe’s novel The Romance of the Forest, which was also her first novel published in Russian between 1801-1802, proves that even Moscow’s high aristocracy, like the members of the Golitsyn and Golovkin families, could read not only French translations, but were also interested in Russian translations.79

  • 80   Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 71-74, 127.
  • 81   Ibid., 74.

28Translation was an unavoidable factor in the Russian reception of these works. Monolingual readers who could not access a text’s original language (French, German, English etc.) experienced its emotional effects quite differently from those reading the work in their native tongue. What did the Russian readers of these translations actually read? As shown by Vadim Vatsuro, Russian translations of Gothic novels were often bizarre conglomerates of linguistic elements and extremely heterogeneous stylistic registers.80 These novels in translation were often not only presented to Russian readers with a title or author that was different from the original, but frequently contained whole summarized parts, dialogues transformed into third-person narration, and truncated chapters. They were works created by multiple translators who often had had very different kinds of training, and consequently mingled the most diverse languages and stylistic registers: bureaucratic-administrative language with rhetorical-classicist language or, in the best cases, Karamzinian style. “Heterogeneous stylistic layers,” writes Vatsuro, “with different orientations, and even genetically non-synchronous ones, coexist within the same translation, forming not a uniform style, but rather a sort of literary chemical suspension” that “reflects different stages of Russian literary development.”81 Not infrequently, the original stylistic features of the new novels were obscured by translators who were linked to very different cultural traditions.

  • 82   See Drews, Die Rezeption deutscher Belletristik in Russland, 34, 36, 38, 314, 321-323.
  • 83   Cf. Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 328.
  • 84   Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 332. The Russian translation indeed came from a French translation, i (...)
  • 85   Cf. N. S. Sokhanskaia, “Avtobiografiia,” Russkoe obozrenie, 8 (1896), 466; J. Brooks, When Russia (...)

29The memoirs of readers from the first decades of the century associate the Gothic novel with another subgenre, this time one of German origin: the bandit novel (or Räuberroman), which was inspired primarily by Schiller’s Robbers.82 As in the case of Gothic novels, the factor of translation played no small part in these works’ Russian reception. The most successful work among the Russian public of the 1810s was not, in fact, the book by the famous Swiss Johann Heinrich Zschokke that started the bandit novel trend in Europe, i.e. Aballino, the Great Bandit (Abällino, der große Bandit, 1793); rather, it was the hugely popular Rinaldo Rinaldini, Captain of the Bandits (Rinaldo Rinaldini, der Räuberhauptmann, 1798) by Christian August Vulpius, published in 1798 and immediately translated into Russian in 1802-1803 with the title Rinal’do Rinal’dini, razboinichii roman. Thanks to this novel, and not Zschokke’s, the Russian public became acquainted with a new kind of romantic hero, the figure of the “noble bandit” in constant conflict with society. If—at least for the less well-off part of the Russian public—this figure was associated with bandits like Van’ka Kain, the hero of the eponymous lubok romance, the more educated readers were reminded instead of the high model of Karl Moor in Schiller’s Robbers.83 Upon the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars, Vulpius attempted to create a less subversive and more patriotic bandit figure (and thereby reconcile the archetype with the values of his homeland) in his novel The Glorious (Glorioso der Grosse Teufel, 1800). However, this, translated into Russian in 1806, did not influence the Russian public very much. It was above all Rinaldo Rinaldini that had a strong influence on Russian readers and generated immediate and numerous imitations, mostly translations from the French or the German, such as The Robbers Beneath the Castle of Kutan (Razboiniki v podzemel’e Kutanskogo zamka, 1802), The Robbers of the Black Forest (Razboiniki Chernogo lesa, 1803) and Rinaldo di Sargino (Rinaldo di Sargino oder die Geheimnisse der unterirdischen Burg, 1805; Russian edit. Rinal’do de Sargino, ili Tainstva podzemel’ia zamka Saragossy, 1809). As can be inferred from such titles, elements of the bandit novel often resembled those of the Gothic novel; such elements included castles, nocturnal forests, Italian names, etc. At the same time, translations created quite a lot of confusion for readers about these works. For example, the first Russian translation of Zschokke’s Aballino was said to be “the work of Mr Lewis, the author of The Monk.”84 The success of the bandit novel, at least among the provincial gentry, seemed to decline in the early 1840s, while the majority of popular readers continued to enjoy it consistently until the end of the nineteenth century.85

  • 86   Cit. in Vatsuro, “Polnochnyi Kolokol,” 24.
  • 87   Pushkin also defines Cottin’s novels “family novels,” although today they are mostly classified b (...)
  • 88   Cf. M. Lyons, Le triomphe du livre. Une histoire sociologique de la lecture dans la France du XIX (...)
  • 89   The success of Madame Cottin’s Mathilde in 1812 is also testified by Mikhail Zagoskin in his nove (...)
  • 90   Cf. Reitblat, “Russkie ‘bestsellery,’” 200; Hoogenboom, “Sentimental Novels and Pushkin,” 562-563
  • 91   Cf. Lyons, Le triomphe du livre, 85-87; Hoogenboom, “Sentimental Novels and Pushkin,” 562-563.
  • 92   See A. Tosi, Waiting for Pushkin. Russian Fiction in the Reign of Alexander I (1801-1825) (Amster (...)

30In the mid 1810s, the fortunes of the Gothic novel among the most sophisticated members of the reading public seemed to be declining, and a new novelistic genre started to meet with its approval: the moralistic family novel. A critic recalled in 1815, “Horror and supernatural novels have now given way to family novels... No doubt the latter now interest us more than the horrors and ghosts in castles and basements, the black spirits and the night bells.”86 Here, a political factor might have influenced how different types of novels went in and out of fashion. The horrors of the Napoleonic wars perhaps attenuated the Russian public’s desire to spend time amidst the horrors of Radcliffe’s castles and Gothic basements. During Napoleon’s campaigns, to enjoy stories of heroes who walked—and often overstepped—the blurred boundaries of morality and religion did not seem acceptable to many readers. Instead, those troubled years had awakened a desire among Russian readers for much more reassuring and moralistic family happiness from the ancien régime, like that promised by Madame de Genlis’s or Auguste Lafontaine’s novels, or examples of heroic virtue that remained intact despite the ordeals of history and the dangers of nature, such as those provided by Madame Cottin.87 As Martyn Lyons showed, these novels, just like Ducray-Duminil’s, did not offer new models of bourgeois life but rather open nostalgia, an idealization of aristocratic life—a recurrent ideological feature in post-revolutionary French best-sellers.88 And these monarchic and conservative ideals could not but be appreciated by a decidedly traditionalist public such as the Russian one. During the Napoleonic wars, these readers had particularly enjoyed novels like Cottin’s Matilda and Malek Adel the Saracen: A Crusade Romance (Mathilde ou Memoires tirés de l’histoire des croisades, 1805), a moralistic rather than historical novel, in which the heroine’s ideal of Christian purity clashes with the noble and passionate character of the sultan’s brother Malek-Adel;89 and especially Elisabeth; or, The exiles of Siberia (Élisabeth ou de les Exilés de Sibérie, 1806), a heroic model of self-sacrifice and filial love, which was probably Cottin’s most popular novel in Russia, given that its translation was reprinted as many as four times between 1807 and 1824.90 Yet while in France Cottin’s novels reached their peak in popularity between 1816 and 1820 and became less successful thereafter, in Russia they were republished in translation throughout the 1820s, and enjoyed great success until at least the 1840s.91 A large number of Russian imitations drew from these fictional models to create works in which the Napoleonic wars were evoked above all as an opportunity to show the sentimental and patriotic effusions between two lovers separated by the conflict.92

31Russian critics of the early nineteenth century often had a classicist orientation, one that greatly differed from their readers vis-à-vis their attitude toward novels. The distance between the evaluations of critics and the tastes of the public is vividly exhibited in reviews of successful novels of the time. In 1817 a critic reviewed sentimental novels by three authors much en vogue at the time (August Lafontaine, Ducray-Duminil and Madame Montolieu), and judged their works to be no less boring or soporific than many Gothic or bandit novels:

  • 93   Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 338.

I have not read any of these three novels, but then I do not understand how anyone can read, without any reward, some thick novels that were commissioned in exchange for a small sum, as were many stories about castles, ruins, devils or bandits. Perhaps to overcome insomnia? But for this purpose it is much better to read verses than prose [...] Especially since novels are quite expensive, while verses may be found at any time and at no cost.93

  • 94   Ibid.

32It is interesting to notice which novels the critic considers models and compares to those by Ducray-Duminil and Lafontaine: “The novels that have done credit to their authors and that every reader can read with pleasure and to his advantage are still few: Don Quixote, Gil Blas, The New Heloise, Grandisson, Tom Jones, The Vicar of Wakesfield, Tristram Shandy and... And I would say that’s it.”94 This was, in the critic’s view, the ‘classic’ and consolidated canon of the European novel; the rest were fashionable novelties, their fame destined to last only a few seasons. Rather than explaining contemporary novels and guiding their readers, many Russian critics of the time often seemed to encourage educated readers to stay away from them. And this was due not only to differences about the aesthetic or moral values represented in those works, but also to their opposition in principle to the marketing processes of literary production and the democratization of reading. By establishing a privileged relationship with an increasingly anonymous audience, the authors of European best-sellers, it seems, were able to do without the mediation of criticism.

33The same contemptuous attitude towards French best-sellers emerges, for example, in the opinions of the numerous Russian poets and men of letters of the time. That, for example, is how the poet Batiushkov comments on the offering of foreign book sellers in his “Stroll Around Moscow” in 1811:

  • 95   Batiushkov, Sochineniia, vol. 1, 291.

We see in front of us the shops of foreign booksellers. There are many, but none is really well stocked in comparison with those in St. Petersburg. Books are expensive, the good ones are few, the ancient writers are hardly there at all, but, on the other hand, they have Madame de Genlis and Madame de Sévigné—two catechisms for young girls—and entire piles of French novels, readings worthy of the most obtusely ignorant, stupid and debauched ones.95

  • 96   Hoogenboom, “Sentimental Novels and Pushkin,” 554, 564-567.

34Similarly, sophisticated authors like Pushkin intentionally discredited the fame of these commercially successful authors such as Kotzebue, Lafontaine, Ducray-Duminil, Genlis, and Cottin, preferring to mention loftier models, such as the novels by Richardson, De Staël, or Rousseau, in their own works.96

35Meanwhile, at the beginning of the 1820s, Charles-Victor D’Arlincourt’s historical novels had begun to supplant those by Madame de Genlis and Madame Cottin in the tastes of the most sophisticated public. Apollon Grigor’ev recalled

  • 97   A. Grigor’ev, Vospominaniia (Moscow, 1988), 80.

In this period, the readership was ‘delirious,’ literally delirious, for a novelist now all but forgotten, and rightly so, like the mediocre novelist Viscount of Arlincourt. His mysterious loner and melodramatic, gloomy and renegade Agobar, his foreign beloved who was cursed in the imagination of Russian male and female readers, replaced the virtuous Malek-Adhels and the sensitive Mathildes.97

  • 98   Ibid., 80-81.
  • 99   Grigor’ev, Vospominaniia, 81. On the reception of Byron in Russia, see (among others) f.i. N. Dia (...)
  • 100   Grigor’ev, Vospominaniia, 81.

36In 1862, when Grigor’ev wrote his memoirs, the political climate had completely changed and the critic’s sensitivity toward the ideological value of novels was much higher than that of the readers of the 1820s. So he wrote about Arlincourt’s old novels: “Their author was one of the most obtuse reactionaries and restoration supporters imaginable, and in all his successful novels (Le Solitaire, L’Étrangère, Le Renégat) he conveys one feeling only: his love for dispossessed and exiled dynasties.”98 Grigor’ev cleverly perceives the ideological naivety that characterized the Russian public in the early decades of the century: having just emerged from the patriotic victories against Napoleon, Russian readers seemed fascinated by Arlincourt’s romantic and manneristic legitimism. At the same time, the critic noticed another aspect that made Arlincourt’s novels attractive to the Russian public: their ability to speak a romantic language in a much more accessible way than Byron and his Russian imitators: “All these Solitaries, Agobars, Foreigners served to replace the remains of Byronism, but these were nonetheless more approachable by the mass of Russian readers than Byronism itself.”99. Especially in the second half of the 1820s, when their first Russian translations started to appear, Arlincourt’s shallow novels served to satisfy that part of the Russian readership for whom Byron’s poems were something hardly “digestible” or understandable, something “in front of which the mass of readers bowed mostly based on hearsay, and from a distance, as if before a darkly mysterious deity.”100 Thus, it was the success of Arlincourt’s historical novels during the 1820s that opened the door to Russia’s passion for Walter Scott’s romantic novels.

  • 101   Cf. M. Beaven Remnek, “‘A Larger Portion of the Public.’ Female Readers, Fiction, and the Periodi (...)
  • 102   I. I. Dmitriev, K portretu M. N. Murav’eva (1803), in I. I. Dmitriev, Polnoe sobranie stikhotvore (...)
  • 103   Karamzin, “On the Book Trade and Love of Reading in Russia,” 187.
  • 104   Cfr. Beaven Remnek, “‘A Larger Portion of the Public,’” 35-36. See also O. E. Glagoleva, “Imagina (...)
  • 105   See Bowers, “The Gothic Novel Reader comes to Russia,” in the present volume. See f.i. P. I. Maka (...)
  • 106   Cited in Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 328.

37Some fictional genres seemed more capable of dividing Russian novel readers along gendered lines rather than social ones. Judging by the memories of the period, for example, family novels, such as those by Cottin and Genlis, seem to have more often attracted female readers, as the women’s journal Damskii zhurnal (Journal for ladies) confirms.101 During the first decades of the century, women’s education often laid in the hands of mothers, and they decided which books were suitable to be read by their daughters, as confirmed by Ivan Dmitriev’s famous saying “the mother will tell her daughter to read his works.”102 Yet it is legitimate to wonder to what extent women in the countryside or in the provinces could freely choose and buy their novels. According to Karamzin, in 1802 “the rural noblewomen at the St. Macarius Fair lay in not only a supply of bonnets, but also of books.”103 Nevertheless, Miranda Beaven Remnek has pointed out that “access to reading materials for women was restricted […] girls and unmarried women are often shown obtaining reading materials through men—either by using personal libraries or by borrowing purchased materials.”104 While Gothic novels were often considered dangerous for the younger girls, sentimental and family novels do not appear to have been vetoed too often by their parents or tutors.105 Bandit novels, on the other hand, would appear to be more male-oriented, per evidence found in memoirs. Sometimes reading them could lead to acts of disobedience, as happened with the poet Evgenii Boratynskii, while he served in the Page Corps in 1816. As he himself confessed in 1823: “Those of us who had money took books to read from Stupin’s putrid shop, which was located next to the barracks, and what books! The Glorious, Rinaldo Rinaldini, brigands in every possible forest or underground! And I, to my misfortune, I was one of the most diligent readers.”106

  • 107   Ibid., 346.

38As early as the 1830s and 1840s, these fictional genres and their characters already tended to mix and mingle in the readers’ memory, as if they were a single corpus of novels. In 1846, the journalist Faddei Bulgarin wrote in his memoirs about his visit to Kronstadt prison: “Having devoured the novels by Mrs. Radcliffe, Ducray-Duminil, and the like, I was hoping to see everywhere, with my own eyes, robbers, thinking I could find among them Roger (from Ducray-Duminil’s novel Victor, a Child of the Forest), Rinaldo Rinaldini (from the novel of the same name) and even Karl Moor (from Schiller’s Robbers).”107 The complexities of the emotive reactions aroused in readers while they were reading these works tends to be minimized in those same readers’ later memoirs. Aleksandr Nikiten’ko (1804-1877), an educated Ukrainian serf of count Sheremetev, so recalls the effect that reading August Lafontaine’s and Ann Radcliffe’s novels had on him in the 1810s:

  • 108   A. V. Nikitenko, Moia povest’ o samom sebe i o tom, ‘chemu svidetel’ v zhizni byl’: Zapiski i dne (...)

How I trembled as I penetrated into dark dungeons following Ann Radcliffe, and how inebriated I became with mushy August Lafontaine! But I gained little from this course of reading: the novels of the former caused me, for a long while afterwards, to be afraid to stay alone in a dark room, and those of the latter made me, every time I met a woman, rush to elevate her into a pearl of creation and fall in love with her.108

39More than emotions, memoirs often record the concrete effects of the novel on the reader’s behavior. The critic Vissarion Belinskii (1811-1848), the son of a simple navy doctor, was likewise a childhood reader of bandit novels and Radcliffe’s books. In 1847, he recalled the effects of those novels on his companions from those earlier days:

  • 109   Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 347.

They threw themselves on these horror novels with enthusiasm and, once they were finished, saw the world not as it really was, but full of scary things, ghosts, bandits; they were not only afraid to walk the streets at night, but in the evening too they would not stay alone in their room, or travel from town to town.109

  • 110   Cf. Arkhiv Gosudarstvennogo Ermitazha (AGE), fond 1, opis’ 1, 1839, ed. 39 “Kniga dlia zapisyvani (...)

40Starting from the 1830s, many of those novels ended up in the hands of the servants of the great aristocratic families. A loan register from the servants’ library of the Winter Palace shows us, for example, how novels such as Theodor and Susanna by Lafontaine and The Wife of the Bandit by Vulpius were often requested by the servants at court in the second half of the 1830s.110 At the same time, those very novels, together with the lubok romances, ended up in the pockets of street vendors and in the hands of readers living further away from the big cultural centers. In an empire like the Russian one, geographical factors sometimes seemed far more relevant than social factors in determining the tastes of the public. Thus, for example, Orest Somov describes, in his 1833 story Mother and Son (Matiushka i synok), the scene of the arrival of one of these street vendors to the estate in a remote province:

  • 111   Cited in Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 342.

The landowner orders to fetch the register in which an unsteady hand had written down, with many mistakes, the books’ titles [...] Then he lets the street vendor into the hall and this bearded seller of paper intelligence brings in half a dozen bags full of books and other things. The owner chooses the Tale of Two Turks, the Adventures of Marquis G., Sovestdral, Van’ka Kain, The Midnight Bell, The Cave of Death, Kotzebue’s novels and short stories, etc., etc.; to this, he sometimes adds the Instructions for Beekeeping, a book on equine medicine.111

  • 112   Cited in Beaven Remnek, The Expansion of Russian Reading Audiences, 330.

41The scene well describes, on the one hand, the literary dynamics of many novels (like those by Prevost, Kotzebue, or Radcliffe) which had previously sold at a high price and now ending up in the pockets of street vendors who sold them cheaply to landowners in remote regions. On the other hand, it also demonstrates the chaotic and confusing nature of Russian novel consumption in the remote areas of the empire, that “unimaginable mixture” of books read without any order or guidance, which Ivan Goncharov (1812-1891) mentioned when writing about his youthful readings in Simbirsk, in a family of merchants, and which, among the majority of the Russian public, was the rule rather than the exception.112

2. From Emotional Investment to Detached Admiration: The Success of Walter Scott in Russia, 1820s

  • 113   Cf. S. Gessen, Knigoizdatel’ Aleksandr Pushkin (Leningrd, 1930), 34-62.
  • 114   Cf. Iu. D. Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” in Epokha romantizma. Iz istor (...)
  • 115   Cf. M. Lyons, “Walter Scott et les lecteurs du romantisme français,” in Idem, Le triomphe du livr (...)
  • 116   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 8.
  • 117   S. B. Davis, “From Scotland to Russia via France. Scott, Defauconpret and Gogol,” Scottish Slavon (...)
  • 118   Cit. in Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 14.

42In the eyes of the Russian public, the 1820s were marked by a number of different literary phenomena. In the field of poetry, this period saw the great popularity of the arch-Romantic Byronic poem; Pushkin’s early fortune should be seen within this context.113 As regards foreign novels, Russian audiences of those years saw the great success of Walter Scott’s historical novels. In the 1810s, a mere decade earlier, Walter Scott as a poet and (especially) novelist was known to very few people in Russia.114 He became increasingly popular in France starting from the year 1816, reaching the peak of his success there between 1822 and 1827.115 That success contributed to his reception by the Russian public from the early 1820s onward. It was mainly from the mid 1820s on, though, that his fame in Russia as an author of historical novels significantly increased.116 And while Byron and Pushkin, with their provocative Romanticism, tended to divide the Russian audience between passionate supporters and tough opponents of the new literary movement, Walter Scott, with his moderate and conservative Romanticism, found a cohesive audience that was united in praise of his works—works which appealed to Russian readers of heterogeneous aesthetic and political orientations. In the case of Walter Scott’s readers, these could be mostly divided into those who could read his novels in French, in Defauconpret’s translations, and the rest of the public who could approach him through the not-always-flawless Russian translations done from the French starting from the mid 1820s.117 As already pointed out, however, the distinction between readers of the French translations and those of the Russian ones should not be considered too rigid. Even in Walter Scott’s case, there were readers reporting that they read both. Ivan I. Panaev (1812-1862), for example, wrote that, in the 1830s, he was an avid reader of Scott’s novels: “I read them all in both French and Russian translation.”118

  • 119   Cf. “Imperatritsa Aleksandra Fedorovna v svoikh vospominaniiakh,” Russkaia Starina, vol. 88, 10 ( (...)
  • 120   Cf. A. O. Smirnova, Zapiski (St. Petersburg, 1895), vol. 1, 168.
  • 121   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 11.

43Readers of Walter Scott’s novels were still divided between those who read the translations as soon as they were out in keeping with fashionable novelty, those who had access to his novels only later on and read them as one reads a well-established classic, and those who approached them as young adult literature. Among the first Russian readers of his novels was Tsar Nicholas I, who had personally met the Scottish bard in Edinburgh in December 1816 during a trip to Britain. A few years later, while still a Grand Duke, Nicholas spent several weeks in the summer of 1820 reading to his young wife Aleksandra Fedorovna, who was recovering from a miscarriage, the first of Scott’s novels. Per her own memoirs: “It was in the wooden Constantine Palace that I spent six sad weeks, but so well taken care of by my husband and by the Empress Mother. At the time, Walter Scott’s novels were extremely popular and Nicholas read them out to me.”119 It was a typical family reading, performed by her husband and possibly approved personally by the Empress Mother, carried out in French at the bedside of the young Prussian Grand Duchess. Later on, Empress Aleksandra Fedorovna herself, who by then had accumulated many of his novels in her library, began to recommend and distribute those works to her Russian fräulein, deeming those readings suitable for the young ladies of the court.120 In those same years, particularly in 1825, Karamzin described the type of family pleasure that the evening reading of Scott’s novels gave him: “At nine we drink tea at the round table and from ten o’clock until eleven-thirty we read, with my wife and our two girls, Walter Scott’s novels, which are innocent food for the imagination and the heart, and we always regret that the evenings are too short.”121

  • 122   Ibid, 16, 34.
  • 123   Ibid., 16.
  • 124   Gessen, Knigoizdatel’ Aleksandr Pushkin, 21.
  • 125   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 16.
  • 126   Ibid., 15.
  • 127   Ibid.

44In the early 1820s, reading Walter Scott’s novels was a pleasure that not all Russian readers could afford—not only because not everyone knew French, but also because even the early Russian translations were quite expensive. The first Russian translations of Scott’s novels were published in volume starting from 1823.122 Since the translations were from the French, some writers noted that Scott’s Russian novels would sound French.123 But the problem for the average reader was primarily the price. In 1824, for example, Russian translations of three major titles like Guy Mannering, Kenilworth and Old Mortality cost, respectively, the considerable sums of 10, 15 and 20 roubles.124 The greatest number of Scott translations appeared between 1827 and 1829; in these three years, as many as 16 of his novels were translated and published in volume.125 His popularity seemed to follow the cadence of his books’ translations. In 1824, a critic from the journal Blagonamerennyi (The Well-Intentioned) wrote, “they are all now into Scott [...] And his historical novels have obscured the glory of Genlis, who was once so popular with us.”126 In 1826 the Moskovskii Telegraf (Moscow Telegraph) wrote that “the passion for reading W. Scott’s works, which has already reached a peak in England, France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden, will soon become a common passion here, too.”127 Walter Scott’s popularity reached its climax at the end of the 1820s. In 1828, the Moskovskii Telegraf decreed Scott’s triumph among Russian readers:

  • 128   Ibid., 16-17.

Walter Scott’s novels have been translated into Russian slowly, badly, as it happens, and yet, thanks to all this, the piles of Radcliffe, Genlis, Ducray-Duminil, A. Lafontaine novels have finally been substituted in Russia by a new favorite. Walter Scott’s novels are everywhere, everybody reads them.128

  • 129   Ibid., 17.

45In the early 1830s, these translations started to spread from the shelves of the capital’s most prestigious bookshops to the stocks of the libraries circulating in small provincial towns. As a provincial reader who took novels from a circulating library wrote in 1832, “the crude writings and annotations on the battered sheets of Walter Scott’s novels are just a confirmation that today people of all ranks love reading.”129

  • 130   Dolinin, Istoriia odetaia v roman, 130-132; Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii (...)
  • 131   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 14.
  • 132   Ibid., 14-15.
  • 133   Ibid., 15. Shachavskoi here plays with the Scottish author’s name: the Russian skot means ‘livest (...)

46As some critics have highlighted, a vital part of the public that read Walter Scott’s novels was composed of female readers.130 Reading Walter Scott’s novels could obtain not only as a family activity—practiced with family members in the intimacy of a sitting room, read aloud, read after dinner and late into the evening—but also a typically feminine one, as pointed out in Shalikov’s Damskii zhurnal, which devoted ample space to those novels.131 A ‘feminine’ reading: in fact, sometimes it was precisely the men who ‘convinced’ many young female readers that they should prefer that kind of reading to other, ‘less acceptable’ novels. T. P. Passek, for example, recalled how, when she was sixteen, the young Baron N. A. Korf had advised her to abandon those novels “about mysterious castles and sweet and disastrous passions” as they were a “harmful type of reading” and “among novels, to choose those by Walter Scott.”132 The acclaimed playwright A. A. Shakhavskoi seemed to have exerted similar pressures on his favorite pupil, the young actress L. O. Diurova, who enjoyed Russian novellas instead. He wrote: “I am very pleased that you, apparently, are now all absorbed in reading Walter Scott: this Scottish ‘animal’ bears no resemblance to our Russian animals that you once enjoyed so much and prevented you from exercising your mind and your soul…”133

  • 134   M. Lyons, “Walter Scott et les lecteurs du romantisme français,” in Idem, Le triomphe du livre. U (...)
  • 135   Cf. Rebecchini, “Reading novels at the Winter Palace: From the Tsar to the Stokers,” 967-968, 984 (...)
  • 136   As Martyn Lyons wrote, “heroic values and material values are combined in a way that makes Scott (...)

47Walter Scott’s novels were an inclusive reading, one capable of attracting both high society and popular readers.134 Between the 1820s and the 1830s, Walter Scott’s novels were read by both the Tsar and Empress, as well as by the servants at the Winter Palace, Moscow’s lower civil servants, and small provincial landowners.135 As noted, Scott’s novels, with their ability to integrate the ancien régime’s old aristocratic values and the new bourgeois sense of reality—especially a clear awareness of the economic and social relations governing history—responded quite well to the mood of European audiences of the 1820s and 1830s.136 On the one hand, his heroes were moved by aristocratic feelings, performed chivalrous gestures, and had a sense of humor; on the other hand, their characters had traits such as austerity, tenacity, and integrity, which were typical of the bourgeois and Protestant rather than the aristocratic ethic. Alongside these ideological elements, it was above all Scott’s ability to describe nature and the uses and customs of the past that struck his contemporaries for its novelty. It is interesting to note the reaction to Walter Scott’s novels by an ordinary landowner, I. I. Mukhanov, in February 1826, in a letter to a relative:

  • 137   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 12.

After lunch I went for a walk, and all the rest of the time I spent reading Walter Scott’s novel Redgauntlet... I read it until three in the morning, and I am increasingly enthusiastic about Walter Scott. His great merit is in his poetic and picturesque descriptions of nature, his true representation of customs and traditions, his comic scenes, and his historical accuracy. In his genre, he is a genius who has shed light so far on the north of Britain.137

  • 138   I. Ferris, “‘Before Our Eyes’: Romantic Historical Fiction and the Apparitions of Reading,” Repre (...)
  • 139   F. Moretti, ‘‘Serious Century,’’ in F. Moretti (ed.), The Novel (Princeton, 2006), vol. 1, 376-37 (...)
  • 140   N. Frye, “Towards Defining an Age of Sensibility,” English Literary History, 23 (1956), 149.
  • 141   Ferris, “‘Before Our Eyes’: Romantic Historical Fiction and the Apparitions of Reading,” 61.

48In its simplicity, this testimony perfectly captures the factors that most affected his contemporary readers: the picturesque descriptions of nature, very different from the dark and disturbing ones in Gothic novels; the ability to faithfully and exhaustively describe the historical context in which the events were set; the descriptions of common people’s local customs and daily life (couleur local)—this too being a new element, absent in both Cottin’s historical-moralistic novels and in the later successful historical novels by D’Arlincourt; and last but not least, a few moments of light popular comedy, generally associated with minor characters. It is likely that this type of reaction was common among many Russian readers of Walter Scott’s time. What changed in these readers’ reactions, vis-a-vis readers of sentimental or Gothic novels, was the matter of emotional investment. Readers felt a sort of detached admiration toward Walter Scott’s books rather than a strong identification or emotional involvement.138 The distant and exotic settings of Gothic or family novels, which before were intended only as a background to make the reader feel the emotions of the protagonist, had now become the focus of the reader’s analytic attention. Walter Scott’s novels did not prevent but on the contrary stimulated their readers’ analytic skills. Franco Moretti argues that through the multiplication of “moments of pause” Scott develops a “new analytical-impersonal style” of description.139As Northrop Frye writes, while for sentimental and Gothic novels, in which “there is a sense of literature as process, pity and fear become states of mind without objects, moods which are common to the work of art and the reader,” for other novelistic genres, in which “there is a strong sense of literature as an aesthetic product, there is also a sense of its detachment from the spectator.”140 Walter Scott’s careful reconstruction of past and distant worlds made the readers of his historical novels no longer feel an emotional experience that deeply transformed their inner selves; rather, those pages now stirred in them a sense of detached admiration that made them forget their inner selves and their present life conditions. As Ina Ferris points out, while transforming history in something to see, “Scott’s historical novel [...] encodes a novelistic reading practice marked by exteriority and a particular kind of temporal suspension.”141

  • 142   Pushkin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, vol. 11, 244.
  • 143   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 12.
  • 144   Ibid., 12-13.
  • 145   Ibid., 13.

49Fascination at those descriptions of faraway lands and past times turned Walter Scott’s novels into a means of escape for many Russian readers, especially those who were more sensitive to the lack of freedoms that characterized Nicholas I’s reign. “In prison and on the road,” Pushkin wrote in the mid 1830s “any book is a divine gift and what book you hesitate to open returning from the English Club or before going to a ball will appear as gripping as an Arabian fairy tale, if you happen to be in a cell or a postal wagon.”142 From his Mikhailovskoe confinement, Pushkin, in November 1824, asked his brother for Walter Scott’s novels which, he wrote, were “food for the soul” for him.143 The young Decembrists N. I. Turgenev, A. A. Bestuzhev, and M. I. Fonvizin read Scott’s novels even in the years before the Decembrist revolt, but it was especially during the years of their imprisonment after 1825 that, from their testimonies, the “escapist” potential ensured to them by reading Walter Scott’s novels most clearly emerged.144 Iurii Levin wrote that “as soon as the prisoners in the Peter and Paul Fortress could receive books, many of them started to read Walter Scott.”145 The Decembrists N. V. Basargin and A. P. Beliaev recall in their memoirs how they had made an agreement with their jailers in the Peter and Paul Fortress: the latter would subscribe to all the novels by Scott and Fenimore Cooper from St. Petersburg’s French bookshop in their stead. Scott’s Highlands and Cooper’s American prairies evoked, much more than Gothic cells and castles, sufficient spaces for one’s imagination to take flight from the cells of the Peter and Paul Fortress. Decembrist A. E. Rozen also wrote about his term of imprisonment in the fortress:

  • 146   Ibid.

I remember with pleasure that I read all the novels by Walter Scott; the hours flew so fast and I often did not realize that I did not hear the bells toll. Through Sokolov I passed those books to my other companions. Sometimes it happened that one day I would read four volumes and feel in my thoughts that I was not in the fortress, but in Kenilworth castle, or in a monastery, or in a Scottish inn, or in the palaces of Louis XI, Edward, and Elizabeth. I was grateful to that author and in the evening I awaited with joy the arrival of the morning.146

  • 147   Ibid.
  • 148   Dolinin, Istoriia odetaia v roman, 129.
  • 149   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 14.
  • 150   Ibid.
  • 151   Dolinin, Istoriia odetaia v roman, 123-124.
  • 152   Ibid., 124.

50The Decembrist V. P. Ivashev brought Walter Scott’s French translations to Siberia with him, while another of the conspirators, V. S. Norov, who locked up in Bobruisk fortress in December 1830, rejected the latest novels and only wanted those by Walter Scott: “I do not want new novels,” he wrote, “send me only Walter Scott’s, a few at a time.”147 This “prison reading,” as it has been called, appears in some way to symbolize one of the main functions performed by Walter Scott’s historical novels in Russian society immediately after the Decembrist revolt: escapism.148 A similar case was that of high school students who were trying to escape a too-disciplined life and the strict control of school authorities. Ivan I. Panaev remembers how in 1827, at the age of 15, while he was studying at the noble Pension of Moscow University, he and his companions “unbeknownst to our supervisors, pretended to practice our lessons [...] Every night we met in the classroom to read Walter Scott’s novels.”149 And a similar type of reading, collective and concealed from the authorities, was carried out by students of the Tsarskoe Selo school; these included Ia. K. Grot, A. A. Kharitonov, and A. N. Iakhontov.150 Aleksandr Dolinin, underlining the escapist function played by Scott’s historical novel in the Russian society of the time, noticed how it was also a favorite read for the sick.151 The case of Empress Aleksandra Fedorovna confirms it, but it is also interesting to quote the testimony of a less highly placed reader, a minor translator from Moscow who, bedridden, begged his publisher to send him Walter Scott’s novels: “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, be of help to my pain. I am allowed to read, but I have absolutely nothing; everything I have, I’ve already read ten times. I had asked for Walter Scott, and you had promised him to me: please keep your promise now, free my soul from this prison.”152

  • 153   A. Grigor’ev, Vospominaniia, 78, 79-80.

51Although Walter Scott’s novels achieved overall success in Restoration Europe, the particularly oppressive conditions of Russian society under Nicholas I seemed to underscore the “escapist” character of his novels: they projected the reader onto a different space, far from Russia, and into a different time. The languid torpor of the feelings induced in so many readers by the best sentimental novels and the “sweet terror” and rapt excitement of Gothic and bandit novels were replaced by an underlying need to escape and a desire to roam remote and distant lands in no way reminiscent of the present. The interpretation of the success of Walter Scott’s novels provided by his avid reader Apollon Grigor’ev a few years later confirms it. In his memoirs, Grigor’ev emphasized, on the one hand, Walter Scott’s ability to project the reader onto a setting that is “entirely secluded, completely isolated from the rest of the world,” and on the other, the spontaneous and naive conservatism of the author, which was perfectly in keeping with the spirit of restoration that predominated throughout Europe: “I repeat,” he wrote, “these restoration trends have a completely different character in the various European countries. [...] In Russia, these restoration tendencies were and have remained a mere aspiration to some greater purification of our popular essence.”153 While those novels allowed the most politically sensitive readers escape from the big Russian “prison” created by Nicholas I, at the same time, for the majority of the Russian public, Walter Scott’s spontaneously conservative mentality was deeply in line with the national-patriotic and conservative spirit promoted by the government and shared by many Russian readers of the 1830s. In this sense, Walter Scott’s historical novels stimulated the Russian public’s interest in Russian history while simultaneously paving the way for the assimilation of the conservative state ideology that informed most Russian historical novels of the 1830s.

  • 154   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 24-28.
  • 155   Ibid.

52The extraordinarily rapid success of Walter Scott’s historical novels turned their author into a mass and commercial phenomenon. Until 1827 he had not publicly admitted to being the author of those novels. Yet his identity had been known for some time, disclosed by journals all over Europe, and Russian as well as other European readers wanted to know more about that mysterious author who had regaled them with so many pleasant hours of entertainment. In newspapers and journals, information about his private life increasingly started to appear.154 Readers were interested in the intimate details of his private life. They followed in the press the news about his extraordinary profits and financial meltdowns; they wanted to visit or write to him.155

  • 156   Ibid., 18-19.
  • 157   Ibid., 20.
  • 158   Ibid.
  • 159   Cf. Grigor’ev, Vospominaniia, 79; Rebecchini, “Reading Novels at the Winter Palace under Nicholas (...)
  • 160   Cf. R. S. Wortman, The Scenarios of Power. Myth and Ceremony in Russian Monarchy (Princeton, 1995 (...)
  • 161   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 23.
  • 162   Dolinin, Istoriia odetaia v roman, 131.

53At the same time, this attitude toward Walter Scott’s novels—i.e. the perception of those novels as aesthetic objects representing exotic and fascinating worlds and arousing a sense of detached admiration—is linked to a phenomenon that was new to the Russian audience: the marketing of a novelistic fictional imaginary. For the first time in Russia, literary heroes were transformed into consumer products, their stories disseminated into a thousand situations and objects of Russian daily life, their names a brand. This did not apply solely to the spread of Scott’s stories in theaters (e.g. in Shakhavskoi’s numerous stagings since the early 1820s of plays like Ivanhoe or The Return of Richard the Lionheart [Ivanoi, ili Vozvrashchenie Richarda l’vinogo serdtsa] [1821], or The Mysterious Carlo [Tainstvennyi Karlo] [1822], or The Fate of Nigell, or All is Misfortune for a Hapless Man [Sud’ba Nidzhelia, ili Vse beda dlia neschastnogo] [1824]), or staged by other authors like A. A. Zhandr, who produced The Sea Robber (Morskoi razboinik), based on The Pirate.156 Walter Scott’s characters became masks for costume parties, were mentioned in private letters to evoke familiar situations and atmospheres from novels, and became nicknames attributed to servants. The “Scottish highlander” mask or that of “Rebecca,” for example, became a classic mask at many parties of the time. In 1831 a chronicler described a masquerade that took place during Easter among the nobles of the city of Penza as follows: “We all loved the splendid dress of Rebecca the Jewess taken from Walter Scott’s novel; her grace and amiability has attracted many admirers.”157 In 1831, during Nicholas I’s visit to Moscow, a party with tableaux vivants from Ivanhoe was organized. One of these was titled “Lady Rowen receives the young Jewess Rebecca, who brings gifts and kneels in front of her,” and Rebecca was played by Princess A. D. Abamelek.158 As may be noted, it was the characters from Ivanhoe in particular that fascinated the most highly placed Russian readers, while among the lower public, for whom the long descriptions of Scott’s earlier novels were sometimes boring, the later novels such as The Count of Paris, which featured more action and less descriptions, were the most popular.159 The settings of his novels were turned into architectural and décor styles for the high aristocracy. Nicholas I had the Peterhof Cottage built in a style inspired by Walter Scott’s novels, while the governor of Crimea, Vorontsov, called on Walter Scott’s architect friend who had designed the famous Abbotsford House to design his Alupka Palace.160 But the fashion of novels also spread at a lower level, becoming a popular show or a consumable item. In Moscow in 1828, a certain Madame Stefani organized a circus show in which she promised to give the audience a “magical and heroic representation taken from a Scottish novel by the famous Walter Scott.”161 Even in Russia—as before in France—there began to appear dresses and hats made with the much sought-after tartan plaid evoked in Scott’s novels: a “cape à la Walter Scott,” a “Quentin Durward cape,” “caps à la Rebecca,” etc., while cooks invented dishes in honur of the novelist, like gélé “à la Walter Scott.”162 The fortune of Walter Scott among the Russian public was thus not only related to his having offered compelling stories to his readers, which carried them away from the Russian reality of the time, but also to his having created a world of characters, settings, and easily identifiable and reproducible objects with which readers loved to surround themselves.

  • 163   On the ideologization of the Russian reading public see Rebecchini, “The success of the Russian n (...)
  • 164   V. I. Kuleshov, Otechestvennye zapiski i literatura 40kh godov XIX v. (Moscow, 1958), 366.
  • 165   See also Dolinin, Istoriia odetaia v roman, 262-272.
  • 166   Grigor’ev, Vospominaniia, 77.
  • 167   Ibid.
  • 168   See Leibov-Vdovin, “What and how Russian pupils read in school” in the present volume. See also D (...)

54Yet, as early as the early 1840s, with the radicalization and ideologization of a significant part of the Russian public, Walter Scott’s novels and their conservative ideology soon became unpopular with the more progressive Russian youth.163 In 1840, for example, Aleksei Galakhov wrote to Andrei Kraevskii: “In the Pechkin café there is often a group of twenty students [...] they do not understand French very well: it is not surprising that such pillars of culture prefer to read Dumas or Sand rather than Cooper or Walter Scott”164 Dumas and Sand represented the latest aesthetic and ideological trend, the most modern and fashionable one, while Walter Scott’s novels now appeared to be, to many young people, decidedly aged, boring, and intolerably conservative.165 In spite of the fall in price and the improvement in translations, interest in Walter Scott’s novels seemed to decrease even among the most popular readership of this period. As Apollon Grigor’ev remembers, even in the two capitals his novels struggled to find new readers: “In the mid forties in Petersburg they prepared a cheap and quite good edition of Walter Scott’s works, translated from the original, but they stopped publishing it after only the fourth novel and, even those four books, as far as I know, sold very few copies.”166 The situation in Moscow was no different: “in the 1850s a good man in Moscow,” recalls Grigor’ev, “took it upon himself to start a series of translations of Walter Scott’s original works, an even cheaper series, but even worse than that published in St. Petersburg, and due to this edition he went bankrupt, it seems, precisely because it did not sell enough.”167 Thus, starting from the mid 1840s, Scott’s novels stopped being perceived as precious bestsellers by a part of the public and began to turn, slowly but steadily, into English literary classics or children’s books, and such they remained until the late Soviet period.168

3. Dangerous Reading: French Novels at Court and in High Society During the 1830s and 1840s

  • 169   Belinskii, Sobranie sochinenii, vol. 8, 344

55By the mid 1840s, novel-reading in Russia had completely changed as compared to the beginning of the century. In 1847 Belinskii wrote, “foreign novels are no longer hindering Russian ones and the reading public is already showing a marked preference for Russian novels.”169 The success of Russian novelists in the 1830s and 1840s had a profound effect on the purpose of reading foreign novels in Russia. In the first two decades of the century, European novels had enabled Russian readers to come into contact not only with new literary forms but also with western emotions and behavior, identifying with them and partially transforming their own sensitivities. However, with the success of Russian novels, the reading of foreign novels began to offer readers the opportunity for comparison rather than for identification. Alongside English and French historical novels, a wealth of Russian historical novels had now become available; alongside the great English and French social and psychological novels, Russian readers were already able to read important Russian models, such as Lermontov’s A Hero of our Time, Gogol’s Dead Souls and Herzen’s Who is to Blame? Western novels began to be seen as a chance to observe different social and psychological dynamics compared to those being described in Russian novels. They frequently reflected behavioral values and models that were emerging in the more liberal French and English societies, which greatly contrasted with traditional Russian mores. All this was seen as a threat by the Tsarist authorities.

  • 170Ustav o tsenzure 1828 goda, article § 80.
  • 171   Ruud, Fighting Words, 81.

56Since the time when western novels first made their appearance in Russia, they had been viewed with suspicion by the Russian political and literary authorities, but by the time Nicholas had become tsar, suspicions had been turned into legislative measures that had a significant impact on which authors and texts were to be made available to the reading public. The new censorship law that came into force in 1828 required censors to check “novels, tales (povesti), and all such works of foreign literature with much greater severity than other books, especially as regards the morality of their content.”170 During the 1830s and 1840s, the authorities viewed foreign novels not so much as the “post-horses of civilization,” as Pushkin had called them, but as Trojan horses that would allow immoral behavior and subversive ideas to worm their way into Russia. Translations of foreign novels were closely monitored, and when censors overlooked aspects that might offend Russia’s traditional morals or Orthodox religion, they paid a price in person.171

  • 172   Ibid., 90.
  • 173   A. V. Nikitenko, Dnevnik (Moscow, 1955), vol. 1, 140.
  • 174   Kufaev, Istoriia russkoi knigi, 114-115.
  • 175   Ruud, Fighting Words, 95, 254
  • 176   Ibid., 90. Different data are reported by Mikhail Kufaev, who put imported foreign works as high (...)
  • 177   Belinskii, Sobranie sochinenii, vol. 2, 281.

57The special attention that censors paid to translated foreign novels led to imported books becoming one of the main channels for spreading western habits and values. While the volumes published in Russia were effectively checked word by word, only the invoiced titles of imported books were actually screened.172 And most of the foreign books that the censors prohibited from being translated into Russian circulated in their original editions: “There is not a single book forbidden by the censors of foreign books that we cannot easily purchase even from second-hand book sellers,” wrote the censor Nikitenko in the mid 1830s.173 Booksellers were particularly busy dealing in foreign books in the major cities, especially in St. Petersburg. In the first decades of the century it was mostly booksellers of foreign origin that dealt in them (Bellizar, Gautier, etc.), but already by the 1830s Russian booksellers such as Iakov A. Isakov had begun to open European branches and import books directly from Paris. This not only helped to bring down the prices of foreign books sold in Russia, but also helped them gain exposure in book stores that were traditionally reserved for Russian literature.174 If, on the one hand, the number of Russian works approved by the censors remained basically constant from the mid thirties to the end of the forties (between 900 and 1,100 titles a year),175 then on the other hand, the number of volumes imported in that period increased at least fourfold. According to Charles A. Ruud, in 1828 the Foreign Censorship Committee screened 90,000 imported foreign works and by 1848 that figure had topped the 400,000 mark.176 According to Belinskii, most of these imported books were French novels and plays: “French novels and vaudevilles make up the bulk of foreign books imported into Russia,” the critic wrote in 1838.177

  • 178   Offord, Argent, Rjéoutski, The French Language in Russia, 195-206, 215-253.

58Who were the readers of these French imports? If it is true that the late 1830s were marked by a sharp increase in the consumption of Russian novels, there was nevertheless still a part of Russian society that spoke and read mostly in French—namely the world of the court, the aristocracy, the political-financial elite, and part of the provincial nobility.178 Different cultural or practical reasons lay behind these groups’ preference for reading in French: many of the elite had foreign origins, and they often came from the empire’s provinces (such as the Baltic governorates) or from other European countries, so Russian was not their native language; but even the aristocracy of Russian origin often still preferred to read foreign novels mostly in French due to the language’s longstanding cultural prestige. It is worth taking a look at the tastes and reading practices of this group of the elite who, in spite of the ever-increasing influence of the Russian critics on the public, still held sway in a vital part of the Russian society at that time.

  • 179   On this, cf. D. Rebecchini, Letture al Palazzo d’Inverno (1829-1855). La lettura come fatto socia (...)
  • 180   Particularly on the reading of court memoirs, cf. D. Rebekkini, “V.A. Zhukovskii i frantsuzskie m (...)
  • 181   Cf. AGE, fond 2, opis’ XIVe, d. 12.

59The loan register of the library belonging to the son of Nicholas I, the heir to the throne Alexander Nikolaevich (the future Alexander II), preserved in the Winter Palace, allows us to partially reconstruct the reading habits of a large group of court readers, about 80 people from 1828 to 1855.179 These were members of the imperial family, high court officials with their wives, ladies-in-waiting, tutors and teachers. It was a highly heterogeneous group of readers, in terms of both nationality and culture. They also took out books in German and English, but French predominated, while Russian requests were few and far between. Yet despite a wide variety of national backgrounds and reading competence, and despite the wealth of books available, the novels they requested were often the same. The heir’s library was particularly well stocked with literary novelties. The genres most frequently consulted were French memoirs, contemporary novels, and vaudevilles.180 Historical works were also frequently consulted, even by non-scholarly readers, whereas books of poetry were borrowed only rarely. With regard to novels, court readers focused on quite a limited number of authors and titles that seemed to go from hand to hand; they seemed to read these texts almost simultaneously. For example, between 1829 and 1834, Walter Scott’s novels were requested 22 times by the most diverse readers, such as members of the imperial family, teachers, tutors and ladies-in-waiting. Between 1830 and 1832, the same reader, Madame Merder, borrowed thirteen different Walter Scott novels one after the other. Among them, Scott’s most borrowed books at Nicholas’s court were Quentin Durward and Ivanhoe (while the palace servants much preferred Scott’s Count Robert of Paris). Balzac’s novels were borrowed nine times in the period between 1833 and 1836. Among Balzac’s novels, there was a marked interest in the cycle Scenes from Private Life (Scènes de la vie privée), in particular in Old Goriot (Le père Goriot). Only one reader borrowed Stendhal’s The Red and the Black (Le rouge et le noir), while his Promenades dans Rome was in great demand. There was frequent interest in classical novels such as Cervantes’s Don Quixote in French translation, Fénelon’s edifying The Adventures of Telemachus (Les aventures de Télémaque) and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, which were borrowed not only by young readers. Chateaubriand’s Atala and René also aroused particular interest. His two short novels, published more than thirty years earlier, were borrowed by several members of the imperial family, from the Heir to the throne, his wife, the Grand Duchesses Mariia, Olga, and Aleksandra, as well as an intimate family friend, Madame Baranova. Interestingly, Maria Edgeworth’s novel production still seemed to find appeal, as did the historical novels by Zschokke, Sismondi, and Vigny in particular. On the other hand, however, the most classic sentimentalist novels—from Richardson to Rousseau to Goethe’s Werther—seem to have completely lost their appeal among court readers in the 1830s. Of course, not only French contemporary novels were in demand alongside Walter Scott’s, but they were certainly in the majority. Similar data come from the other court libraries. Between 1844 and 1847, the empress arranged for a number of books to arrive from the tsar’s library, including two novels by Eugène Sue; three by Countess Dash, by Joseph Méry and by Théodor de Foudras; four by de Charles de Bernard, five novels by Frédéric Soulié, Paul Lacroix, Paul Féval and George Sand; nine Honoré de Balzac novels; and twenty by Alexande Dumas Sr.181

60What kind of reactions did these foreign novels arouse among the readers of the court of Nicholas I? Contemporary French novels by authors such as Frédéric Soulié, Eugène Sue, George Sand, Alexandre Dumas and Balzac seemed to arouse a mixture of curiosity and disquiet among readers at court. Their curiosity stemmed from the awareness that those were works that Paris, the cultural capital of Europe, had crowned with success; their disquiet was due to an uneasy feeling that such novels were proof of the moral corruption and social instability of the western world, instability that could undermine the social order on which the Russian monarchy itself rested. The court librarian assured the Parisian booksellers:

  • 182   Letter from Gille to Warée from March 9, 1834 in AGE, fond 2, opis’ XIVzh, d. 22, part 1.

If a novel meets with the approval of people of taste, you can be sure that it will also make us happy to receive them, but even though we are part of the literary movement that has been going on in France for some years now, I can assure you that we are far from sharing this tendency to flights of fancy (dévergondage d’esprit) from which some of your young writers such as Soulié, Alexandre Dumas, etc. seem to suffer. We do not want these crude and cynical reflections (élucubrations féroces), these galvanizing books (livres galvaniques), such as Angèle, Thérèse, etc. Here, no more than in France, I think, healthy readers do not want to hear about them.182

  • 183   A. F. Tiutcheva, Pri dvore dvukh imperatorov. Vospominaniia. Dnevnik (Moscow, 1928), vol. 1, 95, (...)

61But how were these novels actually read at the court of Nicholas I? Which were the most widespread reading practices and how did they influence the reception of the novels? Individual silent reading was just one of the court’s reading practices, and apparently daily life at court was not favorable to it. If we compare the life of a courtier with that of an ordinary provincial nobleman, such as Andrei Chikhachev (see Golovina, “Belles-Lettres and the literary interests of middling landowners,” in the present volume), we soon realize that the residents at the Russian court had less leisure time and fewer opportunities for solitary reading. The courtier was a man who was on duty full-time, sometimes until late at night, depending upon the service with which he was charged. The same applied to the members of the imperial family who, not unlike their servants, were forced to submit to strict court protocol. The daughter of the poet Fedor Tiutchev, Anna Tiutcheva (1829-1889), soon realized this when she arrived at court as a lady-in-waiting to Mariia Aleksandrovna, the wife of the heir to the throne. Tiutcheva was immediately struck by the endless number of ceremonies, masses, parades, celebrations, and other duties in which she was forced to participate, even during summers on the country estates. The members of the court, she wrote, “never get a chance to bury themselves in a good book, converse, or reflect [...] In the end, this mundane life in the country, when you only go back to your room to change, brings you down and makes you dull. We have no chance to read on our own or to engage in anything special.”183

62Group or parlor readings with a large number of participants were one of the main forms of entertainment at the court of Nicholas I, along with theater performances and home games. Typically, these readings were held in the evening after tea, in the gold drawing room at the Winter Palace, and went on even after 11 P.M. There was a large number of consistent guests, often more than ten, including some members of the most aristocratic families, and readings were not free of interruptions, comments, and digressions. Memoirs report the readings occurring alongside petits jeux, tableaux vivants, and amateur theatricals; thus, they were considered above all to be a form of entertainment. In 1836, for example, Gogol’ was repeatedly invited to read his The Government Inspector (Revizor) at court. But more frequent were the readings of novels performed by a member of the court. The twenty-six-year-old Tiutcheva, who took part in them in the last years of Nicholas I’s reign, drew an ironic picture of them:

  • 184   Tiutcheva, Pri dvore dvukh imperatorov, vol. 2, 76-77.

We meet at nine o’clock in the evening. The Empresses usually sit at the table with some old ladies, such as Princess Saltykova, Countess Baranova, Countess Tizengauzen. Count Shuvalov and Count Apraksin have been present at these evenings since they were established. The young, composed of more than mature women—namely the 45- and 35-year-old Bartenevy Mesdemoiselles, 30-year-old Mademoiselle Gudovich, Countess Tolstaia aged 30, Mademoiselle Voeikova of 30 and I, 26—sit at the children’s table. [...] We talk about the day’s weather or some other very topical matter. And then we move on to reading. Shuvalov sits down with his novel, of which neither the title nor the author anybody has ever heard, and in a monotonous, nasal voice, he drones on about a tangle of murders, kidnappings, poisonings, ambushes, betrayals, hangings, declarations of love, reasonings, dialogues, curses, spells, and catastrophes of all kinds, which represent the appeal of the nineteenth-century novel of intrigue.184

  • 185   Cf. K. A. Chekalov, “Rossiiskaia ‘misterimaniia’ 1840kh godov: paradoks vospriiatiia romana Ezhen (...)
  • 186   A. O. Smirnova-Rosset, Dnevnik. Vospominaniia (Moscow, 1989), 11.
  • 187   On the rhetoric of the Mysteries of Paris by E. Sue and its effect on French bourgeois and prolet (...)
  • 188   On reader reactions to Sue’s novel in France, see Jean-Pierre Galvan, Les mystères de Paris. Eugè (...)

63This form of group reading favored certain narrative forms more than others and emphasized certain stylistic features more than others. It excluded lyrical genres and sentimental prose, which required a more intimate form of reading, but also historical or philosophical prose, which required greater concentration and the possibility of more complex logical connections. Group reading favored novels with compelling plots, such as historical novels, maritime and adventure novels, serials, and even more dramatic genres, vaudevilles, and light plays, often read by more than one person. This type of reading was often interrupted, as Tiutcheva reported—which emphasized the fleeting effect of the novel’s plot (the murder, the poisoning, the betrayal, etc.) and the peculiarity of the situation or the immediacy of the dialogue, all at the expense of the overall idea of the work. It is in this reading context that the success of Balzac, Dumas, and Eugène Sue’s novels should be understood. In this context—an expanded social community comprised of people of different ages and with different interests—it is easier to understand the success of more democratic works like The Mysteries of Paris (Les Mystères de Paris) by Eugène Sue.185 The narrative structure of the serial novel, with its interweaving plot lines that perfectly fit into each chapter and a narrative structure that perfectly distributed emotions across each installment, suited the Empress Aleksandra Fedorovna’s reading room very well, per another lady-in-waiting: “At court they greedily read The Mysteries of Paris and the Emperor listened to the Louve episode with tears in his eyes.”186 Sue’s novel, conceived for a bourgeois audience but immediately adopted in 1848 by the Parisian proletariat as its manifesto, moved one of Europe’s most reactionary sovereigns to tears.187 Nicholas’s reaction is proof of a narrative mechanism perfectly conceived by Sue that worked with any reader, regardless of nation, rank, or culture.188

64The impact of the tsar’s and these court readers’ reactions and opinions should not be underestimated. Nicholas’s opinions were backed by real force of censorship, and were indirectly felt by all of Petersburg’s high society. Tiutcheva wrote in her diary about the readings to the two Empresses:

  • 189   Tiutcheva, Pri dvore dvukh imperatorov, vol. 2, 180-181.

Everywhere they will know and repeat that the two Empresses spent three nights a week, and even some mornings, for two months, listening to this awful novel [...] Here they ignore the fact that none of their gestures go unnoticed, that everything is made public, and is attributed a particular meaning.189

  • 190   “Iz vospominanii baronessy M.P. Frederiks,” Istoricheskii Vestnik, vol. 71, 1 (1898), 70.
  • 191   On the function of reading in the Protestant world, see in part I. F. Gilmont, Riforma protestant (...)
  • 192   Smirnova-Rosset, Dnevnik. Vospominaniia, 238.
  • 193   Tiutcheva, Pri dvore dvukh imperatorov, vol. 1, 157.
  • 194   Tiutcheva, Pri dvore dvukh imperatorov, vol. 1, 128.

65Unlike group parlor readings, which were exclusively for entertainment purposes, forms of more intimate reading among fewer people represented a refuge from court life. Due to the limited number of participants, these readings were better suited to the individual listeners’ tastes and interests than parlor readings. Frederiks noted: “In the morning our readings were more demanding or of a scientific nature; we also read newspapers. After lunch and in the evening we read memoirs or new novels or similar things to Her Highness.”190 Sometimes these readings also revived models and practices of Protestant devotion.191 The reading practices of the Protestant tradition entered Nicholas’s court through the Empress Aleksandra Fedorovna and the tsarevna Mariia Aleksandrovna. In organizing his daily life, for example, the Prussian king Frederick William III and the queen Louise (Aleksandra Fedorovna’s parents) followed cultural practices that blended some elements of lay culture and others typical of Protestant devotion: “In the morning the Queen read the newspapers, prayed with him, and read him spiritual books. […] They had lunch at three and invited one of the princes, and Pastor Eilert was always there, also reading to him in the evening.”192 This form of intimate, familiar room reading suited the tsarevna, also a Protestant—even more so, seeing as she came from the small, provincial court of Hesse-Darmstadt. Mariia Aleksandrovna brought certain more bourgeois practices and cultural models to the court than the worldly and courtly ones observed by Aleksandra Fedorovna. Thus, before becoming Empress, Mariia Aleksandrovna preferred smaller, family-like group readings, often involving the heir and a limited number of ladies-in-waiting: “Every evening we meet at the tsarevna’s with a small group: Mademoiselle Granse, Princess Saltykova, Aleksandra Dolgorukaia and I. We read Voyage autour de ma chambre by Count de Maistre. We read in this order: first the Grand Duke, then I,” wrote Tiutcheva.193 Readers often took turns in reading aloud, creating a more close-knit and familiar atmosphere in which hierarchical differences seemed to be mitigated. Here reading was no longer a service rendered to the master, but a time of intellectual communion. For this reason, Tiutcheva, so impatient with Aleksandra Fedorovna’s highly ritualized parlor readings, rejoiced in the evenings with the Tsarevna: “Last night the Empress hosted the usual dull and monotonous evening. Tonight, however, we will return to our small evening parties with the tsarevna, reading Don Quixote, which we enjoy so much.”194

  • 195   Smirnova-Rosset, Dnevnik. Vospominaniia, 235-236.
  • 196   Ibid.

66At court and in high society, at that time, generational differences among the readers became increasingly pronounced. Readings that may have sounded scandalous for Aleksandra Fedorovna, such as George Sand’s novels, were appreciated by younger aristocrats. In 1838, Empress Aleksandra Fedorovna remarked to Aleksandra Smirnova, who was reading to her from George Sand’s Indiana, about a female character, “Ma chère, you understand that she loves a doctor. Even if he were as handsome as Adonis, he is still a man who prescribes purges, or an irrigation, and whom you pay ten francs for a visit!” 195 Smirnova comments: “What an aristocratic vision of love! Nowadays, love is blind, and even Russian ladies, after reading all of Ms. Sand’s novels, have assimilated her point of view, and they go gallivanting around Europe with Italian clerks as their lovers without feeling any pangs of conscience.”196

  • 197   Twenty-nine George Sand works were translated in journals and eleven published as books. Between (...)
  • 198   F. M. Dostoevskii, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 30 vols, (Leningrad, 1981), vol. 23, 33.
  • 199   I. Aizenshtok, “Frantsuzskie pisateli v otsenkakh tsarskoi tsenzury,” Literaturne nasledstvo, vol (...)
  • 200   Ibid.
  • 201   On the censors’ attitude to George Sand’s novels, cf. Aizenshtok, “Frantsuzskie pisateli v otsenk (...)

67It was precisely via George Sand’s novels that a new model of female behavior penetrated Russian society. Her novels were widely translated, first in journals, especially in Otechestvennye zapiski (The Fatherland Notes), and later in book form.197 According to Dostoevsky, by the end of the 1830s she was the most popular European novelist with the Russian public: “Not even Dickens, who made his appearance among us at the same time as George Sand, seems to have enjoyed such attention from the public. Not to mention Balzac.”198 Ivan Goncharov recalls that in those years “people were constantly talking about George Sand, and as soon as her books came out, they were read, translated.”199 The writer adds: “A number of women took her radical ideas about emancipation literally, putting themselves in the situation of one or the other of her literary heroines, something that would never have occurred to them if George Sand hadn’t existed.”200 Despite the efforts of the censors, the Russian translations of those novels enabled these new models of behavior to reach non-aristocratic readers too.201 At the end of the 1830s, passion for George Sand and emulation of “Sandian behavior” could be found among students and very young female readers from the lower social classes. Thanks to the example of George Sand’s literary heroines, certain social constraints and moral prohibitions that were imposed on the previous generation were no longer tolerated by the younger readers. For example, Proskov’ia Tatlina (1812-1854), who was the daughter of a Moscow administrator and who got married to a low-ranking officer, recalls the influence that the French writer’s novels had had on her daughters Natasha and Masha since the 1830s:

  • 202   See f.i. P. N. Tatlina, “Vospominaniia (1812-1854),” Russkii arkhiv, 10 (1899), 220-221.

George Sand seduced Natasha. […] Reading George Sand definitely encouraged the tendency, already evident among many young people, towards carnal love, clouding their minds to such an extent that they considered a normal, base instinct to be the loftiest ideal. I had completely fallen out with Natasha in my view of the vocation of a woman. I believed in an active love, or, to say it more simply, in a ‘useful’ love; while she had been infected with the so-called Sandian ideas. And this contagion spread to Masha too. […] Masha began to distance herself from me, she didn’t like what I said to her. She started to run away from home and wander around town on her own. […] The idea behind women’s emancipation is a good one: but it was achieved here in ways that could have ruined her: short hair, a man’s hat, vulgar behavior, forms of self-deception. It was clear to me that I had to take Masha away. But where the devil could we go?202

  • 203   Cf. Beaven Remnek, “‘A Larger Portion of the Public,’” 43-44.

68As Miranda Remnek underlines, it was precisely by imitating George Sand’s heroines that Natasha and Masha managed to stand up for their own independence against their mother’s wishes.203

  • 204   Between 1832 and 1842 alone, no fewer than twenty-six Paul de Kock novels were translated and pub (...)

69The spread of French novels in the 1830s and 1840s encouraged new attitudes towards family, work, love and religion among the Russian public. The degree of behavioral freedom achieved by French society during the reign of Louis Philippe was incomparably greater than that of Russian society. The novels of Paul de Kock, Balzac, Eugène Sue and George Sand, which described every aspect of contemporary life in France, from the fashionable life in Paris to that of the provincial towns, from the countryside to the city slums—all of this played an important role in presenting the Russian public with new types of social, romantic, and familial relationships.204 In 1838 Belinskii thusly summed up the moral that the Russian reading public could take from the new French novelists:

  • 205   Belinskii, Sobranie sochinenii (Moscow, 1977), vol. 2, 338-339.

Eugène Sue has declared that, nowadays, being good and honest means heading straight for the gallows or the execution wheel, while behaving like a coward or a murderer is a sure way of enjoying all the pleasures of this world. […] Balzac preaches that being poor is the same as ending up alive in hell and that being happy and blessed means having bags of money and being entitled to add the preposition ‘de’ to your surname. Dumas has told the whole world that loving a woman means being prepared to strangle or knife her at any moment. George Sand invited humanity to go back to Nature, considering civil institutions, and especially marriage, to be the main cause of people’s misfortunes.205

  • 206   Nikitenko, Dnevnik, vol. 1, 140.
  • 207   Dostoevskii, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, vol. 23, 32, 34.
  • 208   Nikitenko, Dnevnik, vol. 1, 183.

70Despite the cuts and prohibitions of the censors, numerous novels by these authors continued to appear in journals and in book form. When an entire volume was censored, popular demand might lead to long passages from that text to appear in journals. At the same time, the foreign novels that had been officially outlawed would still circulate through unofficial channels.206 As Dostoevskii recalled, at the end of the 1830s “only novels were allowed, everything else, any idea almost, especially if it came from France, was really strictly forbidden […] But what is important is that by then readers knew how to get everything that the authorities were trying so hard to protect them from, even from novels.”207 Not only the authorities, but also the older and more conservative members of the public, believed those novels to be responsible for corrupting the younger generations, encouraging them to adopt immoral forms of behavior, to break up marriages, or even to commit crimes. In May 1836, Nikiten’ko noted the following item of criminal news in his diary: “Pavlov, a civil servant, killed, or almost killed, the current State Councilor Aprelev while the latter was returning from church with his young bride […] The public rose up in anger against Pavlov as a ‘base murderer,’ and the minister of education imposed an embargo on all French novels and tales (povesti), particularly on the works of Dumas, considering them the real culprits.”208 Soon enough those novels became one of the scapegoats for justifying many of the tensions and social contradictions that were beleaguering Russian society in the 1830s and 1840s. And when the threats of Europe’s revolutions moved ever closer to Russia, the authorities’ fears turned into outright panic.

  • 209   Ibid., 307
  • 210   N. G. Patrushcheva, I. P. Fut, Tsirkuliary tsenzurnogo vedomstva Rossiiskoi imperii. Sbornik doku (...)
  • 211   Ibid., p. 74.
  • 212   Ruud, Fighting Words, 90.
  • 213   Patrushcheva, Fut, Tsirkuliary tsenzurnogo vedomstva, 85.
  • 214   “His Majesty the Emperor ordered that all books imported into the Russian Empire should be subjec (...)
  • 215   Ruud, Fighting Words, 90.
  • 216   Kufaev, Istoriia russkoi knigi, 116.

711848 marked a turning point not only for the publication of Russian works, but also for translating and importing foreign novels. As early as May 1847, the Minister for Education tried to prevent any foreign novels from being published in Russian journals, but his plan failed.209 In June the Minister insistently asked the St. Petersburg censors to pay closer attention to translations of foreign novels, “especially by the French writers whose names are more or less famous among the public,” and he recommended checking that St. Petersburg journals “were not filled only with novels translated in full.”210 With regard to imported books, the Minister decided that the censors, “when allowing certain foreign novels to be imported into Russia, should also establish whether they may be translated into Russian” and ordered that “any novels barred from having a full translation should also be barred from having translated passages thereof being printed.”211 In 1848 it was the tsar himself who ordered the censors to make page-by-page checks not only of everything that was published in Russia, but also everything that was imported.212 In April 1848, to avoid whetting the public’s appetite, Russian journals were barred from publishing reviews and critical essays by foreign authors of novels and works forbidden in Russia.213 At the same time, in June 1848 the tsar imposed stiffer import tariffs specifically in order to hinder the importation of novels.214 From that year on, the Foreign Censorship Committee was awarded extra funds and extra personnel, thereby ensuring much more accurate checks.215 After similar efforts on the part of the authorities, the production of Russian novels fall dramatically in volume (from 94 to 24 titles between 1847 and 1850), and moreover, between 1849 and 1850 there was a 17% drop in everything printed in Russia.216

Conclusions

72The huge consumption of European novels in Russia in the first half of the nineteenth century enabled an increasingly differentiated public to read about and partially assimilate a series of western emotional patterns and behaviors that had been shared above all among Russian and European nobles in the previous decades. Thanks to the great popularity of sentimental and Gothic novels among diverse social classes, not only the Russian aristocracy, but also small provincial landowners, clerks, merchants, domestic servants, and sometimes even craftsmen and peasant farmers learned to fall in love and suffer like western readers, to take similar pleasures in Nature and experience similar shudders when navigating an unfamiliar space. European novels thus not only helped draw Russian readers closer to the western reading public, but also contributed to the reduction of cultural barriers between Russian readers from various social classes and other cultural worlds.

73The success of Walter Scott’s novels during the 1820s marked a significant change in the way novels were read. If prior literary forms like sentimental or Gothic novels encouraged readers to mimic or identify with their heroes, then in reading Walter Scott, the Russian public instead began to enjoy a more escapist form of reading, one that, conversely, relied upon the distance between the world of the fictional hero and that of the reader. Rather than offering the Russian readers a powerful emotional experience that deeply transformed their inner selves, Walter Scott’s novels aroused a sense of detached admiration that permitted readers to escape from their everyday drudgery into captivating long-gone and faraway worlds. At the same time, by reading Western historical novels, Russian readers learned about the past of other European nations and were thus encouraged to compare those worlds with their own and to discover their own history as well as the typical features of their own national identity. Historical novels stimulated a more analytical approach to reading than in the past, as well as a greater tendency to compare the past with the present and the western world with the Russian one. This new analytical approach was soon put into practice with French social and realistic novels too. By reading contemporary French novels—from Paul de Kock to Balzac, from Eugène Sue to Dumas to George Sand—the Russian public of the 1830s and after became aware of the new social and familial dynamics that were emerging in the West and started comparing them with the Russian context. In this way, the most recent French authors promoted new values and new forms of behavior theretofore alien to Russian society, which an ever increasing number of Russian readers began to imitate.

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Diakonova N., Vatsuro V., “‘No Great Mind and Generous Heart Could Avoid Byronism’: Russia and Byron,” in R. A. Cardwell (ed.), The Reception of Byron in Europe (London, New York: Thoemmes Continuum, 2008), vol. 2, 333-351.

Dolinin A., Istoriia, odetaia v roman. Val’ter Skott i ego chitateli (Moscow, 1988).

Drews P., Die Rezeption deutscher Belletristik in Russland, 1750-1850 (Műnich: O. Sagner, 2007).

Genevray F., George Sand et ses contemporains russe. Audience, échos, réécritures (Paris : L’Harmattan, 2000).

Glagoleva O. E., “Imaginary World: Reading in the Lives of Russian Provincial Noblewomen (1750-1825),” in W. Rosslyn (ed.), Women and Gender in 18th-Century Russia (London: Routledge, 2003), 129-146.

Hammarberg G., “The First Russian Women’s Journals and the Construction of the Reader,” in W. Rosslyn, A. Tosi (eds.), Women in Russian Culture and Society, 1700-1825 (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 83-104.

Hoogenboom H., “Sentimental Novels and Pushkin: European Literary Markets and Russian Readers,” Slavic Review, vol. 74, 3 (Fall 2015), 553-574.

Kochetkova N. D., Literatura russkogo sentimentalizma (Esteticheskie i khudozhestvennye iskaniia) (Saint Petersburg: Nauka, 1994).

Kufaev M. N., Istoriia russkoi knigi v XIX veke (Moscow: Nachatki znanii, 1927; 2nd edition, Moscow, Pashkov dom, 2003).

Kuz’mina V. D., Rytsarskii roman na Rusi (Moscow: Nauka, 1964).

Levin Iu. D., “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” in Epokha romantizma. Iz istorii mezhdurnarodnykh sviazei russkoi literatury (Leningrad: Nauka 1975), 5-67.

Rebecchini D., “Reading Novels at the Winter Palace under Nicholas I: From the Tsar to the Stokers”, Slavic Review, vol. 78, 4 (Winter, 2019), 965-985.

Reitblat A. I., Ot Bovy k Bal’montu i drugie raboty po istoricheskoi sotsiologii russkoi literatury (Moscow: NLO, 2009).

Ruud Ch. A., Fighting Words. Imperial Censorship and the Russian Press, 1804-1906, 2nd ed. (Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press, 2009).

Schaarschmidt G., “The Lubok Novels: Russia’s Immortal Best Sellers,” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, vol. 9, 3 (September 1982), 424-436.

Sipovskii V. V., Iz istorii russkoi literatury XVIII v. Opyt statisticheskogo nabliudeniia (Saint Petersburg: Tip. Imp. Akad. Nauk, 1901).

Streidter Ju., Der Schelmenroman in Russland: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Russischen Romans vor Gogol’ (Berlin, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1961).

Tosi A., Waiting for Pushkin. Russian Fiction in the Reign of Alexander I (1801-1825) (Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi, 2006).

Vatsuro V. E., Goticheskii roman v Rossii (Moscow: NLO, 2002).

Zorin A., Poiavlenie geroia. Iz istorii russkoi emotsional’noi kul’tury kontsa XVIII—nachala XIX veka (Moscow: NLO, 2016).

Notes

1   See Baudin, “Reading in the times of Catherine II,” vol. 1. See also G. Marker, Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of the Intellectual Life in Russia, 1700-1800 (Princeton, 1985), 103-109, 158-172, 184-211. For a discussion of the notion of reading public see Smith-Peter, “The struggle to create a regional public,” in the present volume.

2   Cf. A. B. Blium, “Massovoe chtenie v russkoi provintsii kontsa XVIII-pervoi chetverti XIX v.,” in I. E. Barenbaum (ed.), Istoriia russkogo chitatelia (Leningrad, 1973), vol. 1, 42-55.

3   According to Boris Mironov, “by the end of the eighteenth century the level of literacy among male peasants ranged from 1 to 12 percent (but no higher), among urban dwellers from 20 to 25 percent. Literacy was highest among the nobility (84 to 87 percent), followed by the merchants (over 75 percent), then the meshchanstvo (townspeople), workers (rabotnye), and peasants. Among the peasantry, serfs were the least literate. Women were far less literate than men.” B. N. Mironov, “The Development of Literacy in Russia and the USSR from the Tenth to the Twentieth Centuries,” History of Education Quarterly, vol. 31, 2 (Summer, 1991), 234. The first survey conducted in Russia on the degree of literacy among the population focused on the male population of the province of Saratov in 1844. Among the non-nobles, the survey shows the following literacy rates among the various classes: 42.1% of the merchant class, 34.4% of town-dwelling domestic servants (dvorovye liudi), 28.7% of townspeople (meshchane), 5.6% of peasants working on crown lands (udel’nye krest’iane), 2.7% of state peasants, and lastly 1.2% of peasants belonging to landowners. Cf. I. M. Bogdanov, Gramotnost’ i obrazovanie v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossi ii v SSSR (Moscow, 1964), 20.

4   On the use of French in Russian high society, cf. D. Offord, G. Argent, V. Rjéoutski, “French and Russian in Catherine’s Russia,” in D. Offord, L. Ryazanova-Clark, V. Rjéoutski, G. Argent (eds.), French and Russian in Imperial Russia. Language use Among the Russian Elite (Edinburgh, 2015), 25-44; D. Offord, G. Argent, V. Rjéoutski, The French Language in Russia. A Social, Political, Cultural, and Literary History (Amsterdam, 2018), 215-261.

5   Marker, Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of the Intellectual Life in Russia, 196.

6   As the literary critic Vissarion Belinskii writes: “in Russia there are very many people who have not read even a single French author, but who can speak and read French perfectly.” V. G. Belinskii, Sobranie sochinenii, 9 vols. (Moscow, 1976-1982), vol. 2, 282.

7   On the knowledge of French among the Russian clergy and merchants at the beginning of the nineteenth century see kislova, “How, Why, and What the Orthodox Clergy Read in Eighteenth-Century Russia,” vol. 1; D. L. Ransel, A Russian Merchant’s Tale: The Life and Adventures of Ivan Alekseevich Tolchenov (Bloomington, 2009), 10, 105.

8   M. N. Kufaev, Istoriia russkoi knigi v XIX veke (Moscow, 1927), 141.

9   On the factors that contributed most to the expansion of the Russian reading public, see Rebecchini, “The Success of the Russian novel in the 1830s and 1840s,” in the present volume. See also M. Beaven Remnek, The Expansion of Russian Reading Audiences, 1828-1848, PhD dissertation (Berkeley, 1999).

10   On the increase of the education in the Russian province see Smith-Peter “The struggle to create a regional public,” in the present volume. See also A. Besançon, Éducation et société en Russie dans le second tiers du XIXe siècle (Paris, La Haye, 1974).

11   Cf. Blium, “Massovoe chtenie v russkoi provintsii kontsa XVIII–pervoi chetverti XIX v.,” 37-57; Marker, Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of the Intellectual Life in Russia, 135-151, 177-180. On improvements to the Russian mail service, cf. J. Randolph, “Communication and Obligation: The Postal System of the Russian Empire, 1700-1850,” in S. Franklin, K. Bowers (eds.), Information and Empire: Mechanisms of Communication in Russia, 1600–1850 (Cambridge, 2017), 178-179.

12   N. Barsukov, Zhizn’ i trudy M. P. Pogodina (St. Petersburg, 1888-1910), vol. 6, 255-256.

13   By the term “novel” we mean what contemporary Russian catalogues labelled “roman,” i.e. fictional prose narratives published individually in one or more volumes and, in general, no shorter than 96 pages, or 3 folios. The length was indeed considered by contemporaries a distinctive feature of novels (cf. f.i. N. A. Polevoi, Ks. A. Polevoi, Literaturnaia kritika. Stat’i i retsenzii [Leningrad, 1990], 397; N. I. Nadezhdin, Literaturnaia kritika. Estetika [Moscow, 1972], 321). Following the definition of novel given by Ian Watt in The Rise of the Novel, we consider eighteenth-century lubok prose narrations to be romances and not novels.

14   See f.i. Golovina, “Belles-Lettres and the literary interests of middling landowners,” in the present volume.

15   See Rebecchini, “The success of the Russian novel,” in the present volume.

16   Cf. Kufaev, Istoriia russkoi knigi, 29. See different figures in V. V. Sipovskii, Iz istorii russkoi literatury XVIII v. Opyt statisticheskogo nabliudeniia (St. Petersburg, 1901), 30.

17   On this, cf. R. Baudin, “Normativnaia kritika i romannoe chtenie v Rossii serediny XVIII veka,” in D. Rebecchini, R. Vassena (eds.), Reading in Russia. Practices of Reading and Literary Communication. 1760-1930 (Milan, 2014), 39-58.

18   See Zorin, “A Reading revolution?” vol. 1. See also N. D. Kochetkova, Literatura russkogo sentimentalizma (Esteticheskie i khudozhestvennye iskaniia) (St. Petersburg, 1994).

19   Here we will consider only novels published as standalone first editions, not those published in journals (even if before 1834 it was quite unusual to see novels being serialized in Russian journals). By Russian novels, we mean prose narratives no shorter than 96 pages (3 printer’s sheets). Our figures also consider reprints or new editions of previously published foreign novels republished between 1801 and 1830. Our estimate considered the following catalogues: Rospis’ rossiiskim knigam dlia chteniia iz biblioteki Aleksandra Smirdina, sistematicheskim poriadkom raspolozhennaia (St. Petersburg, 1828); Pervoe priblavlenie k Rospisi rossiiskim knigam Smirdina (St. Petersburg, 1829); Vtoroe pribavlenie k Rospisi rossiiskim knigam (St. Petersburg, 1832).

20   In fact, reprints and print runs of traditional eighteenth-century Russian lubok romances are at variance with any assertions about the Russian reading public’s ostensible preference for foreign literature: a small number of lubok romances had far larger print runs and far more reprints than European novels did (see below).

21   [P. I. Bystrov], Sistematicheskii reestr russkim knigam s 1831 po 1846 (St. Petersburg, 1846). These figures do not include novels published in journals.

22   See Khitrova, “Reading and Readers of Poetry in the Golden Age,” in the present volume.

23   See D. Rebecchini, “Reading Novels at the Winter Palace under Nicholas I: From the Tsar to the Stokers”, Slavic Review, vol. 78, 4 (Winter, 2019), 965-985.

24   Marker, Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of the Intellectual Life in Russia, 120, 202. In Great Britain, between 1770-1790 and at the end of the 1820s, 80% of all novels came out anonymously. On the importance of anonymous novels in the British market, see J. Raven, “Gran Bretagna, 1750-1830,” in F. Moretti (ed.), Il romanzo (Torino, 2002), vol. 3, 321.

25   Cited in A. Tosi, Waiting for Pushkin. Russian Fiction in the Reign of Alexander I (1801-1825) (Amsterdam, New York, 2006), 37.

26   For example, in Aleksandr Smirdin’s library, in 1828, there were no fewer than 4 different rates based on the time elapsed from the publication of a work: one fee for readers who wanted a newly published book, and lower fees for those who were willing to wait one month, three months, or six months. See Rospis’ rossiiskim knigam dlia chteniia iz biblioteki Aleksandra Smirdina (St. Petersburg, 1828), XVII-XIX.

27   Randolph, “Communication and Obligation: The Postal System of the Russian Empire,” 178-179.

28   Ibid., 155.

29   Cf. Kufaev, Istoriia russkoi knigi, 112-113; Ch. A. Ruud, Fighting Words. Imperial Censorship and the Russian Press, 1804-1906, 2nd ed. (Toronto, Buffalo, London, 2009), 90.

30   Cf. V. D. Kuz’mina, Rytsarskii roman na Rusi (Moscow, 1964); G. Schaarschmidt, “The Lubok Novels: Russia’s Immortal Best Sellers,” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, 9, 3 (September 1982), 424-436; D. Gasperetti, The Rise of the Russian Novel: Carnival, Stylization, and Mockery of the West (DeKalb, 1998), 39-43; A. I. Reitblat, “Lubochnaia kniga i krest’ianskii chitatel’,” in Idem, Ob Bovy k Bal’montu i drugie raboty (Moscow, 2009), 146-168; A. I. Reitblat, “Lubochnaia literatura i fol’klor (k postanovke problem),” in Idem, Ob Bovy k Bal’montu i drugie raboty, 357-364.

31   On the work, cf. V. Shklovskii, Matvei Komarov: zhitel’ goroda Moskvy (Leningrad, 1929), 77-131.

32   Cf. Shklovskii, Matvei Komarov, 33-76; Ju. Streidter, Der Schelmenroman in Russland: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Russischen Romans vor Gogol’ (Berlin, 1961), 121-156; I. R. Titunik, “Matvei Komarov’s Van’ka Kain and Eighteenth-Century Russian Prose Fiction,” The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 18, 4 (Winter, 1974), 351-366.

33   Shklovskii, Matvei Komarov, 33-76; M. B. Pliukhanova, “Literaturnye i kul’turnye traditsii v formirovanii literaturno-istoricheskogo personazha (Van’ka Kain),” in Tipologiia literaturnykh vzaimodeistvii. Trudy po russkoi i slavianskoi filologii. Literaturovedenie (Tartu, 1983), 3-17.

34   K. N. Batiushkov, Sochineniia, 2 vols, (Moscow, 1989), vol. 1, 291.

35   G. Schaarschmidt, “The Lubok Novels: Russia’s Immortal Best Sellers,” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, vol. 9, 3 (September 1982), 428.

36   Cf. A. I. Reitblat, “Russkie ‘bestsellery’ pervoi poloviny XIX veka,” in Idem, Kak Pushkin vyshel v genii. Istoriko-sotsiologicheskie ocherki o knizhnoi kul’ture Pushkinskoi epokhi (Moscow, 2001), 196-199.

37   Shklovskii, Matvei Komarov, 129.

38   N. M. Karamzin, “On the Book Trade and Love of Reading in Russia,” in Idem, Selected Prose, trans. H. M. Nebel (Evanston, 1969), 187.

39 Ibidem., 187.

40   Cf. Iu. M. Lotman, “Ob odnom chitatel’skom vospriiatii ‘Bednoi Lizy’ N.M. Karamzina (K strukture massovogo soznaniia XVIII v.),” in Idem, Karamzin (St. Petersburg, 1997), 616-620; Cf. A. Zorine, A. Nemzer, “Les Paradoxes de la sentimentalité,” in A. Stroev, (ed.), Livre et lecture en Russie (Paris, 1995), 91-123.

41   Lotman, “Ob odnom chitatel’skom vospriiatii ‘Bednoi Lizy,’” 617.

42   See Zorin, “A reading revolution?,” vol. 1.

43   A subtle analysis of the emotional effect of sentimental novels on the nobleman Andrei Turgenev can be found in A. Zorin, Poiavlenie geroia. Iz istorii russkoi emotsional’noi kul’tury kontsa XVIII—nachala XIX veka (Moscow, 2016).

44   Lotman, “Ob odnom chitatel’skom vospriiatii ‘Bednoi Lizy,’” 618-620.

45   Cf. D. Rebecchini, “Introduction to Yuri Lotman, ‘On One Reader’s Understanding of N.M. Karamzin’s Poor Liza’: An Attempt to Conceptualize Popular Consciousness in the Eighteenth Century,” Lingua Franca, 2017, vol. 2 http://www.sharpweb.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Lotman_Intro.pdf

46   N. D. Kochetkova, Literatura russkogo sentimentalizma (St. Petersburg, 1994), 175.

47   See Kislova, “How, why, and what the orthodox clergy read in Eighteenth-Century Russia,” vol. 1.

48   See Zorin, “A reading revolution?,” vol 1

49   Karamzin, “On the Book Trade and Love of Reading in Russia,” 187-188.

50   On Neschastnyi Nikanor, cf. T. E. Avtukhovich, “Prikliucheniia avtora i ego knigi, ili zhizn’ i sud’ba Aleksandra Nazar’eva,” in Neschastnyi Nikanor, ili Prikliuchenie zhizni rossiiskogo dvorianina N. (St. Petersburg, 2016), 251-302.

51   Karamzin, “On the Book Trade and Love of Reading in Russia,” 188.

52   The main character of the novel by Jean-Pierre Florian, Gonzalve de Cordue (Paris, 1791), Russ. Transl. Gonzalv Korduanskii, ili Vozvrashchennaia Grenada (St. Petersburg, 1793).

53   The main character of the novel by Madame de Genlis, Les Chevaliers du Cygne ou la cour de Charlemagne (Hamburg, 1795) Russ. Transl. Rytsari Lebedia, ili Dvor Karla Velikogo (Moscow, 1821).

54   The main character of the novel by August Lafontaine, Fedor und Marie oder Treue bis zum Tode (Berlin, 1802) Russ. Transl. Kniaz’ D. i kniazhna M. ili vernaia liubov’ po smert’. Rossiiskoe proisshestvie (M., 1804).

55   V. Tomilin, “O romanakh”, Blagonamerennyi, 22, 7(1823), 15-16.

56   Karamzin, “On the Book Trade and the Love of Reading,” 190.

57   Ibid. On Kotzebue in Russia, see P. Drews, Die Rezeption deutscher Belletristik in Russland, 1750-1850 (Műnich, 2007), 35-37, 261-268.

58   Cf. Marker, Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of the Intellectual Life in Russia, 119-120, 202, 207; Iu. D. Levin (ed.), Istoriia russkoi perevodnoi khudozhestvennoi literatury. Drevniaia Rus’. XVIII vek. Proza (St. Petersburg, 1995), vol. 1, 222-223.

59   Cf. Levin (ed.), Istoriia russkoi perevodnoi, 217-220.

60   Ibid., 217-218.

61   Ibid., 222-223. At the same time, it must be noted how, as late as the first half of the nineteenth century, novels are listed by title and not by author in booksellers’ catalogues.

62   As regards England, Franco Moretti has calculated that every thirty years or so (that is, in the space of one generation of readers), a new canon of novels would be formed. Cf. F. Moretti, La letteratura vista da lontano (Torino, 2005), 23-32.

63   See f.i. “O razlichii mnenii otnositel’no romanov, ili Belyj perepel”, Damskij zhurnal, 4 (1823), 129-142.

64   See f.i. V. Tomilin, “O romanakh”, Blagonamerennyi, 22, 7(1823), 4-18.

65   Tomilin, “O romanakh”, 8.

66   Ibid., 18.

67   See Bowers, “The Gothic Novel Reader comes to Russia,” in the present volume.

68   See V. E. Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman v Rossii (Moscow, 2002), 116-117.

69   Cited in V. E. Vatsuro, “‘Polnochnyi Kolokol’ (Iz istorii massovogo chteniia v Rossii v pervoi treti XIXv.),” in Chtenie v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii (Moscow, 1995), 24. On the fact that Radcliffe reached her maximum popularity in 1806, see Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman v Rossii, 111.

70   L. N. Tolstoi, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 90 vols (Moscow, 1949), vol. 13, 75. On Petersburg’s high society ladies, see also Pushkin: “Born with the most irritable sensitivity, they read the eloquent tragedy of Racine coldly and cry over the mediocre novels of Auguste Lafontaine.” See A. S. Pushkin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 16 vols, (Moscow, Leningrad, 1949), vol. 11, 324.

71   Cited in Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 113.

72   Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 114.

73   On this, see Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 301-311.

74   Cited in Vatsuro, “Polnochnyi Kolokol,” 17.

75   See Bowers, “The Gothic Novel Reader Comes to Russia,” in the present volume

76   See f.i. M. A. Dmitriev, Melochi iz zapasa moei pamiati (Moscow, 1869), 48; E. A. Khvostova, Zapiski: 1812-1841 (Leningrad, 1928), 63.

77   See M. P. Morozova, “Biblioteka dvorian Bashmakovykh-Vereshchaginykh (XVIII–nachalo XIX v),” in XVIII vek. Sbornik (St. Petersburg, 1993), vol. 18, 351-363.

78   A. V. Selivanov, Materialy dlia istorii roda riazanskikh Selivanovykh (Riazan, 1915), III, 27, 32, 44-45, 47, cit. in Vatsuro, “Polnochnyi kolokol,” 6-7.

79   Cf. Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 129. The same datum also emerges from the subscription lists appearing in the Russian translations of Ducray-Duminil’s sentimental novels published between 1798 and 1800: in addition to a large majority of middle- and lower-rank nobles (VI-XIV class in the Table of Ranks), there were also members of the high nobility (titulovannye osoby) (6-9 %), as well as representatives of the merchant class (15-17%); cf. A. IU. Samarin, Chitatel’ v Rossii vo vtoroi polovine XVIII veka (Moscow, 2000), 41-44.

80   Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 71-74, 127.

81   Ibid., 74.

82   See Drews, Die Rezeption deutscher Belletristik in Russland, 34, 36, 38, 314, 321-323.

83   Cf. Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 328.

84   Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 332. The Russian translation indeed came from a French translation, in turn done from the English one by Lewis, and titled The Bravo of Venice. But if in the English translation Lewis featured as the translator, in the French one, and consequently also in the Russian one, he had become the author.

85   Cf. N. S. Sokhanskaia, “Avtobiografiia,” Russkoe obozrenie, 8 (1896), 466; J. Brooks, When Russia Learned to Read: Literacy and Popular Literature. 1861-1917 (Princeton N.J., 1985), 168-207.

86   Cit. in Vatsuro, “Polnochnyi Kolokol,” 24.

87   Pushkin also defines Cottin’s novels “family novels,” although today they are mostly classified by critics as sentimental novels as well; cf. H. Hoogenboom, “Sentimental Novels and Pushkin: European Literary Markets and Russian Readers,” Slavic Review, 74, 3 (Fall 2015), 565. On Lafontaine’s novels in Russia, see Drews, Die Rezeption deutscher Belletristik in Russland, 35, 271-273.

88   Cf. M. Lyons, Le triomphe du livre. Une histoire sociologique de la lecture dans la France du XIXè siècle (Paris, 1987), 107-110, 113.

89   The success of Madame Cottin’s Mathilde in 1812 is also testified by Mikhail Zagoskin in his novel Roslavlev, ili Russkie v 1812 (cf. M. N. Zagoskin, Istoricheskie romany (Moscow 1993), 276) and of course by Pushkin in Eugene Onegin.

90   Cf. Reitblat, “Russkie ‘bestsellery,’” 200; Hoogenboom, “Sentimental Novels and Pushkin,” 562-563.

91   Cf. Lyons, Le triomphe du livre, 85-87; Hoogenboom, “Sentimental Novels and Pushkin,” 562-563.

92   See A. Tosi, Waiting for Pushkin. Russian Fiction in the Reign of Alexander I (1801-1825) (Amsterdam, New York, 2006), 226-240.

93   Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 338.

94   Ibid.

95   Batiushkov, Sochineniia, vol. 1, 291.

96   Hoogenboom, “Sentimental Novels and Pushkin,” 554, 564-567.

97   A. Grigor’ev, Vospominaniia (Moscow, 1988), 80.

98   Ibid., 80-81.

99   Grigor’ev, Vospominaniia, 81. On the reception of Byron in Russia, see (among others) f.i. N. Diakonova, V. Vatsuro, “‘No Great Mind and Generous Heart Could Avoid Byronism’: Russia and Byron,” in R. A. Cardwell (ed.), The Reception of Byron in Europe (Oxford, 2008), vol. 2, 333-351.

100   Grigor’ev, Vospominaniia, 81.

101   Cf. M. Beaven Remnek, “‘A Larger Portion of the Public.’ Female Readers, Fiction, and the Periodical Press in the Reign of Nicholas I,” in B. T. Norton, I. M. Gheith (eds.), An Improper Profession: Women, Gender, and Journalism in Late Imperial Russia (London, 2001), 29, 41.

102   I. I. Dmitriev, K portretu M. N. Murav’eva (1803), in I. I. Dmitriev, Polnoe sobranie stikhotvorenii (Leningrad, 1967), 135; N. Polevoi, “O romanakh Viktora Giugo i voobshche o noveishikh romanakh,” in N. A. Polevoi, Ks. A. Polevoi, Literaturnaia kritika. Stat’i i retsenzii, 1825-1842 (Leningrad, 1990), 134. See also C. Kelly, “Educating Tat’yana: Manners, Motherhood and Moral Education (Vospitanie), 1760–1840,” in L. Edmondson (ed.), Gender in Russian History and Culture (New York, 2001), 1-28.

103   Karamzin, “On the Book Trade and Love of Reading in Russia,” 187.

104   Cfr. Beaven Remnek, “‘A Larger Portion of the Public,’” 35-36. See also O. E. Glagoleva, “Imaginary World: Reading in the Lives of Russian Provincial Noblewomen (1750-1825),” in W. Rosslyn (ed.), Women and Gender in 18th-Century Russia (Aldershot, 2003), 129-146.

105   See Bowers, “The Gothic Novel Reader comes to Russia,” in the present volume. See f.i. P. I. Makarov’s comment about Ann Radcliffe’s novels in Moskovskii Merkurii, 1803, I, 3, 218-219; Tomilin, “O romanakh”, 17. See also G. Hammarberg, “The First Russian Women’s Journals and the Construction of the Reader,” in W. Rosslyn, A. Tosi (eds.), Women in Russian Culture and Society, 1700-1825 (New York, 2007), 89.

106   Cited in Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 328.

107   Ibid., 346.

108   A. V. Nikitenko, Moia povest’ o samom sebe i o tom, ‘chemu svidetel’ v zhizni byl’: Zapiski i dnevnik (1804-1877), 2 vols. (St. Petersburg, 1904), vol. 1, 53.

109   Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 347.

110   Cf. Arkhiv Gosudarstvennogo Ermitazha (AGE), fond 1, opis’ 1, 1839, ed. 39 “Kniga dlia zapisyvaniia knig, vydavaemykh iz Ermitazhnoi biblioteki,” l. 26, l. 39, etc. (for Lafontaine’s novel Susanna); l. 40, l. 45, l. 75, etc. (for The Wife of the Bandit). On this, see Rebecchini, “Reading Novels at the Winter Palace under Nicholas I,” 981-984.

111   Cited in Vatsuro, Goticheskii roman, 342.

112   Cited in Beaven Remnek, The Expansion of Russian Reading Audiences, 330.

113   Cf. S. Gessen, Knigoizdatel’ Aleksandr Pushkin (Leningrd, 1930), 34-62.

114   Cf. Iu. D. Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” in Epokha romantizma. Iz istorii mezhdurnarodnykh sviazei russkoi literatury (Leningrad, 1975), 7-9.

115   Cf. M. Lyons, “Walter Scott et les lecteurs du romantisme français,” in Idem, Le triomphe du livre. Une histoire sociologique de la lecture dans la France du XIXè siècle (Paris, 1987), 135.

116   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 8.

117   S. B. Davis, “From Scotland to Russia via France. Scott, Defauconpret and Gogol,” Scottish Slavonic Review, 16 (1991), 26-27.

118   Cit. in Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 14.

119   Cf. “Imperatritsa Aleksandra Fedorovna v svoikh vospominaniiakh,” Russkaia Starina, vol. 88, 10 (1896), 59. On the influence of Walter Scott’s novels on the imperial couple, see Rebecchini, “Reading Novels at the Winter Palace,” 966-968.

120   Cf. A. O. Smirnova, Zapiski (St. Petersburg, 1895), vol. 1, 168.

121   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 11.

122   Ibid, 16, 34.

123   Ibid., 16.

124   Gessen, Knigoizdatel’ Aleksandr Pushkin, 21.

125   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 16.

126   Ibid., 15.

127   Ibid.

128   Ibid., 16-17.

129   Ibid., 17.

130   Dolinin, Istoriia odetaia v roman, 130-132; Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 14-15.

131   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 14.

132   Ibid., 14-15.

133   Ibid., 15. Shachavskoi here plays with the Scottish author’s name: the Russian skot means ‘livestock.’

134   M. Lyons, “Walter Scott et les lecteurs du romantisme français,” in Idem, Le triomphe du livre. Une histoire sociologique de la lecture dans la France du XIXè siècle (Paris, 1987), 139.

135   Cf. Rebecchini, “Reading novels at the Winter Palace: From the Tsar to the Stokers,” 967-968, 984-985; A. Grigor’ev, Vospominaniia, 76-77; Golovina, “Belles-Lettres and the literary interests of middling landowners,” in the present volume.

136   As Martyn Lyons wrote, “heroic values and material values are combined in a way that makes Scott an ideal author in a reflective post-revolutionary context.” See Lyons, “Walter Scott et les lecteurs du romantisme français,” 118.

137   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 12.

138   I. Ferris, “‘Before Our Eyes’: Romantic Historical Fiction and the Apparitions of Reading,” Representations, vol. 121, 1 (Winter 2013), 60-84. See also Lyons, “Walter Scott et les lecteurs du romantisme français,” 141-142.

139   F. Moretti, ‘‘Serious Century,’’ in F. Moretti (ed.), The Novel (Princeton, 2006), vol. 1, 376-377.

140   N. Frye, “Towards Defining an Age of Sensibility,” English Literary History, 23 (1956), 149.

141   Ferris, “‘Before Our Eyes’: Romantic Historical Fiction and the Apparitions of Reading,” 61.

142   Pushkin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, vol. 11, 244.

143   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 12.

144   Ibid., 12-13.

145   Ibid., 13.

146   Ibid.

147   Ibid.

148   Dolinin, Istoriia odetaia v roman, 129.

149   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 14.

150   Ibid.

151   Dolinin, Istoriia odetaia v roman, 123-124.

152   Ibid., 124.

153   A. Grigor’ev, Vospominaniia, 78, 79-80.

154   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 24-28.

155   Ibid.

156   Ibid., 18-19.

157   Ibid., 20.

158   Ibid.

159   Cf. Grigor’ev, Vospominaniia, 79; Rebecchini, “Reading Novels at the Winter Palace under Nicholas I: From the Tsar to the Stokers,” 985.

160   Cf. R. S. Wortman, The Scenarios of Power. Myth and Ceremony in Russian Monarchy (Princeton, 1995), vol. 1, 334-336; for Vorontsov Palace, see Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 23.

161   Levin, “Prizhiznennaia slava Val’tera Skotta v Rossii,” 23.

162   Dolinin, Istoriia odetaia v roman, 131.

163   On the ideologization of the Russian reading public see Rebecchini, “The success of the Russian novel” in the present volume

164   V. I. Kuleshov, Otechestvennye zapiski i literatura 40kh godov XIX v. (Moscow, 1958), 366.

165   See also Dolinin, Istoriia odetaia v roman, 262-272.

166   Grigor’ev, Vospominaniia, 77.

167   Ibid.

168   See Leibov-Vdovin, “What and how Russian pupils read in school” in the present volume. See also Dolinin, Istoriia odetaia v roman, 273-285, 291-296.

169   Belinskii, Sobranie sochinenii, vol. 8, 344

170Ustav o tsenzure 1828 goda, article § 80.

171   Ruud, Fighting Words, 81.

172   Ibid., 90.

173   A. V. Nikitenko, Dnevnik (Moscow, 1955), vol. 1, 140.

174   Kufaev, Istoriia russkoi knigi, 114-115.

175   Ruud, Fighting Words, 95, 254

176   Ibid., 90. Different data are reported by Mikhail Kufaev, who put imported foreign works as high as 700,000 by 1848 and 826,000 by 1849, which is roughly the same number as those published in Russia itself that same year. Cf. Kufaev, Istoriia russkoi knigi, 113.

177   Belinskii, Sobranie sochinenii, vol. 2, 281.

178   Offord, Argent, Rjéoutski, The French Language in Russia, 195-206, 215-253.

179   On this, cf. D. Rebecchini, Letture al Palazzo d’Inverno (1829-1855). La lettura come fatto sociale, in A. D’Amelia (ed.), Pietroburgo capitale della cultura russa (Salerno, 2004), 291-334; Rebecchini, “Reading Novels at the Winter Palace under Nicholas I: From the Tsar to the Stokers,” 976-980.

180   Particularly on the reading of court memoirs, cf. D. Rebekkini, “V.A. Zhukovskii i frantsuzskie memuary pri dvore Nikolaia I (1828-1837). Kontekst chteniia i ego interpretatsiia,” Pushkinskie chteniia v Tartu (Tartu, 2004), vol. 3, 229-253.

181   Cf. AGE, fond 2, opis’ XIVe, d. 12.

182   Letter from Gille to Warée from March 9, 1834 in AGE, fond 2, opis’ XIVzh, d. 22, part 1.

183   A. F. Tiutcheva, Pri dvore dvukh imperatorov. Vospominaniia. Dnevnik (Moscow, 1928), vol. 1, 95, 166.

184   Tiutcheva, Pri dvore dvukh imperatorov, vol. 2, 76-77.

185   Cf. K. A. Chekalov, “Rossiiskaia ‘misterimaniia’ 1840kh godov: paradoks vospriiatiia romana Ezhen Siu,” Izvestiia Rossiiskoi Akademii nauk. Seriia literatury i iazyka, 73, 6 (2014), 15-22.

186   A. O. Smirnova-Rosset, Dnevnik. Vospominaniia (Moscow, 1989), 11.

187   On the rhetoric of the Mysteries of Paris by E. Sue and its effect on French bourgeois and proletarian readers, cf. U. Eco, “Eugène Sue: il socialismo e la consolazione,” in Idem, Il superuomo di massa. Retorica e ideologia nel romanzo popolare (Milan, 1998), 27-67.

188   On reader reactions to Sue’s novel in France, see Jean-Pierre Galvan, Les mystères de Paris. Eugène Sue et ses lecteurs, 2 vols. (Paris, 1998). On Russian reactions, see f.i. D. A. Drashusova, “Vospominaniia (1842-1847),” Rossiiskii Arkhiv, novaia seria, 2004, vol. 13, 196, 202; P. M. Kovalevskii, “Vstrechi na zhiznennom puti,” in D. P. Grigorovich, Literaturnye vospominaniia (Leningrad, 1928), 308.

189   Tiutcheva, Pri dvore dvukh imperatorov, vol. 2, 180-181.

190   “Iz vospominanii baronessy M.P. Frederiks,” Istoricheskii Vestnik, vol. 71, 1 (1898), 70.

191   On the function of reading in the Protestant world, see in part I. F. Gilmont, Riforma protestante e lettura, in G. Cavallo, R. Chartier (eds.), Storia della lettura nel mondo occidentale (Bari, 1995), 243-275.

192   Smirnova-Rosset, Dnevnik. Vospominaniia, 238.

193   Tiutcheva, Pri dvore dvukh imperatorov, vol. 1, 157.

194   Tiutcheva, Pri dvore dvukh imperatorov, vol. 1, 128.

195   Smirnova-Rosset, Dnevnik. Vospominaniia, 235-236.

196   Ibid.

197   Twenty-nine George Sand works were translated in journals and eleven published as books. Between 1839 and 1848 Notes of the Fatherland published translations of three novels by Eugène Sue, six by Alexandre Dumas, seven by Charles de Bernard, eight by Dickens and fourteen by George Sand, whereas nothing by Balzac or Paul de Kock saw publication. Cfr. F. Genevray, George Sand et ses contemporains russe. Audience, échos, réécritures (Paris, 2000), 32-35.

198   F. M. Dostoevskii, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 30 vols, (Leningrad, 1981), vol. 23, 33.

199   I. Aizenshtok, “Frantsuzskie pisateli v otsenkakh tsarskoi tsenzury,” Literaturne nasledstvo, vol. 33-34 (Moscow, 1937), 807.

200   Ibid.

201   On the censors’ attitude to George Sand’s novels, cf. Aizenshtok, “Frantsuzskie pisateli v otsenkakh tsarskoi tsenzury,” 807-816; Genevray, George Sand et ses contemporains russe, 38-46.

202   See f.i. P. N. Tatlina, “Vospominaniia (1812-1854),” Russkii arkhiv, 10 (1899), 220-221.

203   Cf. Beaven Remnek, “‘A Larger Portion of the Public,’” 43-44.

204   Between 1832 and 1842 alone, no fewer than twenty-six Paul de Kock novels were translated and published in Russian, without counting the translations that came out in journals. See [I. P. Bystrov], Sistematicheskii reestr russkim knigam s 1831 po 1846 (St. Petersburg, 1846), 231-237.

205   Belinskii, Sobranie sochinenii (Moscow, 1977), vol. 2, 338-339.

206   Nikitenko, Dnevnik, vol. 1, 140.

207   Dostoevskii, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, vol. 23, 32, 34.

208   Nikitenko, Dnevnik, vol. 1, 183.

209   Ibid., 307

210   N. G. Patrushcheva, I. P. Fut, Tsirkuliary tsenzurnogo vedomstva Rossiiskoi imperii. Sbornik dokumentov (St. Petersburg, 2016), 73-74.

211   Ibid., p. 74.

212   Ruud, Fighting Words, 90.

213   Patrushcheva, Fut, Tsirkuliary tsenzurnogo vedomstva, 85.

214   “His Majesty the Emperor ordered that all books imported into the Russian Empire should be subjected by Customs to a 5 silver kopeck tariff for each individual volume […] Novels and novellas [povesti] are subject to an extra 5 silver kopeck tariff.” Order by the Tsar of 25.6.1848 in AGE, f. 2, op. XIV a, 1848, d. 19, l. 1-1ob. See also Kufaev, Istoriia russkoi knigi, 116.

215   Ruud, Fighting Words, 90.

216   Kufaev, Istoriia russkoi knigi, 116.

Auteur

Damiano Rebecchini is Professor of Russian Literature at Università degli Studi di Milano. His research interests include Russian literature of the nineteenth century, the Court Culture, and the history of reading in Russia. He is the author of Il business della Storia. Il 1812 e il romanzo russo della prima metà dell’Ottocento fra ideologia e mercato (Salerno, 2016) and co-editor of the volume Reading in Russia. Practices of reading and literary communication, 1760-1930 (Milan, 2014). In recent years, his research has been focusing on the education of Tsar Alexander II. He is also the translator of Dostoevskii’s Crime and Punishment (Milan, Feltrinelli, 2013) and Gogol’s Petersburg Tales (Milan, Feltrinelli, 2020).

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