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Portrait of a Russian Province: Economy, Society and Civilization in Nineteenth-Century Nizhnii Novgorod (Paperback)
  • Portrait of a Russian Province: Economy, Society and Civilization in Nineteenth-Century Nizhnii Novgorod (Paperback)
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Portrait of a Russian Province: Economy, Society and Civilization in Nineteenth-Century Nizhnii Novgorod (Paperback)

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£36.50
Paperback 448 Pages / Published: 28/10/2011
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Several stark premises have long framed our approach to Russian history. It was generally assumed that Russia had always laboured under a highly centralised and autocratic imperial state. The responsibility for this lamentable state of affairs was ultimately assigned to the profoundly agrarian character of Russian society. The countryside, with the overwhelming majority of the nation's population, was considered a harsh world of cruel landowners and ignorant peasants, and a strong hand was required for such a crude society.

A number of significant conclusions flowed from this understanding. Deep and abiding social divisions obstructed the evolution of modernity, as experienced "naturally" in other parts of Europe, so of course there was no Reformation, no Enlightenment, and little capitalism. And since only despotism could contain these volatile social forces, it followed that the 1917 Revolution was an inevitable explosion resulting from these in- tolerable contradictions-and so too were the blood-soaked realities of the Soviet regime that followed. In short, the sheer immensity of its provincial backwardness could ex- plain almost everything backward or terrible about the course of Russian history.

This book shatters these preconceptions. Through her close study of the province of Nizhnii Novgorod in the nineteenth century, Catherine Evtuhov demonstrates how nearly everything we thought we knew about the dynamics of Russian society was wrong. Instead of peasants ground down by poverty and ignorance, we find skilled farmers, talented artisans and craftsmen, and enterprising trades people. Instead of a centrally administered state, we discover effective and participatory local government in abundance. Instead of pervasive ignorance we are shown a lively cultural scene and a thriving middle class. In short, instead of a defining Russian exceptionalism, we find a world recognisable to any historian of nineteenth-century Europe.

Drawing on a wide range of Russian social, environmental, economic, cultural, and intellectual history, and synthesising it with deep archival research of the Nizhnii Novgorod province, Evtuhov overturns our simplistic view of the Russian past. Rooted in, but going well beyond provincial affairs, her book challenges us with an entirely new perspective on Russia's historical trajectory.

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
ISBN: 9780822961710
Number of pages: 448
Weight: 491 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"A monumental piece of work in every respect: scholarship, ideas, style, and innovation. The impact of the book as a whole is enormous--I have never read anything about nineteenth-century Russia as interesting and original as this."
--Richard Stites


"An astonishing and fascinating discovery of life in a Russian province, a world where all was open and lively, and the future full of possibilities. "Portrait of a Russian Province" deeply renews our knowledge of a world that was to be completely shattered a few years later. Catherine Evtuhov writes with passion, not only for history, but for Russia itself."
--Alain Blum, ecole des Hautes etudes en Sciences Sociales


"Inspired by Geertz's 'thick description' and Braudel's 'histoire totale, ' Evtuhov delves deeply and broadly into the many interlocking spheres of provincial life--from environment, agriculture, and industry to administration, religion, and intellectual life--to show us what made nineteenth-century Russia tick."
--Robert Geraci, University of Virginia


"Deserves the attention of anyone interested in pre-revolutionary Russia. Whether it weakens the dominance of the 'glass half empty' school will depend on the results of a regional turn in Russian historiography to which it makes an early and distinguished contribution."

"--Times Literary Supplement"


"Evtuhov, like many scholars of imperial Russia, makes no simple assumptions regarding Russia's place within the European story. Her deeply researched and cogently argued account of postreform Nizhnii Novgorod is an excellent example of this new day in imperial Russian history. . . . A model for historians embarking on social history projects in a post-Cold War world."

"--Slavic Review"


"A landmark book in the emerging field of Russian provincial history, which takes the provinces seriously both as a place and an idea."

"--The NEP Era"


Deserves the attention of anyone interested in pre-revolutionary Russia. Whether it weakens the dominance of the glass half empty school will depend on the results of a regional turn in Russian historiography to which it makes an early and distinguished contribution.

" Times Literary Supplement""


Evtuhov, like many scholars of imperial Russia, makes no simple assumptions regarding Russia s place within the European story. Her deeply researched and cogently argued account of postreform Nizhnii Novgorod is an excellent example of this new day in imperial Russian history. . . . A model for historians embarking on social history projects in a post-Cold War world.

" Slavic Review""


A landmark book in the emerging field of Russian provincial history, which takes the provinces seriously both as a place and an idea.

" The NEP Era""


"Evtuhov has given us a rich and detailed portrait of Nizhnii Novgorod province in the nineteenth century. In painting this portrait Evtuhov hopes both to give the reader a sense of what it was like to live in provincial Russia and illuminate the emergence of a local consciousness that was most coherently articulated as an idea of province . Her real purpose, though, is to place provincialism into the center of historians analysis of Imperial Russia, alongside our categories of class and soslovie . This is a welcome and long-overdue argument.
" The Russian Review""


Deserves the attention of anyone interested in pre-revolutionary Russia. Whether it weakens the dominance of the glass half empty school will depend on the results of a regional turn in Russian historiography to which it makes an early and distinguished contribution.

Times Literary Supplement

"

Evtuhov, like many scholars of imperial Russia, makes no simple assumptions regarding Russia s place within the European story. Her deeply researched and cogently argued account of postreform Nizhnii Novgorod is an excellent example of this new day in imperial Russian history. . . . A model for historians embarking on social history projects in a post-Cold War world.

Slavic Review

"

A landmark book in the emerging field of Russian provincial history, which takes the provinces seriously both as a place and an idea.

The NEP Era

"
Groundbreaking . . . With impressive research, Evtuhov s conceptually brilliant work brings prerevolutionary Nizhnii Novgorod province to life. American Historical Review
"
A monumental piece of work in every respect: scholarship, ideas, style, and innovation. The impact of the book as a whole is enormous I have never read anything about nineteenth-century Russia as interesting and original as this.
Richard Stites"
An astonishing and fascinating discovery of life in a Russian province, a world where all was open and lively, and the future full of possibilities. Portrait of a Russian Province deeply renews our knowledge of a world that was to be completely shattered a few years later. Catherine Evtuhov writes with passion, not only for history, but for Russia itself.
Alain Blum, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales"
Inspired by Geertz s thick description and Braudel s histoire totale, Evtuhov delves deeply and broadly into the many interlocking spheres of provincial life from environment, agriculture, and industry to administration, religion, and intellectual life to show us what made nineteenth-century Russia tick.
Robert Geraci, University of Virginia"

"Deserves the attention of anyone interested in pre-revolutionary Russia. Whether it weakens the dominance of the 'glass half empty' school will depend on the results of a regional turn in Russian historiography to which it makes an early and distinguished contribution."

--Times Literary Supplement


"Evtuhov, like many scholars of imperial Russia, makes no simple assumptions regarding Russia's place within the European story. Her deeply researched and cogently argued account of postreform Nizhnii Novgorod is an excellent example of this new day in imperial Russian history. . . . A model for historians embarking on social history projects in a post-Cold War world."

--Slavic Review


"A landmark book in the emerging field of Russian provincial history, which takes the provinces seriously both as a place and an idea."

--The NEP Era


"Evtuhov has given us a rich and detailed portrait of Nizhnii Novgorod province in the nineteenth century. In painting this portrait Evtuhov hopes both to give the reader a sense of what it was like to live in provincial Russia and illuminate 'the emergence of a local consciousness that was most coherently articulated as an 'idea of province'. Her real purpose, though, is to place provincialism into the center of historians' analysis of Imperial Russia, alongside our categories of class and 'soslovie'. This is a welcome and long-overdue argument."
--The Russian Review


"A monumental piece of work in every respect: scholarship, ideas, style, and innovation. The impact of the book as a whole is enormous--I have never read anything about nineteenth-century Russia as interesting and original as this."
--Richard Stites
"An astonishing and fascinating discovery of life in a Russian province, a world where all was open and lively, and the future full of possibilities. Portrait of a Russian Province deeply renews our knowledge of a world that was to be completely shattered a few years later. Catherine Evtuhov writes with passion, not only for history, but for Russia itself."
--Alain Blum, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales
"Inspired by Geertz's 'thick description' and Braudel's 'histoire totale, ' Evtuhov delves deeply and broadly into the many interlocking spheres of provincial life--from environment, agriculture, and industry to administration, religion, and intellectual life--to show us what made nineteenth-century Russia tick."
--Robert Geraci, University of Virginia

-Deserves the attention of anyone interested in pre-revolutionary Russia. Whether it weakens the dominance of the 'glass half empty' school will depend on the results of a regional turn in Russian historiography to which it makes an early and distinguished contribution.-

--Times Literary Supplement


-Evtuhov, like many scholars of imperial Russia, makes no simple assumptions regarding Russia's place within the European story. Her deeply researched and cogently argued account of postreform Nizhnii Novgorod is an excellent example of this new day in imperial Russian history. . . . A model for historians embarking on social history projects in a post-Cold War world.-

--Slavic Review


-A landmark book in the emerging field of Russian provincial history, which takes the provinces seriously both as a place and an idea.-

--The NEP Era


-Evtuhov has given us a rich and detailed portrait of Nizhnii Novgorod province in the nineteenth century. In painting this portrait Evtuhov hopes both to give the reader a sense of what it was like to live in provincial Russia and illuminate 'the emergence of a local consciousness that was most coherently articulated as an 'idea of province'. Her real purpose, though, is to place provincialism into the center of historians' analysis of Imperial Russia, alongside our categories of class and 'soslovie'. This is a welcome and long-overdue argument.-
--The Russian Review


"Groundbreaking . . . With impressive research, Evtuhov's conceptually brilliant work brings prerevolutionary Nizhnii Novgorod province to life."--American Historical Review

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