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The Petrine Revolution in Russian Culture
Harvard University Press, 2004
Cloth: 978-0-674-01316-2 | eISBN: 978-0-674-02996-5
Library of Congress Classification DK133.C74 2004
Dewey Decimal Classification 947.05


The reforms initiated by Peter the Great transformed Russia not only into a European power, but into a European culture--a shift, argues James Cracraft, that was nothing less than revolutionary. The author of seminal works on visual culture in the Petrine era, Cracraft now turns his attention to the changes that occurred in Russian verbal culture.

The forceful institutionalization of the tsar's reforms--the establishment of a navy, modernization of the army, restructuring of the government, introduction of new arts and sciences--had an enormous impact on language. Cracraft details the transmission to Russia of contemporary European naval, military, bureaucratic, legal, scientific, and literary norms and their corresponding lexical and other linguistic effects. This crucial first stage in the development of a "modern" verbal culture in Russia saw the translation and publication of a wholly unprecedented number of textbooks and treatises; the establishment of new printing presses and the introduction of a new alphabet; the compilation, for the first time, of grammars and dictionaries of Russian; and the initial standardization, in consequence, of the modern Russian literary language. Peter's creation of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, the chief agency advancing these reforms, is also highlighted.

In the conclusion to his masterwork, Cracraft deftly pulls together the Petrine reforms in verbal and visual culture to portray a revolution that would have dramatic consequences for Russia, and for the world.

Table of Contents:

Note on Dates and Transliteration

1. Introduction
Language, Culture, Modernity
Russian before Peter

2. The Nautical Turn
Russia in Maritime Europe
The Naval Statute of 1720
Other Nautical Texts

3. Military Modernization
Military Revolutions: Europe to Russia
The Military Statute of 1716
Textbooks and Schools

4. Bureaucratic Revolution
Advent of the Modern European State
The Petrine State
The General Regulation of 1720
Regulations and Justifications

5. Science and Literature
Geometry, Geography, History
Eloquence, Theology, Philosophy
The Academy

6. The Language Question
The Print Revolution in Russia
Lexical Proliferation
Dictionaries and Grammars
Russian after Peter

7. Conclusion
The Petrine Revolution in Russia
The Persistence of Muscovy

Appendix I: Texts
Appendix II: Words

No previous author has attempted to document the changes in the Russian language during Peter the Great's reign by setting such a wide range of texts in historical context -- with full reference to the European background -- in a discussion accessible to non-specialists. James Cracraft extends the definition of literature beyond belles lettres and private writings, in which the Petrine era is relatively poor, to 'verbal culture,' in which it is rich, thereby offering a much wider range of material from a crucial age of reform and allowing exploration of such phenomena as the vocabulary of political power. In no other work in print in English can one find such detailed expositions of the publishing history and contents of such key texts as the Naval Statute and Military Statutes. Cracraft's judicious interpretation will be invaluable to serious students of Russian history. This is a work of immense erudition and a major contribution to scholarship.
--Lindsey Hughes, University College London

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