Dostoevsky’s views on punishment are usually examined through the prism of his Christian commitments. For some, this means an orientation toward mercy; for others, an affirmation of suffering as a path to redemption. Anna Schur incorporates sources from philosophy, criminology, psychology, and history to argue that Dostoevsky’s thinking about punishment was shaped not only by his Christian ethics but also by the debates on penal theory and practice unfolding during his lifetime.
As Dostoevsky attempts to balance the various ethical and cultural imperatives, he displays ambivalence both about punishment and about mercy. This ambivalence, Schur argues, is further complicated by what Dostoevsky sees as the unfathomable quality of the self, which hinders every attempt to match crimes with punishments. The one certainty he holds is that a proper response to wrongdoing must include a concern for the wrongdoer’s moral improvement.
An illuminating account of Russia’s attempts—and failures—to achieve great power status in Asia.
Since Peter the Great, Russian leaders have been lured by opportunity to the East. Under the tsars, Russians colonized Alaska, California, and Hawaii. The Trans-Siberian Railway linked Moscow to Vladivostok. And Stalin looked to Asia as a sphere of influence, hospitable to the spread of Soviet Communism. In Asia and the Pacific lay territory, markets, security, and glory.
But all these expansionist dreams amounted to little. In We Shall Be Masters, Chris Miller explores why, arguing that Russia’s ambitions have repeatedly outstripped its capacity. With the core of the nation concentrated thousands of miles away in the European borderlands, Russia’s would-be pioneers have always struggled to project power into Asia and to maintain public and elite interest in their far-flung pursuits. Even when the wider population professed faith in Asia’s promise, few Russians were willing to pay the steep price. Among leaders, too, dreams of empire have always been tempered by fears of cost. Most of Russia’s pivots to Asia have therefore been halfhearted and fleeting.
Today the Kremlin talks up the importance of “strategic partnership” with Xi Jinping’s China, and Vladimir Putin’s government is at pains to emphasize Russian activities across Eurasia. But while distance is covered with relative ease in the age of air travel and digital communication, the East remains far off in the ways that matter most. Miller finds that Russia’s Asian dreams are still restrained by the country’s firm rooting in Europe.
The world’s largest exporter of oil is facing mounting problems that could send shock waves through every major economy. Gustafson provides an authoritative account of the Russian oil industry from the last years of communism to its uncertain future. The stakes extend beyond global energy security to include the threat of a destabilized Russia.
Late Imperial Russia's revolution in literacy touched nearly every aspect of daily life and culture, from social mobility and national identity to the sensibilities and projects of the country's greatest writers. Within a few decades, a ragtag assembly of semi-educated authors, publishers, and distributors supplanted an oral tradition of songs and folktales with a language of popular imagination suitable for millions of new readers of common origins eager for entertainment and information. When Russia Learned to Read tells the story of this profound transformation of culture, custom, and belief.
With a new introduction that underscores its relevance to a post-Soviet Russia, When Russia Learned to Read addresses the question of Russia's common heritage with the liberal democratic market societies of Western Europe and the United States. This prize-winning book also exposes the unsuspected complexities of a mass culture little known and less understood in the West. Jeffrey Brooks brings out the characteristically Russian aspect of the nation's popular writing as he ranges through chapbooks, detective stories, newspaper serials, and women's fiction, tracing the emergence of secular, rational, and cosmopolitan values along with newly minted notions of individual initiative and talent. He shows how crude popular tales and serials of the era find their echoes in the literary themes of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and other great Russian writers, as well as in the current renaissance of Russian detective stories and thrillers.
Many people are familiar with American Commodore Matthew Perry’s expedition to open trade relations with Japan in the early 1850s. Less well known is that on the heels of the Perry squadron followed a Russian expedition secretly on the same mission. Serving as secretary to the naval commander was novelist Ivan Goncharov, who turned his impressions into a book, The Frigate Pallada, which became a bestseller in imperial Russia. In A World of Empires, Edyta Bojanowska uses Goncharov’s fascinating travelogue as a window onto global imperial history in the mid-nineteenth century.
Reflecting on encounters in southern Africa’s Cape Colony, Dutch Java, Spanish Manila, Japan, and the British ports of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, Goncharov offers keen observations on imperial expansion, cooperation, and competition. Britain’s global ascendancy leaves him in equal measures awed and resentful. In Southeast Asia, he recognizes an increasingly interlocking world in the vibrant trading hubs whose networks encircle the globe. Traveling overland back home, Goncharov presents Russia’s colonizing rule in Siberia as a positive imperial model, contrasted with Western ones.
Slow to be integrated into the standard narrative on European imperialism, Russia emerges here as an increasingly assertive empire, eager to position itself on the world stage among its American and European rivals and fully conversant with the ideologies of civilizing mission and race. Goncharov’s gripping narrative offers a unique eyewitness account of empire in action, in which Bojanowska finds both a zeal to emulate European powers and a determination to define Russia against them.
Russian rural women have been depicted as victims of oppressive patriarchy, celebrated as symbols of inherent female strength, and extolled as the original source of a great world culture. Throughout the years of collectivization, industrialization, and World War II, women played major roles in the evolution of the Russian village. But how do they see themselves? What do their stories, songs, and customs reveal about their values, desires, and motivations?
Based upon nearly three decades of fieldwork, from 1983 to 2010, The Worlds of Russian Rural Women follows three generations of Russian women and shows how they alternately preserve, discard, and rework the cultural traditions of their forebears to suit changing needs and self-conceptions. In a major contribution to the study of folklore, Laura J. Olson and Svetlana Adonyeva document the ways that women’s tales of traditional practices associated with marriage, childbirth, and death reflect both upholding and transgression of social norms. Their romance songs, satirical ditties, and healing and harmful magic reveal the complexity of power relations in the Russian villages.
Written in Blood offers a fundamentally new interpretation of the emergence of modern terrorism, arguing that it formed in the Russian literary imagination well before any shot was fired or bomb exploded. In March 1881, Russia stunned the world when a small band of revolutionaries calling themselves "terrorists" assassinated the Tsar-Liberator, Alexander II. Horrified Russians blamed the influence of European political and social ideas, while shocked Europeans perceived something new and distinctly Russian in a strategy of political violence that became known the world over as "terrorism" or "the Russian method."
Lynn Ellen Patyk contends that the prototype for the terrorist was the Russian writer, whose seditious word was interpreted as an audacious deed—and a violent assault on autocratic authority. The interplay and interchangeability of word and deed, Patyk argues, laid the semiotic groundwork for the symbolic act of violence at the center of revolutionary terrorism. While demonstrating how literary culture fostered the ethos, pathos, and image of the revolutionary terrorist and terrorism, she spotlights Fyodor Dostoevsky and his "terrorism trilogy"—Crime and Punishment (1866), Demons (1870–73), and The Brothers Karamazov (1878–80)—as novels that uniquely illuminate terrorism's methods and trajectory. Deftly combining riveting historical narrative with penetrating literary analysis of major and minor works, Patyk's groundbreaking book reveals the power of the word to spawn deeds and the power of literature to usher new realities into the world.