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Reading Russian Fortunes

Reading Russian Fortunes
Print Culture, Gender and Divination in Russia from 1765


Part of Cambridge Studies in Russian Literature

  • Date Published: June 1998
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521581233

£ 77.00

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About the Authors
  • Reading Russian Fortunes examines the huge popularity and cultural impact of fortune-telling among urban and literate Russians from the eighteenth century to the present. Based partly on a study of the numerous editions of little fortune-telling books, especially those devoted to dream interpretation, it documents and analyses the social history of fortune-telling in terms of class and gender, at the same time considering the function of both amateur and professional fortune-telling in a literate modernizing society. Chapters are devoted to professional fortune-tellers and their clients, and to the publishers of the books. An analysis of the relationship between urban fortune-telling and traditional oral culture, where divination played a very significant role, leads on to a discussion of the underlying reasons for the persistence of fortune-telling in modern Russian society.

    • First full-length study of Russian fortune-telling, a cultural phenomenon still hugely important in Russian society at all levels
    • New insight into the relationship between elite and popular culture, and between print-based popular culture and traditional oral beliefs
    • Examination of the role of women in fortune-telling
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… this is a book of broad scholarship, albeit very readable and with a good deal of humour, which should be read not only by Russian specialists, but by anyone interested in the wider study of European culture. It is an original book on a largely unexplored topic, well researched and well written, which has much to offer social and cultural historians, literary historians, and perhaps even anthropologists.' Journal of European Studies

    '… the book has many merits, as well as a high level of scholarship. … Most importantly, this monograph provides a useful compendium and discussion of information on a neglected subject which broadens our understanding of pre-revolutionary Russian culture.' Modern Language Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 1998
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521581233
    • length: 266 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Dreambooks and other fortune-telling guides
    2. Divination in Russian traditional culture
    3. Readers and detractors
    4. Printers and publishers
    5. Women, men and domestic fortune-telling
    6. Fortune-tellers and their clientele
    7. Sages and prophets
    8. Disappearance and revival

  • Author

    Faith Wigzell, University of London

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