RGWR V9: Biographical Itineraries, Individual Experiences, Autobiographical Reflections

Korine Amacher et al.

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Product Overview

This volume investigates how the revolutionary events of 1917–21 shaped biographies both in Russia and Western Europe and how people tried to make sense of the political developments during these years in self-testimonies like diaries and memoirs. What was the impact of individuals on the course of the revolution? What do we know about the personal experiences during 1917 of revolutionary activists, victims, and bystanders? What are the specific features of autobiographical texts and ego-documents from the time of Russia’s Great War and Revolution? The essays of this volume examine a plurality of stories, perceptions, and interpretations. They analyze the trajectories of men and women with very different origins and social backgrounds. Among them are members of the “old elite” who personally experienced the Russian Revolution of 1917 and were forced into exile after the victory of the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution and the Civil War. Moreover, in this volume protagonists who actively supported the revolution and “ordinary people” who neither belonged to the old elite nor were politically committed stand in focus. Finally, the construction of revolutionary narratives and memories is addressed. The case studies presented here allow us to critically evaluate established master narratives about the Russian Revolution and the Civil War. They also enable us to point out the contrast between historical caesuras and the continuity of personal lives, to explore geographical mobility and developments beyond the political centers, to give a voice to historically marginal actors, and to juxtapose our concept of “history” with the many-voiced chorus of individual experiences.


Table of Contents



Korine Amacher and Frithjof Benjamin Schenk, Introduction

Adele Lindenmeyr, “Common Sense Vanishes in Revolutionary Times”: Sof´ia Panina and Ariadna Tyrkova-Williams Reflect on 1917

Henning Lautenschläger, Too Busy for Nostalgia? Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii’s Professional Life and Autobiographical Publications after the Revolution (1917–44)

Fabian Baumann, Dragged into the Whirlwind: The Shul´gin Family, Kievlianin, and Kiev’s Russian Nationalist Movement in 1917

Frithjof Benjamin Schenk, “I Am Too Bewildered to Understand Anything These Days”: Members of the Old Elite Try to Make Sense of the Russian Revolutions

Christopher Read, The Kurbatikha Estate: Revolution in One Manor. Mature Reflections on Childhood Experience

Sophie Cœuré, Two Women Gaining Power Through the October Revolution: Aleksandra Kollontai and Suzanne Girault

Korine Amacher, Experiences of War and Revolution: Vladimir Socoline’s Long Road to Damascus

Anthony J. Heywood, Facing the Rubicon: Analyzing the Impact of the Russian Revolution on an Individual Life

Marina Yu. Sorokina, Roman Iakobson and the Russian Revolution

Igor Narsky and Aleksandr Fokin, “We’re Growing Accustomed to Heaven on Earth”: Diaries as a Means of Self-Preservation, and a Testimony to Means of Survival, in Revolutionary Russia

Julia Herzberg, An Event without Importance? Peasant Autobiographical Writing as Media of the 1917 October Revolution

Alexis Pogorelskin, Kamenev in Conflict with Lenin and Trotskii: The Perils of Revolutionary Biography

Éric Aunoble, Polish Leftists in the Russian Revolution in Ukraine: The Difficult Construction of a Soviet Memory

Alexander V. Reznik, Lev Trotskii’s Experiences of Autobiography: My Life and Its Antecedents

Pierre Boutonnet, Volin, a Revolutionary in Exile: The Function of His Personal Testimony