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Castration and the Heavenly Kingdom: A Russian Folktale Hardcover – November, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

"...and there were some eunuchs which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs, which were made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of Heaven's sake..." (Matthew 19:12, KJV). From this biblical passage sprang a tiny religious sect begun in late 18th-century Russia and lasting into the 1930s. Just as the Gospels say that "if an eye offend you, pluck it out," so the Skoptsy ("the self-castrated") avoided sexual temptation by removing all of the male genitalia and mutilating the female genitalia and breasts. At its zenith, the sect reached 100,000 to 300,000 followers, with about half of the sect so castrated. Engelstein (history, Princeton) here intends to "make these puzzling believers comprehensible in relation to the culture from which they emerged." While she adequately describes the sect and the rather gruesome self-castration practices by males and females, the perspective of history is missing. As recreational reading, this book plods along in academic prose, and as academic literature it has little relevance except for tabloid interest. Recommended for specialized Russian history collections.AHarry V. Willems, Southeast Kansas Lib. System, Iola
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"...an eloquently written study..." -- (Journal of Modern History, Vol. 73, No. 3, September 2001)

"Engelstein's interpretation of the Skoptsy phenomenon is intellectually evocative but hardly exhaustive. . . " -- (H-Net Reviews. June, 2000)

"Recommended for specialized Russian history collections." -- (Library Journal)

"[A] masterful and engaging history of the Skoptsy, the strangest Russian sectarian group in the modern era...." -- (Church History, Vol. 69, No. 4. December 2000)

"[S]cholarly and unsensational...Ms. Engelstein presents us with some remarkable pictures." -- (The New York Review)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (November 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801436761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801436765
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,264,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Winarchick on January 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well written book about a different culture with different religious beliefs and practices. Extremely educational and enlightening. Highly recommended. Thanks.
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