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Solovyovo: The Story of Memory in a Russian Village (Woodrow Wilson Center Press) Paperback – December 13, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0253218018 ISBN-10: 0253218012

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Solovyovo: The Story of Memory in a Russian Village (Woodrow Wilson Center Press) + The Worlds of Russian Village Women: Tradition, Transgression, Compromise + Slavic Folklore: A Handbook (Greenwood Folklore Handbooks)
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Product Details

  • Series: Woodrow Wilson Center Press
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (December 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253218012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253218018
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,455,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"What is the opposite of ivory tower? The black earth of Solovyovo, perhaps? Margaret Paxson, a brilliant anthropologist, has gotten her hands—and a lot else besides—dirty in the mud of a Russian village, to the enormous benefit of the readers of her new book. Paxson makes a huge contribution to our knowledge of the Russian village, an ancient human institution whose uniqueness has survived wars and revolutions for centuries. One's sense of Russia will never be quite the same after reading her book." —Robert G. Kaiser, author of Russia: The People and the Power, and Why Gorbachev Happened



"... would be of great interest to scholars from a wide range of discipines—anthropology, cultural studies, history, and political science. It would be of great value for scholars of Russia and those working on other settings, who are bound to draw rich insight and material for comparative analysis from this important book" —Asia Studies 59:7 (rec'd 1/08)



Woodrow Wilson Center Press has published a new book, Solovyovo: The Story of Memory in a Russian Village by Margaret Paxson, senior associate of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute. It is copublished with Indiana University Press.

Solovyovo is a small village beside a reed-lined lake in the Russian north, where a cluster of farmers has lived for centuries-—in the time of tsars and feudal landlords; Bolsheviks and civil wars; collectivization and socialism; perestroika and open markets. Based on extensive anthropological fieldwork in that single village, this volume shows how villagers configure, transmit, and enact social memory through narrative genres, religious practice, social organization, commemoration, and the symbolism of space.

Margaret Paxson relates present-day beliefs, rituals, and practices to the remembered traditions articulated by her informants. She brings to life the everyday social and agricultural routines of the villagers as well as holiday observances, religious practices, cosmology, beliefs and practices surrounding health and illness, the melding of Orthodox and communist traditions and their post-Soviet evolution, and the role of the yearly calendar in regulating village lives. The result is a compelling ethnography of a Russian village, the first of its kind in modern, North American anthropology.

"Paxson makes a huge contribution to our knowledge of the Russian village, an ancient human institution whose uniqueness has survived wars and revolutions for centuries. One's sense of Russia will never be quite the same after reading her book," said Robert G. Kaiser, author of Russia: The People and the Power, and Why Gorbachev Happened.

"Through intensive, careful ethnographic conversations and participant observation over several years, Margaret Paxson has uncovered a stunning cosmology that frames both ritual and everyday practices in a contemporary Russian village….Scholars and students of Russian folklore, literature, culture, and sociology will find great value in this groundbreaking and beautifully written work," wrote Nancy Ries of Colgate University.

Margaret Paxson is senior associate at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has published articles in The Washington Post Sunday Magazine and the Wilson Quarterly. The author is available for interviews; please contact Sharon McCarter at 202-691-4016 or sharon.mccarter@wilsoncenter.org.WILSON QUARTERLY, January 27, 2006



"While Paxson's book explains the memory of landscape of Russian peasants, and by extension Russian culture more generally, I recommend it to anyone interested in human beings and who like to read good books." —Slavonic and East European Review



"... a remarkable achievement.... the best ethnographic study of Russian country people available today." —Caroline Humphrey, TLS



"The book, based on in-depth participant-observation and interviews in the mid-1990s, presents in arresting imagery the everyday life of a northwestern Russian village the author calls Solovyovo. It paints the kind of memorable tableaux that one might expect from a talented novelist, and in this sense it indeed weaves a kind of story....
Engaged readers... will find a great deal of value and subtlety in Paxson's story." —Jennifer Patico, Georgia State University, AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST, Vol. 36.3 August 2009

About the Author

Margaret Paxson is Senior Associate at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has published articles in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine and the Wilson Quarterly.

Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Bembry on November 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a very scholarly work by an accomplished anthropologist. I am not sure the book completes a theme, although there is an attempt in the afterword to reconcile the vast amount of information gathered in the volume. Despite it's setting in a tiny Russian village in post-glasnost Russia, I never particularly thought of this as a Russian study so much as a study of collective memory and culture among a group of isolated people for whom change can be more easily measured. Although the detail might strike some as tedious, I had no deadline and found it to be full of fascinating observations. The author spent a total of 17 months in Solovoyo, staying several months at a time with an elderly farming couple. The couple took her in as a daughter, she shared in their lives and labor and became "one's own" (one of them.) Paxson documented the villagers' stories and explanations of cultural memory with academic fervor and unfailing respect. Also, being fluent in the Russian language, she was able to convey the complexities of meaning imbedded in words and their prefixes, suffixes and conjugations. The use of language is very important in the conveying of culture. I have studied Russian just enough to appreciate Paxson's understanding of the subtleties of that language.

In Solovoyo a spiritual world is intermingled with the physical. Words are treated as substance; they take up space, have physical effects. "Sometimes confrontation with the miracle world can happen by simply awakening it...by weighty and dangerous words. Such words are snatched up and can result in calling into form that which had no form, causing a chain of events that can be dangerous and even deadly."

The description of illness is marked by the language of weight and weightiness. "Envy will destroy the soul...
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By William Rogers on December 21, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Beautifully written and insightful.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By joel417 on January 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
The author lived among eleven denizens of a village in north Russia. This cultural anthropological work is of use to both the scholar and layman. Mores and folkways are eloquently discussed. Did the American Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Russia have similar experiences?
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