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The Domostroi: Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801496899
ISBN-10: 0801496896
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Domostroi, which literally means 'household order,' is a 16th-century Russian guide to life for noblemen, an exhaustive inventory of homilies, rules and recipes ranging from how to instill obedience in a wife to instructions for making mead and storing cabbage. Students of Russian history have long valued the Domostroi for its insights into how society was ordered in the early days of czarist rule. But even the merely curious can revel in the domestic preoccupations and atavistic advice in this ably translated and annotated edition .... Much of the Domostroi reads like a kind of 'Hints from Heloise'―and Abelard."―Alessandra Stanley, New York Times Book Review



"The Domostroi is a wonderful resource for the social history of the Muscovite period that is, sadly, little seen by any but the most serious specialist. . . . This translation goes a long way toward opening the Domostroi to a wider audience. . . . The translation itself reads well―a difficult feat, considering the abstruse style of the original. Throughout, Pouncy uses footnotes to educate readers with fuller information about the history and society of Muscovy, controversies among modern historians, choices she made for the translation and bibliographic citations for her work."―Russian Review

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (September 7, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801496896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801496899
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the best ways to get to know a people is to learn what they believe, value, love, honor, and what they fear, loathe, and seek to avoid. One of the best guides to these attitudes and beliefs is what they do; this is the work they looked to to find out what to do. To learn it in their own words, articulately expressed and classically framed is a treat. To find it in a book that generations of a nation kept as their practical handbook for daily life is a marvel. It's like a combination of Emily Post, Betty Crocker, and the Old Farmer's Almanac, with elements of the Book of Common Prayer thrown in. You won't find critical analysis, postmodern theory, contextualization or anything condescending here -- just their own values and rules for living, as they held them. It ain't everything, but it sure is a leg up on knowing what even modern Russians are about. And it is intensely amusing. Communism, Maffia and modernity have taken their toll, but old Orthodox Slavic values are alive especially among some more traditional emigrees. You will find their prescription for living here, flatfooted, naive, often amiable, occasionally hilarious, and sometimes enough to make a genteel modern person cringe. Whether you want to revive it, analyze it, critique it, or just understand it, this gives enormous insight into a tradition we need to know about. It is of the nature of "source material," unless you are a Russian in search of a reference work for life. But it is well done, an important work to have translated. For anyone planning to visit Moscow during the rule of Ivan Grozny, this is almost the first thing to pack in your time machine--maybe right after your kaftan, axe, Slavonic Prayer Book and "prazdniki"-- travelling icon. It is well enough translated and introduced, but the text itself is its own best reason to be and be read. Pouncy does well to let it be in a good, accessible form, in our language, in our alien world.
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Format: Paperback
The Domostroi is part "Miss Manners" part "Better Homes and Gardens" for Russia under the Czars. It is a fascinating glimpse at another time in a very foreign place.
The book discusses a wide variety of daily rituals and domestic tasks to be done by various members of the household. For example, there are instructions on subjects as varied as "How to Invite Priests and Monks Into One's House to Pray", "How a Good Woman Supervises Her Domestic's Needlework" to "Recepies for All Sorts of Honey Drinks: How to distill and brew." The information, while dry, gives the reader a very clear understanding of what daily life was like in Russian in the 15th and 16th centuries.
While probably not of interest to all, it certainly is a marvelous resource to those seeking a deeper understanding of the "Russian soul."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book while researching a novel I was ghostwriting set in sixteenth century Russia. The book was immensely helpful. The "Domostroi" was the "bible" for behavior among noble families in Russia at the time. The book was packed with all sorts of obscure information ranging from how to beat servants to how to clean up a bride after her wedding night. It was a fascinating look at a "long time ago in a land far away." I'll be reading it again.
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