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Dacha Idylls

Living Organically in Russia's Countryside

Melissa L. Caldwell

Publication Year: 2010

Dacha Idylls is a lively account of dacha life and how Russians experience this deeply rooted tradition of the summer cottage amid the changing cultural, economic, and political landscape of postsocialist Russia. Simultaneously beloved and reviled, dachas wield a power that makes owning and caring for them an essential part of life. In this book, Melissa L. Caldwell captures the dacha’s abiding traditions and demonstrates why Russians insist that these dwellings are key to understanding Russian life. She draws on literary texts as well as observations from dacha dwellers to highlight this enduring fact of Russian culture at a time when so much has changed. Caldwell presents the dacha world in all its richness and complexity—a "good life" that draws inspiration from the natural environment in which it is situated.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v

Contents

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p. vii-vii

Illustrations

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p. ix-ix

Note on Transliteration and Pronunciation

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p. xi-xi

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xxi

In fall 1998, as I was concluding a year of fieldwork in Moscow, my parents came for a visit. My apartment was located in a small Khrushchev-era apartment block in Fili, a leafy and quiet residential district on the western edge of the city center. Just a few minutes’ walk from my apartment was Filevskii Park, one of the largest forested parks in Moscow. During my ...

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1. Dacha Enchantments

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pp. 1-27

In summer, it may appear that all of Russia has gone on vacation. The bustle and noise of daily life in towns and cities noticeably ease with the departure of residents to public parks, summer camps, cottage communities, and tourist destinations elsewhere. The pace of life slows down as people meander aimlessly through the dense thickets of parks and forests, ...

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2. Intimate Irritations: Living with Chekhov at the Dacha

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pp. 28-47

At the end of summer 2005, I was invited by Veronika to visit her at the dacha that she shared with her elderly widowed mother, Zinaida, in the Nadezhda dacha cooperative. During the summer, Veronika and Zinaida occasionally shared the dacha with Veronika’s grandchildren and assorted nieces and nephews. Accompanying me on this visit were my hostess Iuliia ...

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3. The Pleasure of Pain: Gardening for the Soul

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pp. 48-73

In the 1990s, dacha stories were rife with narratives of need, misery, and suffering juxtaposed against the satisfactions associated with dacha life. During the periodic economic uncertainties that had emerged in the initial post-Soviet period, dachas became particularly important as a part of Russia’s subsistence economy. Newspaper accounts documenting the ...

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4. Natural Foods: Feeding the Body and Nourishing the Soul

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pp. 74-100

In early August 2005, the passage above introduced an article about the social history of the blueberry in Russian life in Tver Life, a daily newspaper for the city of Tver. Combining romantic descriptions with practical information, the article focused primarily on the healthful attributes of blueberries: they improve vision, especially for drivers and people who sit ...

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5. Disappearing Dachniki

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pp. 101-129

One intriguing trend within Russia’s natural foods movement is that of “peasant food.” At relatively reasonable prices, brands such as “Little House in the Village” and “Beloved Garden” promise consumers who desire a taste of “the wild” not just healthy foods but also access to “tradition” in the form of association with an authentic peasant lifestyle. Prepackaged foods, ...

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6. Dacha Democracy: Building Civil Society in Out-of-the-Way Places

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pp. 130-161

Toward the end of my stay in Tver in summer 2005, Larisa and Pavel, a married couple who were friends with Angela’s mother, invited Angela and me to visit them at their dacha northwest of the city. Through Angela’s mother, Larisa passed on instructions about which minibus to take. Fortunately, because Larisa and Pavel’s dacha community was located at the ...

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7. The Daily Dacha Soap Opera

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pp. 162-174

Television has consistently played a significant role in the dacha lives of my friends and acquaintances over the past two decades. In the mid-1990s, at the beginning of the consumption revolution that swept the postsocialist world, Russians’ television-viewing habits changed dramatically as the privatization of Russian media, the arrival of cable and satellite television, ...

Notes

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pp. 175-182

Bibliography

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pp. 183-195

Index

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pp. 197-200

Production Notes

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p. 201-201


E-ISBN-13: 9780520947870
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520262850

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2010