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Review Essay: "Hearing a Woman's Voice": Female Perspectives on Change in Russia and the Former Soviet Union Susan Hardy Aiken, Adele Marie Barker, Maya Koreneva, and Ekaterina Stetsenko. Dialoques/Dialoqi: Literary and Cultural Exchanges between (ex) Soviet and American Women. Durham, N.C. and London: Duke University Press, 1994. xvüi + 415 pp. ISBN 0-8223-1375-8 (cl); 0-82231390 -1 (pb). Mary Buckley, ed. Perestroika and Soviet Women. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. xiii + 183 pp. ISBN 0-521-41442-1 (cl); 0-52142738 -X (pb). Anna Horsbrugh-Porter, ed. (with interviews by Frances Welch and Elena Snow). Memories of Revolution: Russian Women Remember. London and New York: Routledge, 1993. ix +138 pp.; map. ISBN 0-415-08806-2 (d); 0^15-08807-0 (pb). Tatyana Mamonova. Women's Glasnost vs. Naqlost: Stopping Russian Backlash . Westport, Conn, and London: Bergin and Garvey, 1994. xx + 184 pp.; Ul. ISBN 0-89789-339-5 (cl); 0-89789-340-9 (pb). Larissa Vasilieva. Kremlin Wives. Translated by Cathy Porter. New York: Arcade Publishing, 1992. xviU + 251 pp.; Ul. ISBN 1-55970-260-5 (cl). Lynne Attwood These five books are new additions to the growing Hiterdisdplinary Hterature on women Hi Russia. They differ considerably in style and content, encompassing women's history, women's writing, and women's sodal, poHtical, and economic roles in contemporary Russia. However, they do have one thing Hi common. In the past, when Soviet writers were constrained by censorship and Western writers by limited access, books about Soviet sodety presented its dtizens on the one hand as paragons of offidal moraHty and on the other as objeds of academic enquiry. Each of these books, in contrast, endeavors to give women in the former Soviet Union voices of their own. Memories of Revolution, edited by Anna Horsbrugh-Porter, consists of a series of interviews with ten women whose childhood experiences were lived against the backdrop of revolution and, in all but one case, exüe from Russia. As the editor notes, the study breaks one of the traditions of oral history by focusing not on the underprivileged but on the daughters of the © 1996 Journal of Women's History, Vol. 8 No. 2 (Summer) 182 Journal of Women's History Summer most privUeged class of Russian pre-revolutionary society, but the fortunes of this dass were rapidly overturned. As the tales unfold, they provide an interesting picture of changing class relations in revolutionary Russia as seen through the eyes of a particular sodal group. Irina Sergeevna Tidmarsh describes pre-revolutionary summers spent at the family's country estate as an endless round of swimming and horseback riding, interrupted only by a succession of sumptuous meals consumed in various locations "according to the weather and [Aunt] Masha's will.... We often had lunch under the oak tree or under the pine tree, or by the flower garden in front of the house. The poor maids had to carry enormous trays with all the crockery and all the silver and all the food outside. But it wasn't too bad," she insists; "they didn't really mind" (p. 49). It is doubtful, of course, that they were ever asked. She also tells of a peasant woman working on the estate of a family friend who bore her employer four children (we are given no clue as to whether she minded), who were given over to the care of his sister, Maria: "The poor peasant mother . . . was only allowed to come and see them at Christmas and Easter.... She sat in the chamber hall on a little chair and thaf s where the chUdren came to see her... Maria only aUowed her to see the chUdren for haff an hour or so" (p. 57). The young aristocrats do deserve some sympathy themselves, however . One, whose mother died in childbfrth, was given away to a complete stranger by her indifferent father when his mother got too old to care for her (p. 9). Others were brought up by a succession of foreign governesses, periodically replaced to ensure that the children reached the polyglot proficiency expeded of the aristocracy. After the revolution the aristocrats' luxurious homes were requisitioned by the state...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 181-190
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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