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THE BULLETIN OF Friends Historical Association Vol. 40Spring Number, 1951No. 1 LESKOV ON QUAKERS IN RUSSIA By William Edgerton* THE complex and many-sided genius of Nikolai Semënovich Leskov (1831-1895), who might well be considered die most original storyteller, in Russian literature, has not yet come into its own among English-speaking peoples. His racy, colorful language, diough the delight of Russian readers, is almost die despair of translators; and of die more than thirtysix volumes of his purely literary works (not to speak of his voluminous correspondence and journalistic writings) fewer dian half a, dozen are as yet available in English. Probably no Russian writer of his stature ever had a broader and more intimate knowledge of Russian life and die Russian people. He knew Russia too well at first hand to be either a good radical or a thoroughgoing reactionary, and as a result die radicals of his own day called him a reactionary and die reactionaries had him dismissed from a Government job for supposedly being a radical. Several of his works, including his greatest satire, were never allowed to be printed under die tsarist censorship and have been published only since the Soviet Revolution. On die other hand, die religious element in his writings seems to have made him, like Dostoyevsky, an awkward subject for Soviet scholars to handle. No complete edition of his works has been published in Soviet Russia, and the number * William Edgerton is Assistant Professor of Russian at Pennsylvania State College. 4 Bulletin of Friends Historical Association of his individual works diat have appeared in Soviet editions is small. Nevertheless, he is treated favorably, tiiough briefly, in the literary texdbooks now used in Soviet schools, which state diat his talent was revealed particularly in his tales and novels about die life of die Russian priesdiood and mention by name his Details of Episcopal Life and his masterpiece The Cathedral Folk. Neidier of diese, to die best of my knowledge, has ever been reprinted in the Soviet Union. It is just diis religious element in Leskov's life and works that links him at a number of interesting points to Quakerism. By his own statement one of the lifelong influences of his childhood was an aunt of his who married an Englishman, became the close friend of an English Quaker girl who had gone to Russia as a governess, and finally adopted die Quaker way of life herself. Leskov gives a delightful and at times deeply moving account of this Aunt Polly and her Quaker friend Hildegarde in one of the best of his later works, Vale of Tears (1892) , which has never been translated into English. The response of his readers to diis account of Aunt Polly and her Quaker friend led Leskov to write a special article "On Quakeresses," which was reprinted together with Vale of Tears in Volume 33 of the third edition of his complete works (St. Petersburg: A. F. Marks Publishers, 1902-1903). Pending the opportunity to translate the longer Vale of Tears I give a separate translation below of the article "On Quakeresses," which appears here for the first time in English. Friends who are acquainted with the literature on Quakerism and Russia will find that Leskov's account below of the "exiled Russian Quaker maidens" has a number of curious parallels widi V. V. Guryev's article on "Russian Maidens Who Suffered as Quakers," which first appeared in Russki Vestnik (The Russian Messenger) in 1881 (CLIV, 425-458), and was published in an English translation by Edward Bernstein in London in 1919. It is obvious from the tone of Leskov's article tiiat he knew nothing about the one by Guryev—-despite the fact Leskov on Quakers in Russia5 diat it had appeared in a periodical with which Leskov himself had at one time been closely associated!* The question diat has remained unanswered ever since Guryev's article appeared in English is whether the twenty-two "exiled Russian maidens" had really been influenced by English Quakerism. If so, diis would raise interesting questions about English Quaker influences in Russia before 1744, the year in which die women were sent to Siberia. Guryev, himself an...


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