In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

November/December 2005 · Historically Speaking 35 Review Essay Post-Soviet Peter: New Histories of the Late Muscovite and Early Imperial Russian Court* Ernest A. Zitser Evgenii Viktorovich Anisimov, Gosudarstvennye preobrazovaniia i samoderzhavie Petra Velikogo vpervoi chetverti XVIII veka [State Reforms and Peter the Great's Autocracy in the First Quarter of the 18th Century]. 331 pp. St. Petersburg: Dmitrii Bulanin, 1997. ISBN 5860070632. Paul Bushkovitch, Peter the Great, xii + 187 pp. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001. ISBN 0847696383. $24.95 (cloth). ISBN 0847696391. $17.95 (paper). Paul Bushkovitch, Peter the Great: The Struggle for Power, 1671-1725. xii + 485 pp. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 521805856. $85.00. Lindsey Hughes, Russia in the Age of Peter the Great, xxix + 602 pp. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. ISBN 0300075391. $60.00 (cloth). ISBN 0300082665. $23.00 (paper). Lindsey Hughes, Peter the Great: A Biography, xv + 285 pp. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. ISBN 0300094264. $35 (cloth). ISBN 030010300X. $18.00 (paper). Dmitrii Olegovich Serov, Stroiteli imperii: Ocherki gosudarstvennoi i kriminal 'noi deiatel'nosti spodvizhnikov Petra I [Builders ofEmpire: Sketches ofthe State and Criminal Activities of Peter Ys Companions]. 262 pp. Novosibirsk: Izdatel'stvo Novosibirskogo universiteta , 1996. ISBN 5761503859. Viktor Markovich Zhivov, Razyskaniia ? oblasti istorii i predystorii russkoi kul'tury [Research in the History and Prehistory of Russian Culture]. 758 pp. Moscow: Iazyki slavianskoi kul'tury, 2002. ISBN 5785902214. • ne of the unexpected historiographical consequences ofthe demise ofthe Soviet Union has been a revival of interest in that most traditional of all Russian historical topics—the study of Peter the Great and all things Petrine (petrovedenie).1 This revival cannot simply be attributed to the fact that the political and economic transformaJ This review essay is adapted from a longer version, with the same title, that first appeared in Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 6 (2005): 375-392. Printed here with permission. Monument to Peter the Great, St. Petersburg, 1909. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [reproduction number, LC-DIG-ggbain-04176]. tions of the late 20th century happened to coincide with a spate ofPetrine tercentenaries, such as those commemorating the inauguration of the Russian navy (1695), Peter's "Great Embassy" to Europe (1697-98), or, most famously, the founding of St. Petersburg (1703). Rather, these post-Soviet Petrine celebrations are themselves a sign of Russians' renewed interest in a usable national past and in particular in the historical period that has come tö be identified (and even embraced) as the quintessential starting point of Russian modernity. Contemporary opinion polls indicate that Peter the Great has a higher approval rating than any other leader in Russian history (except perhaps for Russia's current president ). Judging by the flood ofbooks produced in the last decade, this fact is not lost on Russian publishers, who have eagerly joined contemporary politicians in cashing in on imperial nostalgia. Unfortunately, the actual intellectual content of what is sold to Russian consumers (and fobbed offon voters) suggests that much of contemporary petrovedenie fails to rise above the level attained in the first half of the 19th century, when the contours of the professional, academic study ofPeter's Russia first took shape. If they address the historiography at all, most of the glossy commemorative volumes and popular biographies produced to coincide with the recent Petrine anniversaries simply echo the old debates about continuity and change, the role of "Great Men" in history, and the inevitability of the choice between Russia and the West. Regardless ofwhich side ofthe argument they eventually land on, the participants in such endless (because ultimately ahistorical) quarrels fail to transcend the antinomies imported from German idealist philosophy by the Slavophiles and Westernizers. As a result, they do little more than perpetuate the commonly accepted myths about Peter the Great, the demiurge who supposedly dragged Muscovy kicking and screaming into the secular modern world.2 How gratifying it is, therefore, to review a selection of books that not only try to bring something new to the traditional picture of Peter, but also attempt to rethink the premises underpinning much of the old petrovedenie. Not surprisingly, this revisionist strain in the historiography ofPeter's reign has also drawn strength from...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 35-39
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.