Entertaining TsaristRussia

Tales, Songs, Plays, Movies, Jokes,Ads and Images from Russian Urban Life, 1779-1917


Edited by James von Geldern and Louise McReynolds

This anthology introduces readers to Tsarist Russia's emerging popular and commercial urban culture and the individuals and groups that produced and consumed it. Some 65 selections illustrate in colorful detail how Russian society and culture evolved in response to economic, technological, and political changes from the late eighteenth century through the 1917 revolution. Fortune-telling and etiquette manuals, thieves' tales, children's literature, popular songs, war stories, women's novels, satires of life in America, and vaudeville skits are just a few of the genres represented.

A companion audio CD features performances of around 30 popular songs and vaudevilles by some of the most famous singers and comics of the day, with such favorites as "Stenka Razin", "Down Along the Mother Volga," and "Dubinushka." Russian texts of many ofthe songs and skits are included in the book.

The anthology and CD can be purchased from Indiana University Press. Due to the constraints of space, we could not include everything we would have liked in the anthology. On this website are some of the materials excluded, including both texts and audio files.

Go to Supplementary Materials.



Entertaining Tsarist Russia is the companion volume to Mass Culture in Soviet Russia, ed. James von Geldern and Richard Stites (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1995), which covers mass culture for the years 1917-1953.