Order «A Century Mad and Wise» Russia in the Age of the Enlightenment

. . . No, you will not be forgot, century crazy and wise,
Cursed forever and yet, ever the wonder of all,
Blood your nativity fouled, thunder of war at your wake,
Bloody descend to the grave…
But look, rising upwards two cliffs, ascending amidst bloody streams:
Peter and Catherine, yes! Eternity’s children, and Russia’s!
Darkness is all in the past, sunshine predicts happy days, S
hining the way with the light mirrored off their rocky bluffs.


These lines, taken from Aleksandr Radishchev’s poem, “The Eighteenth Century” (1801-2), depicted that age as “a century mad and wise,” a time of Enlightenment and bloodshed, creation and destruction, progress and retrogress.  Its very form, an attempt to reproduce the classical elegiac distich, suggested both Romantic innovation and Classical authenticity.

These lines also furnish the title of this volume on Russia in the Age of the Enlightenment, Papers from the IX International Conference of the Study Group on Eighteenth-Century Russia, which was held in July 2014 at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.  Scholars from Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States gathered to present their findings which cover a spectrum of issues that span the age of Peter, Catherine and Alexander.  These include studies of literature; opera; folk prints; gastronomy; trade and economics; sociology; jurisprudence; diplomacy; travel and exploration; religious, imperial and Masonic discourse; painting and art collecting; and popular entertainments.  As Radishchev’s poem suggested, they describe an age of both wonders and contrasts, ingenuity and mysticism, initiations and failures.

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Book contents



  • Natal’ya Kochetkova. Читательские отклики на публикации Карамзина в России XVIII века
  • Andrei Kostin. «Житие Федора Васильевича Ушакова» А. Н. Радищева в восприятии первых читателей
  • Marcus C. Levitt. Первая русская опера «Цефал и Прокрис» А. П. Сумарокова и проблема аллегоризма
  • Mikhail Ljustrov. Богослужение как сражение и фрикасе из самозванца: «страшные» сравнения в сочинениях Д. И. Фонвизина и Л. Хольберга
  • Angelina Vacheva. Диалог образов. Проблема просвещенного монарха в мемуарах Екатерины II
  • Rodolphe Baudin. Shaping Cultural Identities and Politics: French and British Foodways in Karamzin’s Letters of a Russian Traveler
  • Andreas Schönle. Between the Value of Words and the Value of Land: Alexander Bakunin's Poetry on Agricultural Improvement

Society, Economy

  • Yulia Bodrova. Чиновничество в системе социальных связей российского провинциального общества конца XVIII – начала XIX в.
  • Guyzel Ibneeva. Взаимодействие Екатерины II и городских сословий в ходе императорских путешествий
  • Robert E. Jones. Commercial Capital and Credit
  • Elena Marasinova. The Alexander Brückner Archive and an Unknown Diary from the Period of the Decembrist Uprising
  • George Munro. The Law and the Profits: P.  H.  Dilthey, the Fundamentals of  Veksel’ Law and Merchant Practices


  • Hans van Koningsbrugge. A Dutch disaster: Russia and the Netherlands and the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War
  • Michael Bitter. Ministers and Favorites in the 1730s: An Analysis of the Dynamic Relationship between Osterman and Biron Through the Eyes of British Diplomats

Russian Empire

  • James R. Gibson. Kamchatkan Camaraderie: Captain Cook’s Third Voyage and Governor Magnus Von Behm
  • Janet M. Hartley. Slaves and Spouses: Russian Settlers and Non-Russians in Siberia
  • Colum Leckey. Orenburg and the Central Asian Trade, 1730s-1770s
  • Sergey Kozlov. Сибирь в контексте академических экспедиций екатерининского времени
  • Mark A. Soderstrom. Timofei’s Tale. Service and Selfhood in Eighteenth-Century Siberia
  • Ideas, Discourse, Cultural Transfer
  • Maria Cristina Bragone. Несколько наблюдений о переводe И.В. Пауса «Малого Катехизиса» Лютера
  • Elena Pogosyan. Анатомическая тема в проповедях Гавриила Бужинского 1719 года
  • Michael Schippan. Немецкая утопия „Der wohleingerichtete Staat des Königreichs Ophir“  (1699) и «Путешествие в Землю Офирскую» князя Михаила Щербатова
  • Denis Sdvizhkov. Общество и нация: взаимовлияния церковного и государственного дискурса в России в конце 18 – начале 19 вв.
  • Ingrid Schierle. Концепты социального порядка в проповедях второй половины XVIII  века
  • Anna Zernova. Церковная проповедь и государственная идеология: высшее  духовенство в церемониале открытия наместничеств
  • Natalie Bayer & Robert Collis. Light from the North: Tadeusz Grabianka, the New Israel Society and Millenarian Sentiment Among the Russian Nobility, 1788-1807
  • Wim Coudenys. Translatio historiae: The Role of Translation in Eighteenth-Century Russian History Writing
  • Victoria Frede. Freemasonry, Secrecy, and Letter Writing in the 1780s
  • Alexander M. Martin. The Barber from Silesia: One Family’s Odyssey in the German-Russian Contact Zone, 1768-1870

Education, Art and Adventures

  • Manfred Schruba. Русские народные картинки: западноевропейские образцы и параллели
  • Emmanuel Waegemans. Слово государево или вся власть пословицам
  • Steven A. Usitalo. Curiosity and the Kunstkamera
  • Ekaterina Skvortsova. The Problem of the Representation of the Emperor’s Power in 18th-century Russian Art: On the example of a portrait gallery of the Chesme Palaceµ
  • Catherine Phillips. Collecting Drawings: Russian Engagement in Elite Artistic Collecting Practices
  • Robert Collis. ‘A Veritable Eldorado’ : European Wondermongers in Russia, 1755-1803

Bibliographical data

Title: «A Century Mad and Wise» Russia in the Age of the Enlightenment 
Subtitle: Papers from the IX International Conference of the Study Group on Eighteenth-Century Russia, Leuven 2014
Editors: Emmanuel Waegemans, Hans van Koningsbrugge, Marcus Levitt and Mikhail Ljustrov
Published: Groningen, 2015
ISBN: 978-90-819568-8-8

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