Introduction: A Member of the Family—Russia’s Place in Europe, 1789–1914

  • Susan P. McCaffray
  • Michael Melancon


Asophisticated Latvian lady, who had immigrated to the United States after World War II, settled first in New York City and later in North Carolina. Here she flourished, presiding over a literary salon and preserving her love of German and Russian literature. In defense of her interests she announced prosaically, “I’m no patriot.” One day a friend held forth on the merits of “Eastern European” literature, while she nodded approvingly. When she spoke, however, she gently admonished her companion: “What you say is true; but Latvians do not really consider themselves East Europeans.” Her interlocutor, struggling to conceal her surprise, inquired just how Latvians did characterize themselves: Central Europeans, perhaps? Northern Europeans? The lady nodded, wrinkling her brow. “Or,” she added, “West Europeans.”


Nineteenth Century Iron Curtain European History European Railroad Interpretive Debate 
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  1. 1.
    Richard Chancellor traveled to Russia in 1553 and 1555, and his account is available in Lloyd E. Berry and Robert O. Crummey, Rude and Barbarous Kingdom: Russia in the Accounts of Sixteenth-Century English Voyagers (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968), 9–41. Prime Minister Winston Churchill offered his famous assessment in an October, 1939 radio address in which he declared that he could not predict what Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union was up to.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Martin Malia, Russia Under Western Eyes (Cambridge, MA: Belnap Press, 1999). Richard Pipes has authored numerous works that detail his assertion that Russia is better understood as essentially an “Asian” country. For a taste of this view, see his Russia Observed: Collected Essays on Russia and Soviet History (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  3. George Vernadsky’s venerable history is A History of Russia 5 vols. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1969).Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    A few others have begun to consider reinterpreting Russia’s relationship to modern Europe. See, e.g., David L. Hoffmann and Yanni Kotsonis, Russian Modernity: Politics, Knowledge, Practices (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), especially Kotsonis’ introduction, 1–16. Other innovative approaches that implicitly address aspects of Russia’s place in the wider world includeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Jane Burbank and David Ransel, Imperial Russia: New Histories for the Empire (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998);Google Scholar
  6. Esther Kingston-Mann, In Search of the True West: Culture, Economics, and Problems of Russian Development (Princeton University Press, 1999);Google Scholar
  7. Edith W. Clowes et al., Between Tsar and People: Educated Society and the Quest for Public Identity in Late Imperial Russia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991);Google Scholar
  8. Laura Engelstein, The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Search for Modernity in Fin-de-Siecle Russia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992);Google Scholar
  9. and Louise McReynolds, Russia at Play: Leisure Activities at the End of the Tsarist Era (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003).Google Scholar

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© Susan P. McCaffray and Michael Melancon 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan P. McCaffray
  • Michael Melancon

There are no affiliations available

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