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French and Russian in Imperial Russia

Language Use among the Russian Elite

Edited by Derek Offord, Lara Ryazanova-Clarke, Vladislav Rjeoutski, Gesine Argent

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Examines the functions of French in various spheres, domains and genres

This is the first of two companion volumes which examine language use and language attitudes in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Russia, focusing on the transitional period from the Enlightenment to the age of Pushkin. Set against the background of the rapid transformation of Russia into a major European power, the two volumes of French and Russian in Imperial Russia consider the functions of multilingualism and the use of French as a prestige language among the elite, as well as the benefits of Franco-Russian bilingualism and the anxieties to which it gave rise.

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Contents

Contents
Foreword
Note on dates, transliteration and other editorial practices
Abbreviations
Dates of reigns
INTRODUCTION, Derek Offord, Gesine Argent, Vladislav Rjéoutski and Lara Ryazanova-Clarke
1: FRENCH AND RUSSIAN IN CATHERINE’S RUSSIA, Derek Offord, Vladislav Rjéoutski and Gesine Argent
2: THE USE OF FRENCH BY CATHERINE II IN HER LETTERS TO FRIEDRICH MELCHIOR GRIMM (1774–96),Georges Dulac
3: LANGUAGE USE AMONG THE RUSSIAN ARISTOCRACY: THE CASE OF THE COUNTS STROGANOV, Vladislav Rjéoutski and Vladimir Somov
4: THE FRANCOPHONE PRESS IN RUSSIA: A CULTURAL BRIDGE AND AN INSTRUMENT OF PROPAGANDA, Vladislav Rjéoutski and Natalia Speranskaya
5: RUSSIAN NOBLEWOMEN’S FRANCOPHONE TRAVEL NARRATIVES (1777–1848): THE LIMITS OF THE USE OF FRENCH, Emilie Murphy
6: RUSSIAN OR FRENCH? BILINGUALISM IN ALEKSANDR RADISHCHEV’S LETTERS FROM EXILE (1790–1800), Rodolphe Baudin
7: CODE-SWITCHING IN THE CORRESPONDENCE OF THE VORONTSOV FAMILY, Jessica Tipton
8: FRENCH AND RUSSIAN IN THE PERSONAL DOCUMENTS OF NIKOLAI KARAMZIN, Liubov Sapchenko
9: PUSHKIN’S LETTERS IN FRENCH, Nina Dmitrieva
10: INSTRUCTION IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY COQUETRY: LEARNING ABOUT FASHION AND SPEAKING ITS LANGUAGE, Xénia Borderioux
11: THE ROLE OF FRENCH IN THE FORMATION OF ARCHITECTURAL TERMINOLOGY IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY RUSSIA, Iuliia and Sergei Klimenko
12: THE COEXISTENCE OF FRENCH AND RUSSIAN IN RUSSIA IN THE FIRST THIRD OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY: BILINGUALISM WITH OR WITHOUT DIGLOSSIA?, Nina Dmitrieva and Gesine Argent
CONCLUSION, Gesine Argent and Vladislav Rjéoutski
Notes on contributors
Index

About the Author

Derek Offord is Research Professor in Russian at the University of Bristol.

Lara Ryazanova-Clarke is a Senior Lecturer in Russian and Academic Director of the Princess Dashkova Russian Centre at the University of Edinburgh. She works in several fields within Russian language studies: sociocultural linguistics, discourse analysis, metaphorical studies, language policy, and the nexus between language, ideology and identity.

Vladislav Rjeoutski is a Research Fellow at the Deutsches Historisches Institut Moskau.

Gesine Argent is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the University of Bristol.

Reviews

Making good use of the insights and theories of sociolinguists, and concerned to reconstruct both past usage and past attitudes to language, these collective volumes are a milestone in the development of the social history of language.


Peter Burke, Emmanuel College, Cambridge

What is compelling about the twenty-four essays in these volumes is the way the authors deploy their individual disciplinary perspectives as a lens through which to explore the historical interplay between French and Russian during that period, and to consider what this interplay reveals about Russia at the time… There has been very little investigation of the history of Western European languages in Russia, but these two volumes richly and successfully redress the balance. Although each volume has a specific focus – the first on ‘language use among the Russian elite’, and the second on ‘language attitudes and identity’ – taken together, the essays ‘sharpen the focus on linguistic matters and paint a fascinating picture of the shifting interplay between French and Russian at the heart of the social, political, and cultural history of Russia… The two volumes constitute an original, thought-provoking, and absorbing contribution to language studies and the history of Russia. They should be of enormous interest to specialists, students, and many general readers.

- Michèle Cohen, Richmond American International University in London, Language and History

Written by an international cast of authors, ranging from doctoral candidates to senior scholars, the essays probe an impressively wide variety of published and unpublished materials. Each volume opens with a substantial editorial introduction and ends with a brief summary of its contributors’ conclusions. Since the standard of contributions is uniformly high, the only sense in which a reader might feel disappointed, remembering the title of these books, is that they fail to mention not only Valuev but practically everyone else in imperial Russia after 1850. The historian, perhaps more than the linguist or literary scholar, is bound to feel a sense of loss. Still, it is churlish to ask for more when so much is already on offer. Whatever these volumes may lack in chronological range is more than compensated by their multi-disciplinary variety, sensitivity to gender, and strength in depth. While most of the essays are theoretically well informed, none descends into sociolinguistic jargon and even the most technical among them remain accessible to the non-specialist. Readers will nevertheless need a good knowledge of Russian and French to grasp their significance, a requirement that will unfortunately take them beyond the reach of most Anglophone undergraduates. They will be missing a treat. No less an authority than Peter Burke regards the whole undertaking as ‘a milestone in the development of the social history of language’. That is no exaggeration.

- Simon Dixon, UCL, Slavic and East European Review

To return to our holistic metric: do the pieces related to clearly articulated common themes? (yes); do they relate to one another and even make cross-references from one article to the next? (yes); do the editors include their own narrative guides or signposts to the reader that introduce and summarize the body of work? (yes). The points of intersection are multiple and visible. Clearly, then, well above the kashka register, and at the very least firmly achieving kholodets status and climbing confidently toward the ethereal pirog. The editors provide very helpful commentaries for each volume, and I think every reader will appreciate them. I appreciate and fully endorse their desire to break down the received categories and substitute them for closer and more nuanced readings. In this the collection is fully successful… I applaud the editors, and the conference that preceded the books, and I can only hope that the contributors are inspired to reconvene and take the discussion(s) to the next phase. Let there be Volume 3!

- Gary Marker, Stony Brook University, Russie Ancienne et Impériale

These two volumes are a fine introduction to a topic of enquiry that has, until now, received much less scholarly attention than it deserves.

- Adam Coker, University of Exeter, Modern Language Review
The two volumes under review are characterized by an absolute wealth of material, the exceptional clarity of the presentation, and the theoretical conclusions which take into account the often conflicting empirical data.
- NLO

The two volumes in question are an ambitious undertaking by a group of scholars specializing in Russian Studies. The contributors are well-versed in each other・s work and the field of Russian Studies. The collection can be recommended also to those who do not specialize in Russian Studies, but have more general interests such as translation culture, historical sociolinguistics, and multilingualism in Europe in the eighteenth‒nineteenth centuries.

- Anna Verschik, Ab Imperio

The far too sparse "notes de lecture" provided above cannot give an adequate impression of the sheer wonderful richness of all that is contained within the covers of the two volumes here reviewed. This work is a major milestone in historical sociolinguistics... all contributions are written in a lucid and easily accessed style, free of unnecessary jargon ... I commend both these two volumes, which together make up "French and Russian in Imperial Russia", very warmly indeed to all kinds of possible readers, adding a particular plea for them to make sure that they read both books; I have no doubt but that they will find them as instructive, interesting, readable and scholarly as I have.

- Anders Ahlqvist, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Linguist List
The primary interest of these volumes is that the authors have made extensive and intelligent use of archives. Many little-known and often unpublished articles are cited... Any scholar working on the Russian eighteenth or early nineteenth century will find French and Russian in Imperial Russia immensely useful on aspects of the language and culture of the period, especially for the access these volumes provide to the relevant Russian archival documents. Libraries in institutions to which SEEJ readers belong need these books. And American Slavists clearly must stay alert to the future scholarly enterprises of our colleagues in Edinburgh.
- Elizabeth Klosty Beaujour, Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center , Slavic and East European Journal

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