Up from Serfdom

My Childhood and Youth in Russia, 1804-1824

Aleksandr Nikitenko; Translated by Helen Saltz Jacobson; Foreword by Peter Kolchin

View Inside Price: $28.00


August 11, 2002
256 pages, 5 x 8
25 b/w illus. + 3 maps
ISBN: 9780300097160
Paper

Also Available in:
Cloth

“A rare and powerful document. Nikitenko’s memoir should take its place next to the very best ex-slave narratives and those of untouchables in India.”—James C. Scott

“An important historical account that reveals a great deal about the realities of serfdom.”—Juliet Wittman, Washington Post Book World

“One of the best surviving accounts of Russian serfdom.”—Blake Eskin, Lingua Franca

Aleksandr Nikitenko, born into Russian serfdom in 1804, almost miraculously gained his freedom as a young man, thirty-seven years before serfdom was abolished in the Russian Empire. His compelling autobiography--here translated into English for the first time—is one of the very few ever written by a former serf. Nikitenko describes the tragedy, despair, unpredictability, and astounding luck of his youth, bringing to life as never before the experience of a serf in nineteenth-century Russia.

Helen Saltz Jacobson is a freelance writer and translator known for her translation of Nikitenko’s 1826-1874 diaries. She has also translated five volumes of Russian science fiction into English.

"The appearance of Nikitenko’s memoir in translation is very timely. As the most comprehensive autobiography by a Russian serf if provides a basis for a long overdue comparison between serf and slave narratives which would illuminate our appreciation of both."—Katerina Clark, Comparative Literature and Slavic, Yale University

“This book is an excellent addition to the literature on serfdom, pre-reform provincial society, Russian history in the early nineteenth century, and the development of sociopolitical thought among non-elite groups during that period. The translation is smooth and idiomatic, the illustrations concerning rural society are highly evocative, and the maps are also helpful. For the non-specialist, Peter Kolchin’s foreword and the explanatory endnotes provide useful background. We can only hope that a paperback version is in the works as well for use as a course text.”—Alexander M. Martin, H-Net Review


 

“An intriguing account, with a most useful introduction by Peter Kolchin, contrasting contemporary Russian serfdom and black slavery in the United States. For academic and specialized libraries.”—Library Journal

“One of the best surviving accounts of Russian serfdom.”—Blake Eskin, Lingua Franca

“An important historical account that reveals a great deal about the realities of serfdom.”—Juliet Wittman, Washington Post Book World

"A rare and powerful document. Nikitenko’s memoir should take its place next to the very best ex-slave narratives and those of untouchables in India."—James C. Scott

Chosen as an "Outstanding" title in the 2001 Association of American University Presses (AAUP) University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries