Children’s World

Growing Up in Russia, 1890-1991

Catriona Kelly

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A pioneering history of the experiences of children during Russia’s most disrupted century

How a country views its children reveals a great deal about that country. This landmark history of childhood in twentieth-century Russia presents an enthralling and detailed picture of a society where childhood was celebrated everywhere but children’s real needs were often neglected by the state. Catriona Kelly, one of the foremost cultural historians of modern Russia, explores every aspect of children’s lives, including the stresses and joys of ordinary family life, friendships, sports and games, first love, clothing, and schools. She examines the experiences of children in institutions, orphanages, and Stalin’s camps, as well as the impact on their lives of such historical tragedies as revolution, civil and world war, and political purges. Based on unprecedented research in archives, hundreds of interviews, and the study of a huge range of newspapers, books, and pamphlets, the book has an immediacy which is startling. Over 100 illustrations sharpen the focus still more. Kelly weaves together information about the relationships between children and adults, prevailing ideas about childhood, and the actual experiences of children to create an unforgettable account of the intimate workings of Russian and Soviet society.

Catriona Kelly is professor of Russian, University of Oxford, and fellow of New College. She has published extensively on Russian cultural history, including most recently Comrade Pavlik: The Rise and Fall of a Soviet Boy Hero. She lives in Oxford, UK.

“A work of formidable erudition, huge originality and powerful imagination….a tour de force.”—Stephen A. Smith, University of Essex

"No one can finish this book without learning a lot about twentieth-century Russian children and their families and encountering many voices of Russian childhood. . . . A pleasure to read because of the wealth of information about subjects that historians usually ignore."—Jeffrey Brooks, Slavic Review

"With this encyclopaedic and erudite study, Catriona Kelly consolidates her position in the first rank of those currently writing in English about Russian cultural history. . . . The great achievement of this book is to impart a sense of childhood as it was lived; of few academic studies can it be said so truly that there is not a dull page in it."—John McNair, Australian Slavonic and East European Studies

"Kelly's encompassing study is likely to remain the major reference book on Russian childhood for years to come. Undoubtedly, it will be of immense interest to a wide range of readers, including social historians, anthropologists, cultural studies specialists, and anyone seeking to understand the effects of a Soviet childhood and the problem of trying to generalize about the diversity of educational practices."—Alexandra Smith, Modern Language Review

"A path-breaking book with a wealth of information."—Jane A. Taubman, Project Muse

"Exploring an encyclopedic range of subjects. . .this book establishes itself as the necessary starting point for students and scholars interested in the lives of Russian children or in comparative studies of childhood, schooling, and families. The book resists 'grand statements about Russian or Soviet upbringing' and magnificently fulfills its goal of giving the details of childhood their due."—Lisa A. Kirschenbaum, American Historical Review

Selected as a 2008 AAUP University Press Book for Public and Secondary School Libraries.

Winner of the Grace Abbott Book Prize in the category of Best Book on Children's History, sponsored by the Society for the History of Children and Youth.
ISBN: 9780300112269
Publication Date: January 28, 2008
736 pages, 7 x 10
115 b/w illus.
St Petersburg

Shadows of the Past

Catriona Kelly

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