A Russian Merchant’s Tale: The Life and Adventures of Ivan Alekseevich Tolchenov, Based on His Diary – David L. Ransel
Indiana University Press | 2008 | PDF
Based on the rare diary of an 18th-century Russian provincial merchant, A Russian Merchant’s Tale presents a revealing portrait of Russia’s little-known commercial class. By recording his daily contacts with a wide array of individuals from lords to laborers for more than 40 years, Ivan Alekseevich Tolchënov opened a window onto the education, work, birth, death, marriage, business, civic, holiday, and religious practices of a social group about which little has been known. Using the tools of microhistory to interpret the diary, David L. Ransel vividly brings to life Tolchënov’s self-construction, his relations with family and society, and his entire world of aspirations, achievements, and failures. Challenging prevailing stereotypes of Russian merchants as tradition-bound and narrow-minded, A Russian Merchant’s Tale offers important new insights into the social history of imperial Russia.