A Life under Russian Serfdom: Memoirs of Savva Dmitrievich Purlevskii, 1800-1868

By Boris B. Gorshkov | Go to book overview

THE BITTERNESS OF SERFDOM REALIZED

(XIV)

I have already mentioned that, from my childhood, I had a great love of reading. But before my marriage I mostly limited my read- ing to books of ecclesiastical content and read very few secular publications. After I got married, I began to read real literature. And my curiosity was aroused to such an extent that I could spend entire nights sitting with my books. The poetry of those days par- ticularly attracted me. As a result, I still retain in my memory many compositions and entire plays by certain poets. The intelligent judgments of talented writers always won out over my simple- minded peasant views and the superstitions usual for a commoner. Reading exposed my ignorance about almost everything.

Nevertheless, this somehow lowered my self-esteem. Although I agreed with the ideas I read about and although my mind could comprehend them and my traditional assumptions were gradually vanishing, their place was being taken by some confusing and dif- fuse thoughts, which I not only barely understood, but which also aroused in me a skepticism about what I was reading. Of course, the cause of all this confusion was my own non-systematic reading.

Perhaps this was for the better, because I was cautious about reaching hasty agreement with those brave ideas, which could hardly be applied to the actualities of my serf condition. After all, I was not a single man. I needed to think about and take care of my family...

Although it scarcely satisfied my spiritual objectives, my business provided support for the household. Thus I decided to continue my life according to the familiar path of commerce. Later on, the books

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