Dmitrii Ivanoich Rostislavov was a mathematician, teacher and social critic in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Translated into English for the first time, his observations on daily life reveal the cultural milieu and issues of his time. An acute observer, Rostislavov discusses social and ethnic relationships within his village as well as matters pertaining to education, law enforcement, religious practice and folk beliefs. An educated man, he participated in the development of rationalist, scientific habits of thought and the new concern for good manners, education and genteel appearances. His parents were among the first in the village to eschew heavy drinking, to wear urban fashions instead of traditional peasant dress and to refuse to believe owls were emissaries of the devil. Illustrations, maps and an introduction illuminating the historical context accompany this account of life in provincial Russia.
Alexander M. Martin, author of Romantics, Reformers, Reactionaries: Russian Conservative Thought and Politics in the Reign of Alexander I, is Associate Professor of Modern European History at Oglethorpe University. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two children.