Castration and the Heavenly Kingdom: A Russian Folktale

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9780801436765: Castration and the Heavenly Kingdom: A Russian Folktale
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Of the many sects that broke from the official Russian Orthodox church in the 18th century, one was universally despised. Its members were peasants from the Russian heartland skilled in the arts of animal husbandry who turned their knives on themselves to become eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. Convinced that salvation came only with the literal excision of the instruments of sin, they were known as Skoptsy (the self-castrated). Their community thrived well into the 20th century, when it was destroyed in the Stalinist Terror.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Laura Engelstein’s Castration and the Heavenly Kingdom adds significantly to the literature on Russian sects and to the field of sociosexual behavior. Exploiting unique Russian judicial sources, she gives us these sectarians in their own words as they move from secrecy in the early nineteenth century to self-advertisement in the early twentieth century. Engelstein’s tales form a lush tapestry of a traditional sect awkwardly coming to terms with modernity."--Richard C. Trexler, Binghamton University

"This book tells a fascinating story of the most stigmatized religious dissidents in Russia and, in doing so, illuminates important current debates on identity, group solidarity, the maintenance of cultural boundaries and norms, and the consequences of social and cultural transgression. Laura Engelstein's authorial voice, thorough contextualization of her sources, and framing of her arguments leave no doubt about her mastery of the issues driving the most fruitful social and literary theory."--David Ransel, Indiana University

About the Author:

Laura Engelstein is Henry S. McNeil Professor of History at Yale University. She is author of The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Search for Modernity in Fin-de-Siècle Russia and coeditor, with Stephanie Sandler, of Self and Story in Russian History, also from Cornell.

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Engelstein, Laura
Published by Cornell Univ Pr (1999)
ISBN 10: 0801436761 ISBN 13: 9780801436765
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