Tracking Social Change Through Sport Hunting
It remains as a classic text of Russian political history: Ivan Turgenev’s A Sportsman’s Sketches. The enserfed peasantry sprang from the pages as live people, individuals with whom the privileged reader could share human desires and misfortunes. Russia’s version of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, A Sportsman’s Sketches inflamed public opinion against serfdom, thereby paving the moral path for the emancipation that would turn both noble and peasant worlds topsy-turvy. However, just as Stowe’s masterpiece offers equally compelling insights into the problematic domestic economy of nineteenth-century America,2 so too must Turgenev’s work be mined for more than its abolitionist subtext, which Turgenev surely intended less bluntly than did Stowe. In both cases an analysis of the action that provides the context for the political motif proves fruitful; Uncle Tom’s Cabin describes the maintenance of various households, and A Sportsman’s Sketches chronicles the adventures of a hunter whose life, like that of his peasant carriers, is about to change for many reasons other than just the proclamation of 19 February 1861.
KeywordsIncome Stratification Hunt Defend Metaphor
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