My Life for the Book: The Memoirs of a Russian Publisher
Available at long last, this volume is the posthumous memoir of a peasant from the depths of old Russia who rose to great wealth and influence as his country's most successful publisher. Though never fully literate, Ivan Dmitrievich Sytin (1851-1934) was a shrewd businessman who made millions by publishing books for all manner of readers. My Life for the Book makes available the full text of Sytin's unpublished memoir, along with various writings by those who knew him. Through sharp and unremittingly ironic observations, Sytin describes with insight and amusement or dismay Tsarist Russia's bureaucracy, the Orthodox Church, the Imperial court, and a number of the country's most renowned writers, including Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky, and journalist Vlas Doroshevich. Sytin's memoir, a tale of Great Russian society voiced by a parvenu, depicts a pre-Revolutionary Russia of small shops, churches, convents, deep religious faith, and flawed rulers. While the Revolution eventually deprived Sytin of all means to continuing publishing, his resilience and enterprise remain a lasting legacy.
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