Two Comedies by Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia: Oh, These Times! and The Siberian Shaman
Catherine the Great (1729-1796) wrote over two dozen plays and operettas, but not until this edition has a complete translation of any of them been available to an English- speaking readership.
Oh, These Times (1772) is a satirical attack on many vices Catherine wished to root out from her society: religious hypocrisy, superstition and slander. The main character, Mrs. Pious, is a superficially religious old woman who resembles Moliere's Tartuffe.
Catherine again sets her sights on superstition in The Siberian Shaman (1786), this time by satirizing shamanism as a deceitful profession which preys on the gullible. This play was part of a group of three plays usually known as Catherine's "anti-masonic" trilogy, written as a warning against the growing influence of the freemasons.
In a comprehensive introduction, Lurana Donnels O'Malley relates the plays to Catherine's status and philosophy.
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140 degrees Affectedly afraid Aleksandr Amban Amban-Lai angry BRAGIN brother BUTLER Catherine Catherine's plays century characters comic daughter dear departed dear fellow deceive dowry drama Ekaterina Dashkova Empress END OF ACT everything feminist FLENA DROBINA Freemasonry French frightened girl give granddaughter grandmother hand happy hear heard Hermitage Theatre husband IVAN PERNATOV KARP DROBIN KHRISTINA KROMOV lady leave letter listen literary looking madam marriage marry MARVEL matter matushka MAVRA MAVRA MILKSOP mistress Moscow mother neoclassical never Nikolai Erdman NOTSHALLOW Novikov operas papa Perhaps Petersburg playwright prayers Prelesta Nikolaevna PROKOFII Pypin ruble Russian comedies Russian Literature Russian Theatre SANCTIMONIOUS SANOV satire SCENE Siberian Shaman SIDOR DROBIN sister someone sorcerer Speaking slowly suitor superstition talk TATTLER tell there's things trilogy truth USTINIA MASHKINA What's Whispers wife women word write young