A Radical Worker in Tsarist Russia: The Autobiography of SemŽn Ivanovich Kanatchikov

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Stanford University Press, 1986 - Biography & Autobiography - 472 pages
SemŽn Kanatchikov, born in a central Russian village in 1879, was one of the thousands of peasants who made the transition from traditional village life to the life of an urban factory worker in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the last years of the nineteenth century. Unlike the others, however, he recorded his personal and political experiences (up to the even of the 1905 Revolution) in an autobiography. First published in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, this memoir gives us the richest and most thoughtful firsthand account we have of life among the urban lower classes in Imperial Russia.

We follow this shy but determined peasant youth's painful metamorphosis into a self-educated, skilled patternmaker, his politicization in the factories and workers' circles of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and his close but troubled relations with members of the liberal and radical intelligentsia.

Kanatchikov was an exceptionally sensitive and honest observer, and we learn much from his memoirs about the day-to-day life of villagers and urban workers, including such personal matters as religious beliefs, family tensions, and male-female relationships. We also learn about conditions in the Russian prisons, exile life in the Russian Far North, and the Bolshevik-Menshevik split as seen from the workers' point of view.

 

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It is a great book for better understanding of the Russian society under the oppression of the tsar, and to understand how and why the Russian revolution of 1905 took place. I highly recommend it.

Contents

My First Years l
1
In the Artel
7
In the Pattern Shop
14
Sushchy
24
The Beginning of My Apostasy
27
Khodynka
37
Sergey Petrovich
46
The Beginning of My Wanderings from Factory to Factory
50
To Unknown Shores Under Special Police Surveillance
180
The NonResister
183
The Liberal
186
Auntie Marseillaise
189
At the Volga Steel Mill
197
The Workers Group
203
Chizhik
210
The Artist
216

Am an Adult
55
o At the Mytishchensk Factory
65
Working for a Grater
75
ST PETERSBURG
81
In Piter
83
Vasilevsky Island
90
The Nevsky Gate Region
95
Our Cultural Life
102
At the Kornilov Evening School
109
My Arrest
117
In Prison
121
MY FIRST EXILE
137
Departure
139
The Meeting
145
Summer and Fall
149
At the Moscow Military Hospital
161
Working for a Tradesman
167
SARATOV
175
Introduction
177
At the Bering Factory Collaborator The Strike
233
A Prison to Some But to MeA Home
246
Unemployed
255
The Socialist Revolutionaries
268
Our Literature and Propaganda
286
The Cooperative Workshop
293
The Saratov Social Democratic Committee
302
The Demonstration
313
Ponty Denisov
318
In Prison Again
327
The Traitor
334
In Tsaritsyn Prison
342
To the Far North Under Military Escort
348
In Exile Again
361
The Liberal Spring
380
Editors Postscript
387
Notes
395
Selected Bibliography
469
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