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date: 22 February 2024

Male Noble Dress in 19th-Century Russian Literaturefree

Male Noble Dress in 19th-Century Russian Literaturefree

  • Daniel GreenDaniel GreenUniversity of Cambridge


Dress was highly semiotically charged in 19th-century Russia. Clothing was a material representation of structures of power; this was a reality that writers were aware of and drew on in their work. What a person wore depended on their status, but also partly on their inclinations. Some clothes, such as uniforms, were legally prescribed, while others, such as fashionable dress, relied on generally understood codes. Noblemen used their clothing choices to negotiate their relationship with the state and to express their political leanings. At times they conformed with and at times they retreated from the norms of the public sphere. They also sometimes dressed in opposition to the status quo. Writers used the significances of different kinds of clothing to explore the nuances of social structures and how they affected individuals within society.


  • 19th Century (1800-1900)
  • Slavic and Eastern European Literatures
  • Cultural Studies

Noblemen and Imperial Russian Dress Culture

In imperial Russia, dress was not simply a matter of taste; what people wore had social and political significance. To understand 19th-century dress culture, it is necessary to look back to the Westernizing reforms of Peter the Great (r. 1682–1725), which introduced European models into state and social structures and brought in Western clothes for the nobility. Although dress laws were not uncommon in Europe and beyond, Peter’s reforms were unusual in their goal of transforming society, not just reinforcing its hierarchies.1 Subsequent rulers continued to legislate on dress and, by the turn of the 19th century, noblemen’s clothes were highly regulated, subject to both changing legislation and fashion.2

Clothing served as a site of struggle between an individual’s personal choices and self-presentation, on the one hand, and the rules and expectations of society, on the other. Authors reflected this reality in how they dressed their characters, exploring how clothing could mediate the power dynamics between the individual and the state. As literature blossomed into a professional endeavor in 19th-century Russia, writers used dress choices in their works to explore the freedoms and constrictions of their social worlds.

The evolving relationship between noblemen and the state can be traced by examining four types of clothing that played an important role in both Russian society and literature: the uniform, the tailcoat, the dressing gown, and peasant-style or shabby Western clothes. These case studies comprise dress options that were open to noblemen, who not only dominated Russian letters for much of the 19th century, but also spent their lives moving between the varied spheres of service, society, and the home.3 Their clothes were regulated by the state, influenced by fashion, and could also signal a withdrawal from or opposition to the social order.

The most strictly regulated form of clothing was the uniform. The appearance of uniform dress was legislated and thus allowed little room for variation. Fashionable clothing, which could be worn out in society, provided greater leeway; however, nobles were expected to conform to European norms. For men, this meant a tailcoat, waistcoat, shirt, and trousers. In completely private spaces, such as at home with one’s family, people were naturally free to wear whatever they pleased, but fashion and convention nonetheless exerted an influence. Finally, at times nobles would consciously dress in defiance of law and convention, asserting their independence from the state by wearing clothing considered inappropriate to the setting or their status. How noblemen navigated dress codes was a reflection of how they imagined their own place in the world: as individuals in the Russian state and as Russians in a European context.

The Uniform

The Russian term for uniform dress, mundir, comes from the German Montur, reflecting the Germanic origins of the imperial Russian uniform. When Peter the Great set about reforming Russia in the early 18th century, he borrowed the hierarchical model he imposed on the court, the army, the navy, and the civil service from Denmark, Sweden, and Prussia. This model was embodied in the table of ranks. Introduced in 1722, the table of ranks formalized the service relationship between the nobility and the state and allowed for movement in rank up its fourteen rungs.4 A person’s status was therefore not only a result of their parentage, but could also change through service to the emperor. This status was put on display for all to see through the details of one’s uniform. The uniform jacket, made from woolen broadcloth, was one of several dress elements that showed a man’s place of service as well as his rank and position. These were indicated through the use of piping, embroidery, buttons, cuffs, stripes, and epaulettes.

Most writers in the first half of the 19th century were noblemen. They had a place on the table of ranks and the majority held positions in service to the state.5 Some were in the army, and others, the civil service. Writers would have been intimately familiar with the differences in uniform dress that distinguished their wearer’s rank and position and what the consequences of being entitled—or not entitled—to certain uniforms might be.6 In Alexander Griboedov’s (1795–1829) play Woe from Wit (completed in 1824 and widely circulated in manuscript copies later that year), the young hero, Chatskii, satirizes the conflation of uniform, rank, and personal merit. In Nikolai Gogol’s [Mykola Hohol’] (1809–1852) “Diary of a Madman” (1835), the arbitrary significance of the details of uniform dress falls away as the main character, Poprishchin, descends into madness. Feeling trapped by his status as a titular councilor, he cannot live the life he wants or marry who he wants, and so the reality of the imperial social structure melts away, causing him to make some extraordinary dress choices.

Chatskii, in Woe from Wit, is clearly aware of the feminine preference for men in uniform and contrasts this social ideal with his own intellectualism. He suggests that wearing a uniform—which implies the wearer’s subservience to his superiors—precludes a man from thinking:

Now if one should appearAmong us young men: an enemy of striving,Who seeks neither position, nor elevation of rank,Who fixes his mind on learning, who craves knowledge;Or in whose soul God Himself has lit a fireFor the creative arts, lofty and beautiful,Then they would cry: fire! thief!They’d brand him a dreamer! A danger!! –The uniform! It’s all about the uniform! In times gone by,Embroidered and handsome, it would coverTheir pusillanimity and poverty of mind;They have left a happy path for us to follow!Wives and daughters have the same passion for uniforms!And did not I myself only recently disavow my fondness for them?!Now I would not fall into such childishness,But who back then could resist following after the rest?When for a time men would arrive hereFrom the Guards or the court,And women would cry out: “huzzah!”And throw their bonnets in the air!7

Chatskii’s love interest Sofia’s 65-year-old aunt, Khlestova, likewise has little interest in uniforms, having no stake in the marriage market. When the dashing young colonel Skalozub appears on the scene, his uniform, decorations, and prospects for military promotion are of great interest to Sofia’s father and servant. However, her aunt confuses the regiment to which the young man belongs: she is unable to distinguish between the Grenadiers and the Grand Duke’s Fusiliers. He explains to her: “Yet there are differences in the uniforms: the edging, shoulder straps, and collar tabs.” To Khlestova’s delight, Skalozub is taken away from her to the whist table, cutting this conversation short, and she remarks to Sofia, “Ugh! I really escaped the noose there.”8 This is a pun on the double meaning of the word petlia, which can refer to either a buttonhole or a hangman’s noose and which shares a root with the term used by Skalozub to describe his uniform collar tabs (petlichki—a diminutive derived from petlitsy). Under normal circumstances, Skalozub’s uniform would make him a desirable catch; however, Sofia does not conform with the usual social standards, instead pinning her affections on the lowly secretary Molchalin.

From the outside, a uniform might be used by society to judge a bachelor’s eligibility. For its wearer, though, it might more strongly define his relationship with the state. The effect of the uniform on the individual—particularly the more lowly civil servant—was explored by Gogol in several stories set in St. Petersburg, including “The Diary of a Madman.” The story is narrated through diary entries. From the perspective of the main character, Poprishchin, it is a love story. The reader, however, follows Poprishchin’s descent into madness as his anxieties over rank fuel his obsession with what people wear and warp his perception of the world.

Poprishchin falls in love with Sofia, who is the daughter of a “general,” that is, someone positioned within the top four rungs on the table of ranks.9 Poprishchin, as a titular councilor, is only on the ninth rung. This is a position that bestows noble status on him, but is not sufficiently advanced for that status to be hereditary, and it is certainly a long way below the rank of Sofia’s father.10 In an imagined correspondence between dogs “intercepted” by Poprishchin, he learns that Sofia will soon be married to a higher-ranking man, and he rants about the imagined suitor:

What of it that he is a kammerjunker. That’s nothing more than a rank; it isn’t something visible, something you can hold in your hands. That he is a kammerjunker doesn’t add a third eye to his forehead. He doesn’t have a nose made of gold, but one like mine, one like everyone else’s; he doesn’t use it to eat but to smell and he sneezes rather than coughs with it. I have several times wanted to get down to the source of these differences. Why am I a titular councilor, what is the reason for me being a titular councilor? Perhaps I am some count or general and I just think I am a titular councilor? Perhaps I just don’t know who I am. After all, how many examples are there from history: here’s a simple person, not quite a nobleman, but just a merchant or even a peasant, and suddenly it turns out that he’s a grandee or sometimes even the sovereign. If that can sometimes happen to a muzhik, what might happen to a nobleman? What if I turned up one day in a general’s uniform with an epaulette on my right shoulder, an epaulette on my left shoulder, and a blue ribbon between my shoulders?

Poprishchin’s meditation on what it means to have a particular rank considers a person’s outer qualities without taking into account other factors that might determine status. He reasons that, beneath their clothing, there is nothing tangible that makes a person one rank or another. For him, then, rank is reduced to externalities: what a person wears determines their rank rather than rank determining what a person wears. So, if he dresses up as a general, why should that not make him a general? On the basis of this thinking, he loses his sense of identity and considers the possibility that dressing for the position he wants rather than the one he has will elevate him up the table of ranks.

In this state of uncertainty, Poprishchin becomes obsessed by the stories in the newspapers about the Spanish succession crisis. Having unshackled himself from the table of ranks, and with nothing tethering him to the reality of his bureaucratic Petersburg life, Poprishchin comes to believe that he is the king of Spain. As his sense of identity falters, so too does he begin to lose reference points in time and space. The dates of his diary entries become erratic: the passage in which he claims to be Spanish royalty is dated April 43, 2000.

Poprishchin considers it necessary to introduce himself to the Russian emperor, but only once he is dressed as befits a Spanish king, thus revealing his identity through his clothes. He therefore takes his uniform coat, cuts it into pieces, and tailors it into a king’s robe. As a consequence of these efforts, he ends up in an insane asylum, believing it to be the Spanish court.

At the heart of Poprishchin’s slide into insanity lies his inability to recognize the forces that order society. He makes an unsuccessful attempt to advance his status by changing his clothes because he ignores the intangible power structures that are mediated by uniform dress. The service culture of imperial Russia allows for advancement, but it is also meant to keep people in their place. In the end, Poprishchin seeks to transcend the table of ranks entirely by imagining himself as the Spanish king—an elevated position for which there is no place in a Russian hierarchy. Yet both his intention to introduce himself to the emperor with his new status and his manufacture of Spanish royal robes from his Russian uniform indicate that even in his madness, Poprishchin cannot avoid the uneasy sense that status in Russia remains solidly under imperial jurisdiction.

Figure 1. Nicholas I in a military uniform. “Portret van Nicolaas I Pavlovitsj, tsaar van Rusland” by Benoît Taurel, 1843. From the Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands. CC0 1.0 Universal. Public Domain.

The Tailcoat

The Russian word for tailcoat, frak, derives from the French froc, and, as such, conjures up a social sphere based on European modes of behavior and French fashions. Like its European counterpart, the Russian tailcoat was made from dark woolen broadcloth. Though broadcloth was manufactured in Russia, those who could afford to do so would often have their clothes made from higher quality fabric imported from abroad.11 Attitudes toward the tailcoat were connected to Russia’s relationship with European culture. They changed according to public feeling and the whims of the emperor, which were not always in agreement. For instance, Paul I (r. 1796–1801) had an aversion to fashionable European dress, which he considered symbolic of the kind of radical thinking that had ushered in the French Revolution. During his reign, nobles were forbidden from wearing French fashions and were instead required to wear clothes based on the Germanic uniforms he had introduced for the army. This meant doing away with waistcoats, tailcoats, and top hats and replacing them with single-breasted jackets and tricorn hats.12 Upon Paul’s death, Russian nobles immediately rejoined the current of European fashion. Yet the fashionable European dress that was required of them under subsequent emperors caused some nobles to question whether they were losing contact with native Russian culture.

Throughout the 19th century, what nobles wore out in society provided the most visible manifestation of their struggles over national identity. Griboedov brought these struggles to the stage. In Woe from Wit, Chatskii, a young nobleman recently returned from abroad, brings an outside perspective to Russian society. He argues that Russia has fallen into empty imitation of the West, epitomized by its adoption of the tailcoat. The idea that Russian high society blindly imitates European norms was later taken up in Alexander Pushkin’s (1799–1837) Eugene Onegin (1825–1832). Pushkin also uses clothing to engage in debates about how Russian literary language ought to look, as well as the complicated status of the country’s national literature.

Griboedov’s Chatskii pulls no punches when criticizing Moscow’s appearance-obsessed society and its aping of Western dress:

Call me an Old Believer,But our North has become a hundred times worse for meSince it exchanged everything it had for a new mode –Its customs, its language, its holy past,And its majestic clothes have been swapped for othersSuch as jesters might wear:A tail at the back and a marvelous opening in front,Against common sense, in defiance of the elements;Movement is constrained and it doesn’t look good;Funny, shaven, gray-haired chins…!13

Here, Chatskii is describing the tailcoat, which was the mainstay of respectable male dress throughout Europe at the time, as well as the shaven beards that were required of Russian nobles after 1705. Throughout the play, Chatskii resists suggestions that he should put on a uniform again, continuing his earlier careers in the military and civil service. He disdains not only service life, but the social sphere as well. The feeling proves to be mutual. Society rejects him in turn, easily believing Sofia when she starts a rumor that Chatskii has gone mad. Ultimately, he decides to leave the country: there is no place in Russian society for Chatskii and his nonconformist views.

Alexander Pushkin’s hero, Evgenii Onegin, likewise rejects society, but before he does so, he demonstrates the range of fashion choices available to a young nobleman. In the first chapter of Eugene Onegin, the reader joins the titular character in attending the social events of a single day. Introduced as a “London dandy,” Onegin wakes to three invitations for that evening, all of which he intends to accept.14 His social life begins even earlier, however, with a stroll along Nevsky Prospect, the main thoroughfare in St. Petersburg and a place to see and be seen. This activity shows the influence of the habits of Emperor Alexander I (r. 1801–1825). Yet while the emperor typically wore a uniform on his promenade, Onegin dresses in his “morning garb,” which would have been based on European fashion and thus would have comprised a woolen tailcoat, waistcoat, and cotton trousers.15 The reader is told that Onegin wears not just any top hat, but a wide-brimmed bolivar, named after the Latin American liberation fighter Simón Bolívar (1783–1830). This was a popular item of headwear in Russia at the time, and it indicated its wearer’s radical political views.16 Pushkin himself wore one.17 Through his promenade, Onegin imitates the emperor in behavior while following French fashion in his clothing and indicating his politics through his choice of hat. Thus, he both follows conventions and complicates them through the choices he makes.

The narrator points out that following European fashions, as noblemen were expected to do, has implications in other areas of culture—specifically, when it comes to deciding what Russia’s literary language ought to look like. Onegin makes several costume changes for the various events he attends. On his third change of clothes, the reader is brought into Onegin’s “solitary study,” where he is dressing in front of numerous mirrors.18 There, the narrator sets himself the task of describing the range of garments in a fashionable man’s wardrobe, but runs into difficulty:

But pantaloons, tailcoat, waistcoat:None of these words exist in Russian;Yet I see, I confess before youThat, as it is, my poor idiomWould be more vibrantFor using far fewer foreign words,Although I used to dip from time to timeInto the Academic Dictionary.19

In Russian, the words “pantaloons,” “tailcoat,” and “waistcoat” (pantalony, frak, zhilet) are all borrowings from French. The narrator points out that he would not be able to give Slavonic equivalents for these items because Russian does not have the words to describe the realia of the Europeanized fashionable world.20 This is an implicit dig against the writer, admiral, and minister of education under two tsars, Alexander Shishkov (1754–1841), who railed against the loss of Slavonicisms in favor of foreign borrowings and was a supporter of the late 18th-century dictionary produced by the Academy of Sciences that was notable for its avoidance of such borrowings.21 This extract provides a clear rebuke to those who sought to police literary language and exclude French borrowings at a time when the expectation was that noblemen would wear European-style clothes.

The description of Onegin as he emerges from his dressing room hints at the complexity of the status of Western clothing. An unusual comparison is made:

Like a flighty VenusWhen, adorned in male dress,The goddess travels to a masquerade.22

Onegin is compared to the Roman goddess of beauty dressed up as a man. The cross-dressing in this passage can be explained by its reference to the masquerade, a type of social event in which people could dress as something they were not. In this context, men and women could wear each other’s clothes. The mentions of Venus and cross-dressing also point to the idea that Westernized clothing was inherently theatrical and that dandies complicated the gender divide by adopting traditionally female behavior.23 This layering of masks pulls us away from the apparent intimacy of Onegin’s dressing room and points toward the idea that appearances can be deceiving.24 Onegin’s elusiveness is later commented on by his love interest, Tatiana, who visits his library after Onegin has quit his countryside residence. Paging through Onegin’s books, Tatiana wonders if he is “a Muscovite in Harold’s cloak.” This is a reference to Lord Byron’s (1788–1824) Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812–1818), one of the few books which Onegin has read. It occurs to Tatiana that, though she is familiar with Onegin’s outward appearance, she does not know what kind of person he is underneath. Noting the similarity between Onegin and Byron’s hero, she poses her famous question: “Is he not a parody?”25 This question is connected to a larger one implicit in the writing of Evgenii Onegin: how can Russia develop a national literary tradition that is not merely imitative of Western models? Onegin’s interest in the outward appearances of the Westernized man may be an outer shell with nothing held within. If Russians simply copy Western customs, might they end up as similar empty shells?

Figure 2. Fashion plate from the popular French fashion journal, Journal des dames et des modes (1826), showing a man in a tailcoat, waistcoat, trousers, and top hat. From the Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands. CC0 1.0 Universal. Public Domain.

The Dressing Gown

The dressing gown is Asian in origin and the Russian word for it—khalat—is derived from an Arabic root. This item of dress was also widespread in Europe, where Orientalized clothing had become popular in the 18th century.26 The dressing gown could be made from a range of materials, such as silk, satin, cotton, or wool. It stood out in the male wardrobe for its vibrant colors and often lavish embroidery, which contrasted with the dark palette that typified the tailcoat.27 The stylistic differences between the dressing gown and the other clothes a nobleman would wear underscore the distinctive sphere in which it was worn: the private home. The dressing gown was considered a domestic, intimate item of clothing. It was worn at home when “in a state of undress” (neodetyi). However, it was also suitable attire to wear when receiving visitors.28 It was thus a paradoxical item: both non-European and yet worn throughout Europe; worn privately, but also semipublicly.

Because the dressing gown was worn in the unregulated domestic sphere, it was used to represent a variety of freedoms. In Petr Viazemskii’s (1792–1878) poem “Farewell to My Dressing Gown” (1817), the poet extols the garment’s ability to inspire and nurture creativity. The hero of Ivan Goncharov’s (1812–1891) Oblomov (1859) uses the dressing gown to escape his everyday concerns by retreating into a dream world. Finally, Lev Tolstoy’s (1828–1910) Anna Karenina (1875–1878) opens with a scene detailing the consequences of Stiva Oblonskii’s unfettered sensuality, which is linked to the dressing gown.

While at home with family or other intimates, a nobleman was free from the expectations of the service world and society that went along with the uniform and the tailcoat. For many writers, the dressing gown represented an opportunity to create and to find artistic inspiration. After receiving a government post, Viazemskii wrote his “Farewell to My Dressing Gown”, in which he regrets the creative life he is leaving.29 It is not only the free time he will miss, but the freedom of mind that comes with having the space to think.

Thus, casting off the livery of the reception roomAnd along with it the yoke of fastidious vanity,I revived when, clothed in my dressing gown,I was once more reconciled with the Penates.30

Neither in a uniform nor in fashionable clothes (here “the livery of the reception room”) can the poet feel connected to the Penates, Roman household gods often associated with creativity.31 Viazemskii goes on to denigrate the creative work of those poets who do not shake off the considerations of the social sphere before picking up their quills:

How pitiful I find that unloved lover of the musesWho has never experienced the tenderness of the dressing gown!32

The poem goes on to ridicule the writer who enters his study dressed up as if going to a ball, suggesting that such writers are capable of producing only mediocre, uninspired art. Can a person truly be a poet, Viazemskii seems to ask, if they have not spent time in a dressing gown?

For Viazemskii, the dressing gown is linked with lofty moments of artistic inspiration; however, it is often associated with a different, more passive kind of dreaming. The most famous dressing gown in Russian literature belongs to a man who spends his time in idle reverie: the titular character in Goncharov’s Oblomov, who does not manage to leave his bed until the final pages of Part 1. Over the course of this novel, the hero finds himself torn between the pleasurable indolence he finds in the domestic sphere and the need to be a part of wider society. The story opens with him lying in bed, still in his dressing gown, resisting the entreaties of his servant and his friends to get up and engage in social activities. This description appears in Chapter 1:

How well Oblomov’s domestic dress suited the peaceful features of his face and his pampered body! He was wearing a dressing gown of Persian material, a real Eastern dressing gown without the slightest hint of Europe, without tassels, without velvet, without a waist, and very roomy so that even Oblomov could wrap himself up in it twice. The sleeves, following an unchanging Asiatic fashion, grew wider and wider as they ascended from the fingers to the shoulder. And though this dressing gown had lost its original freshness, and though in places its pristine, natural luster had been taken over by another, more acquired one, it still preserved the brilliance of its Eastern color and its material remained strong.

In Oblomov’s eyes, the dressing gown had a multitude of invaluable qualities: it was soft and pliable; the body didn’t feel its presence; like an obedient slave it submitted itself to the body’s slightest movements.

At home, Oblomov never wore a tie or waistcoat because he liked to be unrestricted and free. The shoes he wore were long, soft, and wide; he always found them immediately when, without looking, he lowered his feet from the bed to the floor.33

Oblomov’s only requirement for his clothing is that it not restrict him. Here, the freedom he seeks is physical: that his body not be confined by tight European dress. Yet Oblomov also avoids both service and social obligations, which are represented by the clothes he would be expected to don for each type of interaction and which he does not enjoy wearing. In the opening chapters of the novel, visitor after visitor appears and asks him to attend social events, but in each case, he makes an excuse. Instead, he focuses on his domestic concerns, which are twofold: his upcoming eviction from his apartment and the poor management of his estate, Oblomovka. Handling the first of these would require Oblomov to think about moving out of his safe domestic space and into the wider world, while dealing with the second would necessitate engaging either with the estate directly or with people and institutions that could help him. Oblomov blanches at both prospects and retreats instead to fantasizing about his domestic felicity, making plans for the estate that he will never realize and dreaming of his childhood in Oblomovka.

In line with Orientalist stereotypes, Oblomov’s dressing gown becomes an object which exists outside of fluctuating European fashions and which thus provides him a timeless, changeless space in which bodily comfort gives free reign to dreams and memories. That Oblomov removes himself from active engagement in society has been read positively as an avoidance of the frantic, Westernized lifestyle and negatively as a sign of Russia’s Eastern indolence, which was holding the country back.34

Lev Tolstoy explores the dangerous associations of the dressing gown with bodily comfort and pleasure at the start of Anna Karenina. The novel opens with Anna’s brother, the charming but irresponsible Stiva Oblonskii, waking on the sofa in his study, where he has slept because he has been discovered having an affair with the governess. Like Oblomov, Stiva has made sure that everything in his house is set up for his comfort; he, too, upon waking, can reach down with his feet to find his footwear without looking. In his case, this footwear is a pair of slippers that have been embroidered by his long-suffering wife. But when he reaches out for his dressing gown, he finds that it is not where he expects it to be because he is not waking in the usual place. Stiva’s attempts to find his dressing gown in the wrong room shows his expectation that his home comforts will still remain in place even while he seeks intimacy elsewhere. Just as his affair foreshadows that of his sister, so too does he share a dressing gown color with her—gray.

Across these three examples, the dressing gown acts as a marker of a character’s private life; their attitude toward it shows how they order their domestic existence. For Viazemskii, the dressing gown represents creative freedom, while Goncharov’s Oblomov dons it as a kind of armor against the harsh realities of life. Finally, Tolstoy uses this item of clothing to explore the consequences of indulging one’s baser sensual side.

Figure 3. Fashion plate from La Mode (1830) showing a man in his dressing gown receiving a visitor. From the Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands. CC0 1.0 Universal. Public Domain.

Dressing Down

For Russian noblemen, wearing clothes other than Western fashion or uniforms out in public was seen as a dangerous political act. The Slavophile Konstantin Aksakov (1817–1860), who hoped to shift Russia away from the West and restore “native” values, began wearing a version of pre-Petrine noble clothing in the 1840s. As a result, he was subjected to the opprobrium of the court and his contemporaries.35 Later in the century, however, as social distinctions broke down, dressing outside social norms became more common and people of various political stripes began to show their leanings through their clothes.

At the same time, the political significance of clothing heightened as those who lacked a clear status in the old imperial hierarchies strove to find their place in society. The table of ranks struggled to accommodate shifting social dynamics, which had been thrown off balance by the emergence of a significant number of raznochintsy (literally, “people of various ranks”) by the mid-19th century. Originally, this was an official term to describe those who were neither peasants nor nobles, but it later came to encompass a social group which included those who had recently achieved noble status, often through state service.36 The breakdown of the clear social categories of the earlier imperial period was further accelerated by the Great Reforms introduced by Emperor Alexander II (r. 1855–1881), which included the abolition of serfdom and the modernization of the judicial, military, and educational systems, giving rise to new professional groups. Subsequently, intensified industrialization and urbanization under Alexander III (r. 1881–1894) and Nicholas II (r. 1894–1917) created an urban working class which did not have a place in the old social structures. By the end of the century, the social fabric of Russian society had been transformed, and with it the clothes people wore to indicate their status.37

Clothing became an important tool in opposing the social order of the day, particularly for those interested in reform or more radical change. Yet dressing in a nonconformist manner and finding the right clothing to convey social critique was a far from straightforward act. In the second half of the 19th century, two writers from ancient noble families, Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883) and Lev Tolstoy, used their characters’ relationships with clothing to explore different ideas about Russia’s future path. Both Turgenev, in the early reform period, and Tolstoy, several decades into the modernization effort, demonstrated that rejecting the status quo might be easy, but that living according to different ideologies is hard. Turgenev’s main character in Fathers and Children (1862), the raznochinets Bazarov, attempts to reject all social niceties, including dress codes.38 However, he ends up discovering that the contempt he expresses for arbitrary clothing conventions is no more than an act, and in the end, he is unable to maintain either his rational nihilist views or his rejection of fashionable clothing. Tolstoy’s Father Sergius in the story of the same name (completed 1898, published 1911) also finds himself unable to commit to the clothes he chooses to signal his rejection of society: monk’s robes. Originally not just a nobleman but a prince, he changes his style of dress multiple times in an attempt to turn away from state and social structures and find a means of living closer to God.39

Fathers and Children appeared a year after the emancipation manifesto and is set in 1859 in its immediate lead-up. Change is very much in the air, and with it comes conflict, driven by the appearance and radical views of the young nihilist Bazarov. With his long hair and shabby clothes, Bazarov epitomizes the new man.40 He is the son of a doctor and a noblewoman and values his scientific rather than humanistic education. He begins the story ready to shock. As a nihilist, he rejects culture, including dress codes, in favor of rationality. Fashion, with its arbitrary symbolism, has no place in his stated ideology. When he first appears, traveling with his friend Arkady to visit the latter’s family, he does not wear the greatcoat (shinel’) that would be expected of students, but a loose peasant overcoat—a balakhon.41

Upon arrival at Arkady’s family home, Bazarov directly challenges the aristocratism of his friend’s uncle, Pavel Petrovich Kirsanov, whose values are embodied in his fastidious following of European fashion. Kirsanov appears perfumed, with long nails, in patent leather boots and an English suit whose foreign pedigree is accentuated in the text: it is referred to using a Cyrillic transliteration of the English word “suit.” His adherence to the latest trends is shown by his tie, an item of clothing whose form changed frequently according to fashion; in the story, he wears it stylishly low.42 He explains to Bazarov that the personal dignity embodied in his clothes and behavior is necessary for “social structure.”43 Bazarov, in contrast, sees his dress as an affectation, remarking about Pavel Petrovich’s appearance: “Such foppishness in the countryside, imagine!”44

Bazarov is bold in his criticism of others, yet the forcefulness of his critique reveals something crucial: a persistent attention to the details of dress. In his pointed rejection of dress codes, Bazarov acknowledges their significance. In fact, clothing is very important to him.45 That he chooses to wear a balakhon for effect is shown by his later donning of the expected greatcoat. And despite his protestations that he does not care about appearances, he frequently thinks about and comments on the gap between what he wears and the expectations of him. When he visits the home of the woman he will fall in love with, Anna Sergeevna Odintsova, he remarks on the dress codes that would be suitable for such an elegant household, dryly commenting to Arkady, “My goodness, should we be wearing tailcoats?”46 His encounter with Odintsova brings to the surface the conflict Bazarov experiences between his feelings and his stated beliefs. Most clearly, he struggles with his disdain for romantic love when he finds himself falling for Odintsova, a personal transformation that does not end positively, as she ultimately rejects his advances.

Bazarov’s discovery that he is not immune to such irrational behavior as falling in love goes hand in hand with the relaxation of his stringent antifashion stance. Before he takes his leave of Odintsova for what turns out to be the penultimate time, Bazarov is prepared to make the sartorial changes he feels necessary: “Bazarov got changed before going to her. It turned out that he had packed some new clothes so that they would be quickly to hand.”47 The planning that went into his packing and the newness of his clothes highlight the significance he attributes to them. Yet Bazarov is unable or unwilling to change his ideological standpoint, even though he recognizes that he cannot live up to its central tenets. At the end of the story, his principles broken, he dies as a result of a cut to his finger during a typhus autopsy. On his deathbed, he reflects on his own value to society, comparing it unfavorably to that of a cobbler, a tailor, or a butcher.48 Significantly, two of his three examples of socially useful professions have to do with the making of clothes. However, Bazarov’s worldview is shown to be limited by his cultural context. The cobbler and the tailor make impractical, fashionable European clothes worn by only a small section of society—Russian peasants traditionally wove their own bast shoes and wore loose clothing that did not require specialized skills to make.49 In the end, Bazarov is unable to suggest a replacement to the norms he rails against; instead, he finds himself conforming to them against his will.50

Tolstoy’s story “Father Sergius” focuses not on a period of national reform, but on one man’s lifelong spiritual journey. Before he becomes Father Sergius, the main character is a society high-flyer named Prince Kasatskii, whose ambitious social climbing takes him to the brink of becoming an aide-de-camp to the emperor. However, the shock of discovering that his fiancée had been mistress to Nicholas I (r. 1825–1855) spurs him to leave high society and become a monk. And so begins his quest to live a more spiritual life and overcome his dual weaknesses: ambition and lust. Yet at each stage, he finds that his rejection of conventional life is insufficient until he finally finds himself living in exile in Siberia.

At the beginning of the story, Prince Kasatskii is a young man dedicated to serving the state, invested in the hierarchies of imperial society. His admiration for the emperor is tied up with the latter’s appearance in uniform:

Every time Nikolai Pavlovich [Emperor Nicholas I] came to the military college—and he visited them often—as soon as that tall figure sporting trimmed sideburns and a military jacket briskly entered the room, chest puffed out and aquiline nose sticking out over his moustache, to greet the cadets in a booming voice, Kasatskii would experience the raptures of a man in love, the same raptures he would later experience when meeting the object of his affections.51

Kasatskii’s adoration of the man at the head of the imperial hierarchy is based on outer appearances and is compared to the feelings of lust he experiences with women, which he struggles with even after becoming a monk.

Taking holy orders would appear to provide a solution to the temptations of ambition and lust. This is a significant rejection of state service and his previous connections with society, yet it is still an acceptable path for a nobleman to take in imperial Russia. However, much to his disappointment, the change in clothing and rank when he becomes a monk does not produce the inner transformation that Kasatskii-Sergius so desires. He still feels ambition in the monastery and so he moves away to a cave to live as a hermit.

While living in the cave, he looks back on his time in the monastery and realizes that his monk’s clothes had presented a version of himself to the world that was at odds with what was happening inside him:

No sooner had he started praying than before him he saw a vivid image of himself as he had been in the monastery: majestic in a klobuk [an Orthodox monk’s head covering] and robes. And he shook his head. “No, it’s not right. It’s a deception. Others I can deceive, but not myself and not God. I am not a majestic man, but a pathetic and ridiculous one.” And he threw back the skirts of his cassock and looked at his pathetic legs in their underclothes. And he smiled.52

Sergius symbolically strips his legs down to his long undergarments, hoping to see beyond his clothes to the person underneath. This provides him some temporary satisfaction, but the feeling does not last for long. He finds that he still has not changed in the way he had hoped. The erotic potential that comes with removing his outer clothes, which symbolize monkish chastity, and smiling while looking at his undergarments foreshadows the test he will undergo that very night when the widow Makovkina tricks her way into his cave and attempts to seduce him.53 Standing on the other side of a door, she undresses, representing the baring of Sergius’s hidden but persistent lust. He does not give in to temptation on this occasion; instead, he cuts off a finger to stop himself. However, he eventually succumbs to his sexual desires and realizes he can no longer act out a monkish existence. At this point, Sergius takes the drastic step of rejecting even the monastic hierarchy, swapping his monk’s robes for a peasant shirt, trousers, caftan, and hat. Disguised in this way, he escapes from his hermit’s dwelling, but he does not know where to go, either literally or metaphorically. At this point, he considers suicide and decides that God must not exist.

It is his poor cousin Pashenka, who married badly and is now the main support for her family, who provides a model for what to do next: “Pashenka is exactly what I should have been, but was not. I have lived for people under the pretext of living for God, while she has lived for God, imagining that she is living for people.”54 Sergius continues to wear his peasant clothes, but now no longer as a costume: he becomes a wandering pilgrim and lives outside of social norms. In doing so, he transforms his inner self to coincide with his humble outer appearance. When he has a run-in with the authorities and is arrested for not having a passport, he seals his rejection of society by choosing not to reveal his identity—in other words, he does not allow the authorities to place him in the social hierarchy. The story ends with Sergius living a simple life in exile in Siberia.

There is a degree of ambivalence to this ending. While it seems that Sergius’s rejection of society is clear cut, society has also rejected him. The reader is left with a superficial description of his labor: his work tending a vegetable garden, teaching, and looking after the sick. The reader is no longer privy to Sergius’s inner spiritual life, which has been the driving force of the story up until this point.

Both Turgenev and Tolstoy’s protagonists use their dress choices to signal a rejection of society, but they do so in opposite ways. Turgenev’s Bazarov, who adopts Western-influenced nihilism, feels lost after discovering that he cannot live outside social norms, while Tolstoy’s Sergius attempts to get closer to spiritual salvation by increasingly withdrawing from all social ties and turning to ever simpler ways of living. In both cases, the freedom that might be associated with rejecting society’s values proves hard, if not impossible, to achieve.

Figure 4. A famous photograph of Lev Tolstoy in peasant-style clothes, which he first started wearing in the 1860s. “L. N. Tolstoi. In Iasnaia Poliana.” 1908. From Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Prokudin-Gorskii Collection, reproduction number LC-DIG-prok-01971.

Conclusion and Further Threads to Follow

Over the course of the 19th century, Russian writers used clothing to explore the relationship between the individual and the state and its social order. Uniforms offered little room for negotiation, while fashionable dress allowed its wearers some freedom of expression. However, Western-style clothing also brought with it questions of national identity. World fashion had its centers outside of Russia and was a relatively recent import. What is more, it contrasted with the traditional clothing worn by Russia’s majority peasant population. Nobles could gain some breathing room from social expectations by retreating into their domestic realms in their dressing gowns, or they could skirt the edges of respectability by dressing down in clothes normally worn by those of a lower social status.

Yet it was not only noblemen who had complicated and changing relationships with the state. Male noble voices predominated in the literary sphere, particularly in the first half of the century, but both they and other writers dealt with the complex social relationships embodied in the dress of other groups. For example, noblewomen, unlike their male peers, were expected to wear elements of traditional Russian dress. But, like their counterparts in the West, they lived in an evolving world in which the role of women was being transformed and with it their clothing options. Radical alterations in Russia’s social structure in the second half of the century also led to dramatic changes in distinctions in dress between social groups: following the Emancipation Manifesto of 1861, peasants began to wear the same Westernized clothes as the inhabitants of towns and cities.55 Meanwhile, a new type of dress appeared in urban areas. Known as “town costume,” it was inspired by traditional folk styles.56 There is much more to be said about these clothing contexts and how they are reflected in literature.

By reincorporating the context of dress into readings of 19th-century literature, it is possible not only to recover nuances in characterization, but also to gain a deeper understanding of the social dynamics with which the works engage. Clothing plays a key role in shaping individuals’ identities and is at the heart of many of the biggest questions 19th-century Russian literature wrestled with.

Further Reading

    In English
    • Bowers, Katherine. “Unpacking Viazemskii’s Khalat: The Technologies of Dilettantism in Early Nineteenth-Century Russian Literary Culture.” Slavic Review 74, no. 3 (Fall 2015): 529–552.
    • Mcquillen, Colleen. “Satires of Fashionable Clothing and Literature in Nineteenth-Century Russia.” Clothing Cultures 3, no. 3 (2016): 247–263.
    • Reyfman, Irina. Rank and Style: Russians in State Service, Life, and Literature. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2012.
    • Reyfman, Irina. How Russia Learned to Write: Literature and the Imperial Table of Ranks. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2016.
    • Ruane, Christine. “Subjects into Citizens: The Politics of Clothing in Imperial Russia.” In Fashioning the Body Politic: Dress, Gender, Citizenship. Edited by Wendy Parkins, 49–70. Oxford: Berg, 2002.
    • Ruane, Christine. The Empire’s New Clothes: A History of the Russian Fashion Industry, 1700–1917. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.
    • Vainshtein, Ol’ga. “Russian Dandyism: Constructing a Man of Fashion.” Translated by Dan Healey. In Russian Masculinities in History and Culture. Edited by Barbara Evans Clemens, Rebecca Friedman, and Dan Healy, 51–75. New York: Palgrave, 2002.
    In Russian
    • Kirsanova, Raisa. Rozovaia ksandreika i dradedamovyi platok. Moscow: Kniga, 1989.
    • Kirsanova, Raisa. Russkii kostium i byt XVIII–XIX vekov. Moscow: Slovo, 2002.
    • Khoroshilova, Ol’ga. Voina i moda: Ot Petra I do Putina. Moscow: Eterna, 2018.
    • Shepelev, Leonid. Chinovnyi mir Rossii: XVIII—nachalo XX v. St. Petersburg, Russia: Iskusstvo-SPB, 1999.


  • 1. Victoria Ivleva, “Frills and Perils of Fashion: Politics and Culture of the Eighteenth-Century Russian Court through the Eyes of La Mode,” in Eighteenth-Century Thing Theory in a Global Context: From Consumerism to Celebrity Culture, ed. Ileana Baird and Christina Ionescu (Farnham, Surrey, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013), 115. For a summary of dress and sumptuary laws around the world, see Ulinka Rublack and Giorgio Riello, “Introduction,” in The Right to Dress: Sumptuary Laws in a Global Perspective c. 1200–1800 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 1–33.

  • 2. For the most comprehensive history of clothing in imperial Russia in English, see Christine Ruane, The Empire’s New Clothes: A History of the Russian Fashion Industry 1700–1917 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009).

  • 3. For a discussion of the different spheres in which noblemen operated, see Iurii Lotman, “Bal,” in Besedy o russkoi kul’ture (St. Petersburg, Russia: Iskusstvo-SPB, 1994), 119–137.

  • 4. For a summary of the relationship between nobility and service, see Derek Offord, Nineteenth-Century Russia: Opposition to Autocracy (New York: Longman, 1999), 2–3.

  • 5. For a detailed study on the relationship between writers’ service lives and their literature, see Irina Reyfman, How Russia Learned to Write: Literature and the Imperial Table of Ranks (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2016).

  • 6. For an examination of how rank titles, offices, and ceremonial awards worked together to form hierarchies in imperial Russia, see H. A. Bennett, “Chiny, Ordena, and Officialdom,” in Russian Officialdom: The Bureaucratization of Russian Society from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century, ed. W. M. Pintner and D. K. Rowney (London: Macmillan, 1980), 162–189.

  • 7. Aleksandr Griboedov, Gore ot uma, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v trekh tomakh, vol. 1, ed. S. A. Fomichev et al. (St. Petersburg, Russia: Notabene, 1995), 9–122.

  • 8. Griboedov, Gore ot uma, 201–202.

  • 9. Though Sofia’s father is in the civil service, it was common for people to refer to themselves and others using the corresponding military rank. Each rung on the table of ranks described equivalent ranks in the army, navy, civil service, and court. The top four rungs in the army comprised various types of generals.

  • 10. Reyfman, How Russia Learned, 7.

  • 11. Ruane, Empire’s New Clothes, 24.

  • 12. Ol’ga Khoroshilova, Voina i moda: Ot Petra I do Putina (Moscow: Eterna, 2018), 36–37.

  • 13. Griboedov, Gore ot uma, 96.

  • 14. A. S. Pushkin, Evgenii Onegin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v shestnadtsati tomakh, vol. 6, ed. B. V. Tomashevskii (Moscow, Russia: AN SSSR, 1937), 1–205. For more on the role of the dandy in European and Russian culture, see Ol’ga Vainshtein, Dendi: Moda, literature, stil’ zhizni (Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2021).

  • 15. V. A. Koshelev, “Bul’var,” in Oneginskaia entsiklopediia, vol. 1, ed. N. I. Mikhailovaia (Moscow: Russkii put’, 1999), 1: 141–143; and Pushkin, Evgenii Onegin, 11.

  • 16. Raisa Kirsanova, Rozovaia ksandreika i dradedamovyi platok (Moscow: Kniga, 1989), 50.

  • 17. T. J. Binyon, Pushkin: A Biography (London: HarperCollins, 2002), 42–43.

  • 18. Pushkin, Evgenii Onegin, 14.

  • 19. Pushkin, Evgenii Onegin, 16.

  • 20. For an examination of how the Russian fashion press wrestled with the terminology to describe French fashion, see Olga Vassilieva-Codognet, “The French Language of Fashion in Early Nineteenth-Century Russia,” in French and Russian in Imperial Russia, vol. 2, ed. Derek Offord, Lara Ryazanova-Clarke, Vladislav Rjéoutski, and Gesine Argent (Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), 156–178. For a discussion on changing male fashions in the early 19th century and Pushkin’s attitude toward foreign borrowings and the Academy dictionary, see Iu. M. Lotman, Pushkin: biografiia pisatelia: Stati i zametki, 1960–1990: “Evgeniĭ Onegin,” Kommentarii (St. Petersburg, Russia: Iskusstvo-SPB, 1995), 572–576.

  • 21. For a summary of the linguistic debates in the context of Russian politics and identity, see G. M. Hamburg, “Language and Conservative Politics in Alexandrine Russia,” in French and Russian in Imperial Russia, vol. 2, ed. Derek Offord et al. (Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2015) 118–138.

  • 22. Pushkin, Evgenii Onegin, 15.

  • 23. For more on the idea that Westernized dress was theatrical in the early imperial period, see Iurii Lotman, “Poetika bytovogo povedeniia v russkoi kul’ture XVIII veka,” in Trudy po znakovym sistemam, vol. 8 (Tartuskii gos. universitet, 1977), 65–89. For a discussion of how dandies were seen as adopting female behaviors in Russia, see Ol’ga Vainshtein, “Russian Dandyism: Constructing a Man of Fashion,” trans. Dan Healey in Russian Masculinities in History and Culture, ed. Barbara Evans Clemens, Rebecca Friedman, and Dan Healy (New York: Palgrave, 2002), 53–54.

  • 24. Monika Greenleaf identifies this passage as a reference to Parny’s The Disguises of Venus and proposes that this “double disguise” is an example of the characterization of Onegin in which “His character is structured like language: a visible signifying surface/text, and the absent signified/interior to which it refers.” Monika Greenleaf, Pushkin and Romantic Fashion: Fragment, Elegy, Orient, Irony (Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994), 229–230.

  • 25. Pushkin, Evgenii Onegin, 149.

  • 26. Adam Geczy, Fashion and Orientalism: Dress, Textiles and Culture from the 17th to the 21st Century (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 48–57.

  • 27. Philippe Perrot, Fashioning the Bourgeoisie: A History of Clothing in the Nineteenth Century, trans. Richard Bienvenu (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 113.

  • 28. R. M. Kirsanova, Kostium v russkoi khudozhestvennoi kul’ture 18—pervoi poloviny 20 vv. (Moscow: Bol’shaia rossiiskaia entsiklopediia, 1995), 306–309.

  • 29. For the impact of this poem on the image of the dressing gown in early 19th-century Russian culture, see Katherine Bowers, “Unpacking Viazemskii’s Khalat: The Technologies of Dilettantism in Early Nineteenth-Century Russian Literary Culture,” Slavic Review 74, no. 3 (2015): 529–552.

  • 30. P. A. Viazemskii, “Proshchanie s khalatom,” in Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Kniazia P.A. Viazemskogo, vol. 3, ed. Graf S. D. Sheremetov (St. Petersburg, Russia: Tipografiia M. M. Stasiulevicha), 150–153.

  • 31. For more on this association, see Ingrid Kleespies, “Traveling Domestics: The Penates and the Poet in Pushkin’s Lyric Verse,” Pushkin Review 15, no. 1 (2012): 27–51.

  • 32. Viazemskii, “Proshchanie s khalatom,” 151.

  • 33. I. A. Gocharov, “Oblomov,” in Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem v dvadtsati tomakh, vol. 4, ed. V. A. Tunimanov (St. Petersburg, Russia: Nauka, 1998), 5–493.

  • 34. The tradition of reading Oblomov as a social type dates back to Nikolai Dobroliubov’s (1836–1861) article, “What Is Oblomovitis?” (1859).

  • 35. For a summary of what Aksakov wore and the reaction of those around him, see Peter K. Christoff, K. S. Aksakov, A Study in Ideas, Vol. III: An Introduction to Nineteenth-Century Russian Slavophilism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014), 100–102.

  • 36. For a discussion of the raznochintsy, see Elise Kimerling Wirtschafter, “The Groups between: raznochintsy, Intelligentsia, Professionals,” in The Cambridge History of Russia, vol. 2, ed. Dominic Lieven (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 245–263.

  • 37. For what happens to dress in Russian literature in the late imperial period and into the early Soviet era, see James Rann, “Clothes, Costume, and Fashion in Russian Modernism,” in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature, ed. P. Rabinowitz (Oxford: Oxford University Press, May 26, 2021).

  • 38. In a strictly legal sense, whether or not Bazarov is a nobleman depends on when his father achieved noble status in his military career.

  • 39. In the Russian context, a prince is not the child of a monarch, but the descendent of an ancient noble dynasty.

  • 40. For a detailed examination of what Russian nihilists wore, see Victoria Thorstensson, “Nihilist Fashion in 1860s–1870s Russia: The Aesthetic Relations of Blue Spectacles to Reality,” Clothing Cultures 3, no. 3 (2016): 265–281.

  • 41. I. S. Turgenev, Ottsy i deti, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem v dvadtsati vos’mi tomakh, vol. 7, ed. M. P. Alekseev et al. (Moscow: Nauka, 1981), 5–188.

  • 42. Kirsanova, Rozovaia ksandreika I dradedamovyi platok, 67.

  • 43. He uses both the French expression “bien public” and the Russian “obshchestvennoe zdanie.” Turgenev, Ottsy i deti, 48.

  • 44. Turgenev, Ottsy i deti, 20.

  • 45. Boris Christa categorizes the characters in Fathers and Children according to their interest in clothing. Bazarov is associated with the third highest number of “vestimentary markers,” with only Pavel Petrovich and Odintsova with more. Christa argues that “their concern for clothes is a danger-sign, an ominous portent pointing towards a wasted life.” Boris Christa, “Vestimentary Markers in Turgenev’s ‘Ottsy i deti (Fathers and Sons)’,” New Zealand Slavonic Journal (1983): 21–36.

  • 46. Turgenev, Ottsy i deti, 76.

  • 47. Turgenev, Ottsy i deti, 161.

  • 48. Turgenev, Ottsy i deti, 183.

  • 49. For a history of the relationship between tailoring and dressmaking and Peter the Great’s Westernizing dress reforms, see Ruane, Empire’s New Clothes, 25.

  • 50. The reading of Bazarov as an empty caricature of the new generation of radicals dates to just after the novel’s publication when furious polemics over the fairness of Turgenev’s portrayal of a nihilist hero greeted the novel’s appearance. For a summary of the contemporary critical response, see P. S. Reifman, “Bor’ba v 1860-kh godakh vokrug romana I.S. Turgeneva ‘Ottsy i deti’,” Trudy po russkoi i slavianskoi filologii, no. 6 (1963): 82–94.

  • 51. L. N. Tolstoi, “Otets Sergii,” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, vol. 31, ed. N. V. Gorbachev et al. (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo khudozhestvennoi literatury, 1954), 5–46.

  • 52. Tolstoi, “Otets Sergii,” 19.

  • 53. For a discussion on the erotic potential of monks’ robes, see Marjorie Garber, Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing & Cultural Anxiety (New York: Routledge, 1997), 217–223.

  • 54. Tolstoi, “Otets Sergii,” 44.

  • 55. Ruane, Empire’s New Clothes, 74.

  • 56. Liudmila Skliar, Kostium v russkom stile: gorodskoi vyshityi kostium kontsa XIX—nachala XX veka (Moscow: Boslen, 2015), 216.