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Kikimora Publications Series A 16

Elina Kahla
Life as Exploit: Representations of Twentieth-Century Saintly Women in Russia

Kikimora Publications Series A: 16
ISBN 978-952-10-3790-0

20 EUR + VAT 10 %

Contents (pdf)


This volume examines twentieth-century Russian woman saints’ lives and deeds. In particular, the author differentiates between official and non-official literary and visual representations, and points to the contiguity between the imagery of neo-hagiographical hero and the Soviet-era positive hero. Both of these canonical heroes provide models for private and public emulation, and their function is strongly linked with political and patriotic issues. The author suggests a typology of three kinds of female martyrs and confessors: a modern saintly princess, a blessed eldress, and an émigré intellectual.

Part I provides the conceptual ground for examining images of saintly women while the seven articles of Part II each focuses on an individual personage.

  • The study of neo-hagiography is critical because, on the one hand, neo-hagiographical texts represent a highly characteristic aspect of “new” spirituality in today’s Russia. On the other hand, today’s “lives” also testify to deep, underlying ties to the Russian past (ancient as well as more recent).We need to know more about this particular hybrid phenomenon if we are to understand the broader culture emerging today in Russia.”
    - Marcia A. Morris, Professor & Chair, Department of Slavic Languages
    Georgetown University

  • “Canonisation and discussion of the so-called new martyrs and other new saints is most important now in the Russian church and Russian culture. … Glorification (especially of martyrs) is no uniquely Russian phenomenon. Unique is the scope of the phenomenon and the vigor of persecutions the martyrs were subjected to. What Kahla examines has therefore general relevance for what goes on in the Christian church today.
    The analyses in these articles are scientifically solid and offer new outlooks.”
    - Per-Arne Bodin, Professor of Slavic Languages, Stockholm University

  • "Kahla has added much insightful information on aspects of developments in Russian Orthodox religious life which any student of Russian life and culture will find useful."
    - Peter A. Rolland, University of Alberta, Russian Review, 2008, Vol. 67/1.

Elina Kahla studied Russian culture, art and literature at Helsinki University. She has translated Russian authors’ works into Finnish (e.g. by Marina Tsvetaeva and Liudmila Ulitskaia) and has published essays. She is currently a researcher and publications manager at the Aleksanteri Institute.