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The Russian Library at Columbia University Press publishes an expansive selection of Russian literature in English translation, concentrating on works previously unavailable in English and those ripe for new translations. Works of premodern, modern, and contemporary literature are featured, including recent writing. The series seeks to demonstrate the breadth, surprising variety, and global importance of the Russian literary tradition and includes not only novels but also short stories, plays, poetry, memoirs, creative nonfiction, and works of mixed or fluid genre.

Editorial Board:

Vsevolod Bagno

Dmitry Bak

Rosamund Bartlett

Caryl Emerson

Peter B. Kaufman

Mark Lipovetsky

Oliver Ready

Stephanie Sandler


For a list of books in the series, see Series List

Columbia University Press / New York

Published with the support of Read Russia, Inc., and the Institute of Literary Translation, Russia

Columbia University Press

Publishers Since 1893

New York   Chichester, West Sussex


Translation copyright © 2020 Andrew Kahn and Irina Reyfman

All rights reserved

E-ISBN 978-0-231-54639-3

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Radishchev, Aleksandr Nikolaevich, 1749–1802 author. | Kahn, Andrew, translator. | Reyfman, Irina, translator.

Title: Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow / Alexander Radishchev; translated by Andrew Kahn and Irina Reyfman.

Other titles: Puteshestvie iz Peterburga v Moskvu. English

Description: New York: Columbia University Press, [2020] | Series: Russian library | Translated from the Russian.

Identifiers: LCCN 2020002496 (print) | LCCN 2020002497 (ebook) | ISBN 9780231185905 (cloth; acid-free paper) | ISBN 9780231185912 (paperback; acid-free paper) | ISBN 9780231546393 (ebook)

Subjects: LCSH: Serfdom—Russia. | Russia—Social conditions—To 1801.

Classification: LCC HN525 .R313 2020 (print) | LCC HN525 (ebook) | DDC 306.0947—dc23

LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020002496

LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020002497

A Columbia University Press E-book.

CUP would be pleased to hear about your reading experience with this e-book at cup-ebook@columbia.edu.

Cover design: Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich

Book design: Lisa Hamm



Introduction by Andrew Kahn and Irina Reyfman

Note on the Text


1. Departure

2. Sofia

3. Tosna

4. Lyubani

5. Chudovo

6. Spasskaya Polest

7. Podberezye

8. Novgorod

9. Bronnitsy

10. Zaitsovo

11. Kresttsy

12. Yazhelbitsy

13. Valdai

14. Edrovo

15. Khotilov: Project for the Future

16. Vyshny Volochok

17. Vydropusk

18. Torzhok

19. Mednoe

20. Tver

21. Gorodnya

22. Zavidovo

23. Klin

24. Peshki

25. Chornaya Gryaz



While translating Alexander Radishchev’s travelogue, we benefited from the generous help of many individuals. First of all, we would like to express our gratitude to Christine Dunbar, the editor of the Russian Library series at Columbia University Press. She was the person with whom we first discussed this project, and has remained enthusiastic and supportive from beginning to end, answering our questions and helping to solve problems, small and large. We particularly appreciate her reading the entire manuscript, both the introduction and the translation, and coming up with many helpful suggestions at the revision stage. We also thank friends and colleagues who read either the entire manuscript or parts of it at different stages and helped us to revise and improve our translation. Our deepest gratitude goes to Kelsey Rubin-Detlev and Nicholas Cronk for reading the entire manuscript. Their meticulous and learned help was inestimable. Avi Lifschitz and Thomas Wynn generously read selections and offered valuable feedback on aspects of Radishchev’s sources and his style. We would also like to acknowledge the generosity of colleagues who responded to our queries about sometimes very complex aspects of the Russian eighteenth-century economy, legal system, and social system. We could not have managed without their expertise. Robert H. Davis, librarian for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies at Columbia University, helped to search for hard-to-find books and articles. Robert H. Scott, head of the Electronic Text Service, Columbia University Libraries (retired), has our gratitude for making it possible to copy the microforms of rare eighteenth-century publications. We also owe profound gratitude to the anonymous reader of our manuscript for the Columbia University Press. We found her or his careful reading and thoughtful and wise suggestions tremendously useful while giving our manuscript one last round of revisions. Ben Kolstad and Leslie Kriesel provided valuable help with production, and Peggy Tropp with copyediting, for which we are extremely grateful. The opportunity to present our work at the X International Conference of the Study Group on Eighteenth-Century Russia (Strasbourg) in July 2018 afforded feedback from our fellow participants that proved invaluable to the development of our translating strategy. We are grateful to them.



The Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow is the work that made Alexander Radishchev an underground celebrity. Confiscated when Radishchev published it in late May 1790, this work of travel literature and political critique is one of the most notorious books of the eighteenth century. Banned until nearly the end of the Imperial period, it was read in manuscript copies that circulated clandestinely (there are about seventy extant copies dating from 1790, many with readers’ comments), in the few rare copies of the first edition that survived (Alexander Pushkin acquired such a copy), or finally, in copies published by the émigré press outside Russia starting in 1856. Radishchev’s arrest, on June 30, 1790, came at the start of the third decade of a reign that began in 1762, when Catherine II took the throne. Because her clash with this dedicated civil servant and gifted freethinker came toward the end of the epoch, it overshadowed her long record of accomplishment. Radishchev’s sentence of exile looked like an act of despotic intolerance, casting doubt on Catherine’s commitment to the improvement of social welfare and other progressive tenets of the Enlightenment. Russian historians have continued to debate whether the principles of toleration, reform, and rational government that Catherine had made cornerstones of her reputation were real or mere virtue signaling. The historical irony is that Radishchev’s intellectual qualities and philosophical views were very much the product of the values of toleration, Westernization, and reform that Catherine had championed for much of her reign.


Born in Moscow in 1749, Radishchev was the scion of a wealthy and

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