"High Society Dinners: Dining in Tsarist Russia," by Yuri Lotman and Elena Pogosjan

lotmancoverHigh Society Dinners: Dining in Tsarist Russia

by Yuri Lotman and Elena Pogosjan

Translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz

Edited and with an introduction by Darra Goldstein

Prospect Books, 2014

High Society Dinners offers extraordinary insight into the domestic arrangements of the Russian aristocracy, presenting nine months' worth of menus served in St Petersburg to the guests of Petr Durnovo (1835–1918), Adjutant-General of the Tsar's Imperial Suite, part of an important late nineteenth-century dynasty that included ministers and high officials. The menus themselves would be useful enough for what they reveal about culinary culture in Russia, but Yuri Lotman's commentary is invaluable, dissecting the dining rituals and social circles of the participants. Durnovo's menus and guest lists, interspersed with extracts from family letters and the leading newspapers and journals of the day, set in context the domestic and gastronomic underpinnings of life in this group at the heart of the Russian empire.

PRAISE FOR THE TRANSLATION

And that is precisely why Prospect Books's edition of Yuri Lotman and Jelena Pogosjan's High Society Dinners: Dining in Tsarist Russia (2014) deserves a wide readership among scholars and researchers and writers currently working on food- and culinary-related subjects, as well as curious general readers. The combined talents of the translator, Marian Schwartz, and the editor, Darra Goldstein, result in a superb model for bringing food history writings from another language into English. -- Cynthia Bertelsen

High Society Dinners: Dining in Imperial Russia brings together the original Russian-language scholarship, in Marian Schwartz's excellent translation, with Darra Goldstein's scholarly commentary, which makes this book a new and important contribution to Russian cultural history. -- Christine Ruane 

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