Soul: an Exploration
is available in paperback in bookstores or through the Cornell
University Press website, and through Amazon.com.
here to read the intro or download
it in Acrobat PDF format
here to read a story from the book or download
it in PDF format
Dale Pesmen is the author
of Russia and Soul: an Exploration, released by Cornell University Press
in 2000. The book is based on her experiences during her residence as
an anthropologist and interpreter in a formerly closed Siberian military-industrial
city during the early 1990s. Ms. Pesmen was born in Chicago, received
her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Chicago and
has taught in the U.S. and Europe.
Russia and Soul appeals to a wide range of readers with varying interests.
It combines vivid literary descriptions of everyday Siberian Russian life
during the early 1990s with quotes from the author's interviews with people
living through that tremendously difficult time, with jokes, stories,
and discussions of Russian culture, history, philosophy, and language.
writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Russia and Soul ...(is) certainly the best and most intricate book
ever written about how crucial, barely definable words in the Russian
language ... combine to shape the Russian character. Most Anglo-American
books about Russia...offer a conceptually banal take on Moscow or St.
Petersburg, dressed in Western assumptions and categories, in which the
foreign author grinds exotic Russian ethos into familiar sausage. Not
Russia and Soul. Having spent part of the early 1990s in decidedly non-chic
Omsk (a Siberian city once closed to foreigners because of its military
bases), Pesmen discards the usual Gorbachev Yeltsin-and-friends approach
for the emblematic words of ordinary informants: morose Mira, assertive
Aleksandr, and other figures we get to know. Result? A flood of insights
into how Russians see themselves....As Pesmen unpacks her rich material
with marvelous learning and verve, the indomitable spirituality of the
Russian personality after 70 years of Soviet misery and 10 of capitalist
Professor Victor A. Friedman of the University
of Chicago writes that "This is the best book about Russia
ever written ... Pesmen has captured what it is like to be Russian and
to live in Russia. Pesmen is a true writer and artist. Her book is so
readable that when I open it at any page I have difficulty putting it
Nancy Ries of Colgate University writes:
"Dazzlingly original and penetratingly insightful, this is a volume
of singular erudition, bound to be a touchstone for all future studies
of Russian culture, society, philosophy, and literature. Dale Pesmen has
peered into the seeming cliche of Russian soul to reveal an intricate
cosmology, one that profoundly shapes social behavior and self creation."
you have any questions or comments regarding the book feel free to email
Dale at dale[at]pesmen.com