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Terror and GreatnessIvan and Peter as Russian Myths$
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Kevin M. F. Platt

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448133

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448133.001.0001

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(p.130) Chapter Four Prognostication
Terror and Greatness

Kevin M. F. Platt

Cornell University Press

This chapter considers Silver Age representations of of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, with particular focus on Dmitrii Merezhkovskii's historical novel Antichrist (Peter and Aleksei) and Pavel Miliukov's The Outlines of Russian Cultural History. By the start of the twentieth century, the reigns of the two rulers had come to serve as the primary foundational myths of Russian political and social life. The ambivalence of these myths between stories of greatness and stories of terror, rather than diminishing their capacity to provide meaningful explanations of Russian history, had rendered them “all-purpose” instruments for interpreting political experience, capable of explaining any event and “predicting” any outcome. Ultimately, these qualities of multivalence and ubiquitous utility ensured that even after the revolutions of 1917, the historical myths of Ivan and Peter were to retain their relevance for later generations and formulations of collective identity.

Keywords:   Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Dmitrii Merezhkovskii, Pavel Miliukov, Russian history, collective identity

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