hist-brewing: The Domostroi

Spagyrix spagyrix at home.com
Sat Jan 6 06:07:10 PST 2001

PBLoomis at aol.com wrote:
>     My Lady bought a copy of The Domostroi (trans. and ed. by
> Carolyn Johnston Pouncy, Cornell University Press, 1994) off a
> discount table somewhere.  I remember some discussion of it
> on one of my lists within the last year, but cannot remember
> what was said, or where.
>     Is this a good translation?
>     What are the useful things that one who is not actively
> involved with late Medieval Russian culture can get from the
> book?
>     Thank you in advance,
>     Scotti mac Curraugh

I don't know about its recipes, but in Slavic Studies this book is the
very by-word of reactionary brutality.  In college I heard many jokes
about its approval of beating as a cure-all.  Here are some charming
"Weaken not beating the boy [your son], for he will not die from your
striking him with the rod."
"Do not smile at him [your child], or play with him."
"Give him [your child] no power in his youth, but crush his ribs while
he is growing."
"If your wife does not understand your words, or fails to follow them,
you must punish her with beating."
"Do not beat against her face or you will not be able to show her
publicly. Do not beat against her stomach if she is pregnant, you may
harm a child." 
"So, use your lash in a careful and intelligent way, do it painfully,
fearfully, strongly."
The Domostroi is considered to be reactionary not only at the time it
came out (which was some time after the period it supposedly describes),
but its strictures were more brutal than the type of life peasants
actually had and the structure of their families before the Domostroi
was written. 


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