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'Freedom of the Theatres'

'Freedom of the Theatres': the Abolition of the Russian Imperial Theatre Monopoly

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Original languageEnglish
Pages254-289
Number of pages36
JournalSlavonic and East European Review
Journal publication dateApr 2005
Volume83
Issue2
StatePublished

Abstract

This article investigates why the Russian Imperial Theatre monopoly was abolished in 1882. The reform is regarded as an important turning-point in Russian cultural history, but its timing seems puzzling. The monopoly emerged for economic reasons but came to be defended on political grounds. Its abolition was regarded as an act of liberalization, yet it occurred when Alexander III was embarking on a programme of reaction. The article explores possible interpretations of the reform and suggests that, far from being an uncharacteristic concession to ‘progressive circles’, the monopoly's abolition makes sense only when viewed as part of Alexander III's ‘conservative-nationalist’ agenda.

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