were closely watched by local authorities seeking to stem the growing tide of unrest and protest throughout the countryside and urban areas, yet parish schoolteachers, moved by their pupils' circumstances and social denigration, were just as likely to propagate radical means to change the existing order.19 For parish schoolteachers, change began with the reform of parish life and often led to calls for the overthrow of the hierarchical structures of the Orthodox Church and for civil disobedience. Police records attest to the spread of activism among parish schoolteachers, to the collusion of members of the clerical estate (particularly the lower orders ofpsalmist and deacon), andto the utter devotion of parishioners to these cultural enlighteners.20
By the beginning of the twentieth century, despite the uneven development of primary schooling in Russia, basic education, often of just a few years, had succeeded in creating a substantial literate mass amongthe peasantry and lower urban working classes (amounting to more than 25 per cent of adults by 1917). No longer were Russia's literate to be found only among the upper echelons of society. The taste of new readers lay with religious tales, adventure stories, mysteries, biographies and current events (in the form ofpenny newspapers) -each representative of middle-brow literature that made cultural elites cringe. Entire industries related to mass publishing sprouted up, many with their own rags-to-riches owners whose peasant backgrounds suggested to Russia's lower classes the prospects that lay ahead for those possessing a measure of ingenuity and derring-do.21 As peasants encountered new, secular ideas about the world and the history of Russia, they combined elements of folk and urban cultures. At the same time Orthodox piety became more diverse in its expression and less amenable to control by an increasingly anxious holy synod. As the synod's censorial prerogatives were diminished after 1865 and eventually abolished in 1905, the production ofpopular religious items from icons to saints' biographies became less stylised, though no less formulaic, and flirted with influences from Orthodoxy's rival Old Believers and sectarian movements. The free mixing of secular and sacred imagery could be seen everywhere, especially in the widely used almanacs or peasant calendars whose covers typically portrayed an agricultural scene with a church in the background. Beyond the inside cover the reader could find a list of dates important in the religious, secular
19 Zemstvos were semi-democratic district and provincial administrative organs responsible for a broad range of social and cultural initiatives in rural Russia beginning in 1864. By 1912 zemstvos had been opened in forty-three of Russia's fifty European provinces.
20 See C. A. Frierson, Peasant icons: representations of rural people in late nineteenth-century Russia (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).
21 Brooks, When Russialearned to read, chs. 8-9; C. A. Ruud, A Russian entrepreneur: publisher Ivan Sytin ofMoscow, 1851-1934 (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990).
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