Reading Russian Fortunes: Print Culture, Gender and Divination in Russia from 1765

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Reading Russian Fortunes examines the huge popularity and cultural impact of fortune-telling among urban and literate Russians from the eighteenth century to the present. Based partly on a study of the numerous editions of little fortune-telling books, especially those devoted to dream interpretation, it documents and analyses the social history of fortune-telling in terms of class and gender, at the same time considering the function of both amateur and professional fortune-telling in a literate modernizing society. Chapters are devoted to professional fortune-tellers and their clients, and to the publishers of the books. An analysis of the relationship between urban fortune-telling and traditional oral culture, where divination played a very significant role, leads on to a discussion of the underlying reasons for the persistence of fortune-telling in modern Russian society.