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Did Khor Need Literacy? (I. S. Turgenev and A. A. Fet: Two Views on Primary Education)

Abstract: The article discusses two points of view on the primary education, literacy — I. S. Turgenev’s and A. A. Fet’s. The author describes the landmark clash between Turgenev and Fet, and also shows the mood and plans of both writers in the early 1860s. In August 1860, in anticipation of the abolition of serfdom, while in England, on the Isle of Wight, Turgenev conceived and drew up a “Draft Program for the Society for the Promotion of Literacy and Primary Education”. And Fet, forced to leave literature as a result of “persecution” of “pure art”, acquired 200 acres of black soil in the Mtsensk district. On the eve of the abolition of serfdom, the poet, who did not have his own estate and serfs, found himself in the position of a farmer, who had to endure fully on his own experience the endless troubles associated with the introduction of reforms in all spheres of economic and political life. His journalism touched upon a variety of issues, one of which was literacy. Fet’s opinion on this issue looks paradoxical. However, he was not alone, urging not to equate literacy, education and upbringing, giving preference to the moral upbringing of the people in solving the problem. A similar position was taken by V. I. Dal, whose letter to the publisher of the journal “Russkaya Beseda” A. I. Koshelev is analyzed in the article.
Keywords: Fet / literacy / Turgenev / upbringing / Primary Education / journal / Views on Primary / abolition of serfdom

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