The Epistolary Art of Catherine the Great

BookThe Epistolary Art of Catherine the Great

The Epistolary Art of Catherine the Great

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2019:08


August 12th, 2019



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The Epistolary Art of Catherine the Great is the first study to analyse comprehensively the letters of Empress Catherine the Great of Russia (reigned 1762-1796) and to argue that they constitute a masterpiece of eighteenth-century epistolary writing.

In this book, Kelsey Rubin-Detlev traces Catherine’s development as a letter-writer, her networking strategies, and her image-making, demonstrating the centrality of ideas, literary experimentation, and manipulation of material form evident in Catherine’s epistolary practice. Through this, Rubin-Detlev illustrates how Catherine’s letters reveal her full engagement with the Enlightenment and further show how creatively she absorbed and responded to the ideas of her century.

The letter was not merely a means by which the empress promoted Russia and its leader as European powers; it was a literary genre through which Catherine expressed her identity as a member of the social, political, and intellectual elite of her century.

Author Information

Kelsey Rubin-Detlev is Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Southern California. Her work focuses on the literature and culture of eighteenth-century Russia in European context, in particular correspondence, women’s writing, and Catherine the Great. She is the co-translator with Andrew Kahn of 'Catherine the Great, Selected Letters' (Oxford University Press, 2018).