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This essay responds to Jeffrey Brooks’ 2020 monograph The Firebird and the Fox, drawing attention to Brooks’ emphasis on a set of cultural symbols persistent during the historical period he surveys, and on the social activism which he identifies with leading Russian cultural figures such as Tolstoi and Chekhov. In support of Brooks’ argument, I present the example of Aleksandr Chaianov (1888–1937), a specialist in agronomy and amateur writer whose reputation as a driver of early Soviet agricultural policy was overshadowed by his arrest in 1930 and subsequent exile and execution. Chaianov’s social activism, as expressed in his short fiction and historical essays, took the form of reminding his readers about the cultural continuities between Russia’s past, present, and future.

Open Access
In: Russian History