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Among Russian Sects and Revolutionists

The Extraordinary Life of Prince D. A. Khilkov

Graham Camfield

In his lifetime Prince Dmitrii Aleksandrovich Khilkov (1857–1914) became known in a number of seemingly contradictory roles and contexts: courageous officer, Tolstoyan, defender of the oppressed, leader of the Dukhobor exodus, revolutionary terrorist and returning Orthodox prodigal. Born into one of Russia’s ancient aristocratic families, with close links to the court, he chose an unexpected path that led him deep into the Russian countryside and brought him to the very edge of the Empire. Renouncing a brilliant military career, he gave up almost all his land to the peasants and settled on a small farm at Pavlovki, Khar’kov province. There, his support for peasants at variance with local landowners and the Church brought him into conflict with authority, both civil and ecclesiastical, and led to his exile, firstly among religious dissidents in Transcaucasia and later among political émigrés in Switzerland.
Using a wide range of often obscure published sources, this book explores Khilkov’s extraordinary life through his autobiographical notes and the accounts of many who knew him, among them Lev Tolstoi and his disciples, the Marxist Vladimir Bonch-Bruevich, fellow members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party and the Orthodox clergy who guided him back to the Church.


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Acknowledgements vii The Khilkov Story: An Introduction 1 Chapter 1 The Khilkovs in Peace and War 9 Chapter 2 Among Cossacks and Exiles in Transcaucasia 27 Chapter 3 Dissent in Pavlovki 35 Chapter 4 Discovering Tolstoi 57 Chapter 5 In the Shadow of Exile 75 Chapter 6 Exile and Family Drama 91 Chapter 7 The Khilkov Children 103 Chapter 8 Sectarians and the State in Russia 119 vi Chapter 9 Among the Doukhobors 133 Chapter 10 Khilkov and the Doukhobor Exodus 149 Chapter 11 The Break with Tolstoi 165 Chapter 12 Khilkov, Bonch-Bruevich and the Sectarian Question 183 Chapter 13 Khilkov the Revolutionary 203 Chapter 14 Return to Pavlovki 229 Chapter 15 Prince Khilkov Goes to War 253 Bibliography 277 Index 287

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