All Sorts of Confusing Things: Catherine the Great’s Possible Delve into Satirical Media

In chapter 8 of the reading, Madariaga discusses the mystery behind satirical journals, such as All Sorts of Things, which is believed to involve Catherine on some proverbial level. The journal takes its inspiration from contemporary English journals, and lampoons areas of “Russian society” (Madariaga 92). Because of the dichotomy of Catherine being an absolute ruler and being involved with media that openly attacks parts of Russian society, it really is confusing why she would take part in it at all. Is it because she is so “enlightened” that she can poke fun at a society she helped mold? The author states, “What induced Catherine to promote this kind of public criticism of the defeats of Russian society […] at this particular moment, when she had just been thrust into war, had never been satisfactorily explained” (Madariaga 92). Moreover, to this argument the author remarks that she feels Catherine would not have involved herself in this type of media. Do you agree with Madariaga that Catherine would outright not be involved with these journals? Or, do you think she would take part in the journals in some aspect. For whatever stance you take, why?

One Reply to “All Sorts of Confusing Things: Catherine the Great’s Possible Delve into Satirical Media”

  1. I think this poses an excellent question. Why did she want to get involved in ‘free speech’ if she did not believe in it? Even though it was not necessarily free speech, I think she took part in order to make the public believe they had free speech. We do know that education was important to her, and she imposed various education reforms in order to educated a wider public of higher thinkers. She was an ‘enlightened’ thinker who was fascinated by all things during the Enlightenment. However, she did impose restrictions. In 1783 she decreed that censorship be formalized. Even though it was not very restrictive and,essentially, quite lax (Madariage 97-98). I think that she did take part because of her ideology and fascination with enlightenment theory. I propose that she took part in order to make the public think they had free speech. Maybe she did this to weed out revolutionaries. She did banish Radishchev because of his ideas against her. I think she was complex, but also smart. That is why I believe she took part, if she did at all.

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