Stephen Graham and Russian Spirituality: the Pilgrim in Search of Salvation
Stephen Graham is most often associated with the books and articles he wrote in the years before the 1917 Revolution idealising the innate religiosity of the Russian peasantry. His quest for spirituality in Russia was driven in large part by his failure to find any sense of authentic spirituality in the urban world of late Edwardian Britain. An examination of his private papers shows that he was even as a young man committed to a philosophy which assumed that there was some form of higher reality beyond the everyday world (or ‘the Little World’ as he referred to it in his unpublished book Ygdrasil). When Graham moved to Russia he was seeking to find a place where a sense of the eternal could be found in everyday life. His search for the transcendent in the mundane did however distort both his ‘reporting’ on Russia and his understanding of religion and spirituality.
Paper given at the Fifth Fitzwilliam Colloquium in Russian Studies "British Perception and Reception of Russian Culture, 18th-20th Centuries", Cambridge, 2012.