Karamzin and Money
This article deals with the treatment of money in Karamzin’s Letters of a Russian Traveler. Our approach combines biographical research with new insights into the text in an effort to shed light on the notorious matter of the source of Karamzin’s funding during his foreign travel in 1789-1790, and to understand his attitude to monetary transactions as it is revealed in the travelogue. This, in turn, allows us to deal with the contested issue of Karamzin’s status as a “literary professional.” These matters have been discussed on a number of occasions (Klioutchkine 1997, Klein 2008, Panofsky 2010, to mention only most recent publications). Existing studies, however, have avoided analyzing numbers and performing calculations, even if most of the questions they posed could not be convincingly resolved without recourse to quantifiable data. Needless to say, the information available to us is not exhaustive, and in many cases we have to rely on estimates, conjectures and approximations. However, even this level of precision affords us a more complete understanding of many important aspects of Karamzin’s biography and literary position, as well as the development of his economic thought.