“Episcopal Justice”: Nikolaj Leskov’s life experience and Jewish question
The present article gives a detailed account of previously unknown documentary sources of Leskov’s short story “Episcopal Justice.” This story bears the subtitle “True story. From recent recollections,” which seems to suggest an autobiographical basis for the narrative. The ultimate aim of the study is to determine whether the story’s central incident—a Christian bishop comes to the rescue of a Jewish boy—may have been based on real events. My analysis of the recently discovered archival materials, as well as of the historical circumstances surrounding the writing of the tale, shows that “Episcopal Justice” may well have been based on real-life events. Moreover, we consider this story in the context of Leskov’s other writings addressing the “Jewish question” and trace the evolution of his position as it shifts, in his later years, toward one of equality of the Christian and Jewish faiths.