Hypertrichosis in the Socio-Cultural Space of Russia (Late XIX – Early XX Centuries)





hairy people; hypertrichosis; civilizational paradigm; freak show; new man, utopian literature


This article considers the evolution of ideas about otherness between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the imperial civilizational paradigm was replaced by the revolutionary proclamation of the New Man. The emphasis in this case is on the tradition of description of excessively hairy people in Russian culture and its scientific, anthropological, and literary illustrations. Referring to examples from cultural life and from the works of Anton Chekhov, Evgeny Zamyatin, Alexander Belyaev, Mikhail Bulgakov, and Andrei Platonov, the author demonstrates that in the context of the debate about the disappearance of old civilizations and the construction of new ones, “hairy people” served as an impetus for discussions about personal, collective, social, or even national identity. The work considers various exhibitions of such “monsters” or “freaks”, such as Julia Pastrana, Adrian Evtikhiev, Fyodor Petrov or Vasilisa Fyodorova, who were shown to the public in the second half of the nineteenth century because of their excessive hairiness during travelling shows and at anthropological exhibitions. The second part of the work analyses memoirs and reminiscences about hairy and furry people in both the utopian and dystopian literature of the early twentieth century. Addressing the topic of “hairy people”, literature questions the uniqueness and radicality of the project meant to create a new man in Soviet Russia. Although the Soviet civilizational model was built in declarative opposition to the previous imperial model, the motif of the “hairy man” shows that it was still based on the previously formed image of the Other.

Author Biography

Annick Morard

PhD, Lecturer, University of Geneva.

24, rue du Général-Dufour, 1211, Geneva, Switzerland.

ORCID 0000-0001-9741-8136



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How to Cite

Morard, A. (2019). Hypertrichosis in the Socio-Cultural Space of Russia (Late XIX – Early XX Centuries). Quaestio Rossica, 7(2), 425–441. https://doi.org/10.15826/qr.2019.2.385



Problema voluminis