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Generally speaking, state and zemstvo writers tended to offer a relatively positive picture of resettlement while populist pamphleteers did more to emphasize the hardships and problems that settlers were likely to face.
The idea that resettlement was a challenging yet potentially rewarding enterprise was clearly conveyed in the settlement manuals that appeared in numerous editions under both state and zemstvo auspices beginning around the turn of the century.
With the exception perhaps of the most negative populist pamphlets, resettlement in this literature tended to come across as difficult but potentially rewarding.
By the 1910s, that figure had jumped to 25%, but there are no general statistics as to how many settlers were literate (though the number was undoubtedly small) and there is no way to measure how much exposure settlers (whether literate or not) might have had to resettlement publications and other peasant-oriented literature.
25] When it came to ideas concerning resettlement and the eastern frontier, this "screen" contained images that were evocative and contradictory.
Villages in the countryside were tied to one another through communications networks that brought resettlement-related information to the peasants in a variety of ways: (1) failed migrants or "returners" (obratnye pereselentsy) brought stories of resettlement back to the village; (2) professional peasant scouts who shuttled back and forth leading parties of migrants did the same thing; (3) religious wanderers (stranniki) and other "nomadic" members of rural society also passed along resettlement-related stories; and (4) settlers themselves relayed information in letters that they wrote to relatives back home (more on these letters below).
Even wildly inaccurate tales about cannabalistic Kazakhs reflected an obvious fact about resettlement from the peasants' perspective: moving to the frontier represented a step into the unknown that could have deadly consequences.
The images of resettlement that circulated in the peasant milieu were thus diverse, and drawing definitive conclusions as to which images made the greatest impact on peasants is difficult since it is difficult to know exactly what peasants knew and when they knew it.
Compared to the letter writers, the authors of resettlement accounts (all of whom were male) tend to provide fuller self-portraits, but they, too, do not offer much in the way of introspection or detailed personal information.
The first experience of resettlement was leaving the village and taking to the road, but, generally speaking, letter writers and the authors of resettlement accounts did not provide much detail on these events.
Those with a negative or ambivalent view of resettlement tended to describe the great anxiousness they felt upon arrival or their lackluster first impressions after frustrating searches for land.
Some writers described resettlement as horrible, painted frontier living as impossible, regretted moving, and recommended others against it.