The great historian V. O. Kliuchevskii found the key to Russian society in the relative simplicity of its social forms in comparison with Western Europe. But in writing his magisterial Course in Russian History he revealed a degree of complexity that belied his disarming formula. The apparent contradiction stems from the standard of comparison. There were elements of complexity in Russian society that had no counterparts in the experience of the West. Moreover, the definition of society in nineteenth-century social history may have been too confining. If we make the effort to explore the unique features of Russian history and at the same time expand the boundaries of social history, we may arrive at a more comprehensive picture of Russia's social structure on the eve of revolution.