And Quiet Flows the Vodka, or when Pushkin Comes to Shove: The Curmudgeon's Guide to Russian Literature with the Devil's Dictionary of Received Ideas


Russia has fascinated outsiders for centuries, and according to Alicia Chudo, it is high time this borscht stopped. In this hilarious send up of Russian literature and history, Chudo takes no prisoners as she examines Russia's great tradition of unreadable geniuses, revolutionaries who can't hit the broad side of a tsar, and Soviets who like their vodka but love their tractors.

Written in the tradition of 1066 and All That, The Pooh Perplex, and The Classics Redefined, And ...

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Russia has fascinated outsiders for centuries, and according to Alicia Chudo, it is high time this borscht stopped. In this hilarious send up of Russian literature and history, Chudo takes no prisoners as she examines Russia's great tradition of unreadable geniuses, revolutionaries who can't hit the broad side of a tsar, and Soviets who like their vodka but love their tractors.

Written in the tradition of 1066 and All That, The Pooh Perplex, and The Classics Redefined, And Quiet Flows the Vodka will, with any luck, be the final word on the ghastly first two millennia of Russian literature, history, and culture.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"There is little that needs saying except bravo! . . . [B]y my lights, this is a brilliant satire that clicks from beginning to end. The book is an intriguing mixture of invented nonsense and quite genuine reflections on the sad history of Russia and the qualities--at once morose and wild--of its literature." --Frederick Crews, author of Postmodern Pooh
Library Journal
Chudo, the pen name of Gary Saul Morson (Slavic languages and literature, Northwestern Univ.), has written a satirical survey of Russian civilization that is pure fun. Readers should not seek information here, for the book presupposes a good knowledge of Russian history and a thorough dislike of the pretentiousness of official interpretations. The author first gives a history of Russian literature in which most of the names and titles sound just a little different from those readers will remember but now have often ironic meanings. For example, Galicia becomes Garlicia, and the Russian scholar Vinogradov (meaning from the vineyard ) appears as Vinopianov ( wine-drunk ). Chudo analyzes such literary masterpieces as War and Punishment and Nose from the Underground. David Senzel s The Russians: Victims of History from Yaroslavl to Yeltsin (Book Guild, 1997) also aims at a humorous discussion of Russian civilization yet mistakenly sticks to the facts; unfortunately, as Nikolai Gogol noted, Russian facts are boring. Highly recommended for all Russian studies collections. Bert Beynen, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Ankeny, IO Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Russian history and literature get a good thrashing from truly grouchy Professor Chudo, assisted by editor Sobesednikov—both of whom are "official pseudonyms" of Russian Lit maven Gary S. Morson. Steppe by steppe, we learn from this elaborate put-on—and put-down—about the Russian national drink (vodka), national philosophy (vodka), national song ("Vodka!"), and most recent Five-Year Plan (anti-Semitism). Obscurity becomes lucid and vice versa. Obviously Chudo knows a lot of arcane stuff about the Slavic intelligentsia and does her utmost to protect us from it. From the graves of academe she delivers the ultimate in literary criticism. This seminal satirical study works out convoluted textual analysis and analyzes textual convolutions: included are several treasures like a new Gogol tale (clearly from the hand of the master) and an undoubted story by Dostoevsky (from the hand of the same master). Along with many footnotes and shameless wordplay, there's real verisimilitude to what might, at first glance, pass for a junior college's selection of an appropriate sophomore textbook. All of the Russias is a large target, and this spoof hits it. Unfortunately, other traits of Russian letters (feckless torpor and ennui) emerge in the appended material of comments regarding the Russian language, some faux advertising, a spotty chronology, and a comic dictionary (festooned with much doggerel) in the mode of Flaubert and Bierce. Chudo would have done well to recall her reference to a 19th-century novel "so tedious that even its translator didn't read it." Nevertheless, the main text, often as nimble as Nijinsky, disses the Slavs in a manner that will certainly cause alotof academic hilarity and possibly, as an American-Zionist provocation, a major diplomatic incident. Despite an underdone potato or two, this rich comic serving of borscht will be deemed savory by many a Department of Russian Studies.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810117884
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 1,492,729
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Alicia Chudo is the author of Children of Menippus: Despisers of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present and is best known as the founder of the discipline of misanthropology.

Andrew Sobesednikov is an assistant fellow of the Interlocutors Foundation for the Promotion of One-Sided Debate.

Both are pseudonyms of Gary Saul Morson, the author of many books and the founding editor of the Series in Russian Literature and Theory Series, published by Northwestern University Press.

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Table of Contents

And Quiet Flows the Vodka, or When Pushkin Comes to Shove
The Curmudgeon's Guide to Russian Literature and Culture

Editor's Preface

1. Beginnings: The Primary School Chronicle and Prince Vladimir
2. Boris and Gleb and Russian Military Strategy
3. The Hilarious Sermon
4. The Igor Tale
5. The Eighteenth Century
6. Pushkin
7. Gogol, with His Story "Kleptonasia"
8. Herzen and Ogarev
9. Dostoevsky's Unfinished Novel, Torture (from the Notebooks to The Idiot): With Commentary
10. Tolstoy
11. Scene from Chekhov's Play The Dodo
12. The History of Russian Criticism and Thought
13. Notes on the Twentieth Century
      Early Twentieth Century: The Age of Pseudonyms
      The Nothingist Manifesto (Complete Text)
      Formalism and Socialist Realism
      Mikhail Bakhtin
      Poetry of 1920
      Poetry of the 1930s: The Art of Translation
      Three New Stories by Daniil Kharms
      The Era of Torpor
      Postcommunism, Postmodernism
      Three Reports from Minsk
      Sobesednikov's Dream: Dialogues of the Dead

      Appendix 1: The Awful Russian Language
      Appendix 2: Key Dates in Russian History
      Appendix 3: Classifieds Reclassified: Advertising Russian History
      Appendix 4: Chudo's Familiar Quotations from Russian Culture

Conclusion: Two Dialogues of the Dead on Essential Russianness

An Inivitation to Be Bribed

A Note on the Author and Editor

The Devil's Dictionary of Received Ideas
Alphabetical Reflections on the Loathsomeness of Russia, American Academia, and Humanity in General

Editor's Preface

The Devil's Dictionary of Received Ideas

A Note on the Author and Editor

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