The Cambridge Introduction to Russian Literature / Edition 1

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Russian literature arrived late on the European scene. Within several generations, its great novelists had shocked - and then conquered - the world. In this introduction to the rich and vibrant Russian tradition, Caryl Emerson weaves a narrative of recurring themes and fascinations across several centuries. Beginning with traditional Russian narratives (saints' lives, folk tales, epic and rogue narratives), the book moves through literary history chronologically and thematically, juxtaposing literary texts from each major period. Detailed attention is given to canonical writers including Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Bulgakov, and Solzhenitsyn, as well as to some current bestsellers from the post-Communist period. Fully accessible to students and readers with no knowledge of Russian, the volume includes a glossary and pronunciation guide of key Russian terms and a list of useful secondary works. The book will be of great interest to students of Russian as well as of comparative literature.

This series is designed to introduce students to key topics and authors. Accessible and lively, these introductions will also appeal to readers who want to broaden their understanding of the books and authors they enjoy.

Ideal for students, teachers, and lecturers

Concise, yet packed with essential information

Key suggestions for further reading

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Apart from the advanced beginner, there are many other categories of reader who will derive profit and enjoyment from this book. … you will embark on a literary tour … that challenges preconceived notions and liberates the imagination.' Modern Language Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521606523
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/14/2008
  • Series: Cambridge Introductions to Literature Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 306
  • Sales rank: 812,171
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Caryl Emerson is A. Watson Armour III Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations xii

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

1 Critical models, committed readers, and three Russian Ideas 11

Literary critics and their public goods 14

Three Russian Ideas 22

2 Heroes and their plots 34

Righteous persons 35

Fools 39

Frontiersmen 43

Rogues and villains 47

Society's misfits in the European style 53

The heroes we might yet see 57

3 Traditional narratives 59

Saints' lives 62

Folk tales (Baba Yaga, Koshchey the Deathless) 66

Hybrids: folk epic and Faust tale 71

Miracle, magic, law 75

4 Western eyes on Russian realities: the eighteenth century 80

Neoclassical comedy and Gallomania 84

Chulkov's Martona: life instructs art 90

Karamzin's "Poor Liza" 94

5 The astonishing nineteenth century: Romanticisms 99

Pushkin and honor 101

Duels 108

Gogol and embarrassment 114

Pretendership 118

6 Realisms: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov 125

Biographies of events, and biographies that are quests for the Word 129

Time-spaces (Dostoevsky and Tolstoy) 134

Dostoevsky and books 146

Tolstoy and doing without words 148

Poets and novelists (Dostoevsky and Nekrasov) 153

Anton Chekhov: lesser expectations, smaller forms 156

7 Symbolist and Modernist world-building: three cities, three novels, and the Devil 166

The fin de siècle: Solovyov, Nietzsche, Einstein, Pavlov's dogs, political terrorism 168

Modernist time-spaces and their modes of disruption 171

City myths: Petersburg, Moscow, OneState 179

8 The Stalin years: socialist realism, anti-fascist fairy tales, wilderness 191

What was socialist realism? 198

Cement and construction (Fyodor Gladkov) 203

The Dragonand destruction (Evgeny Shvarts) 207

Andrei Platonov and suspension 211

The "right to the lyric" in an Age of Iron 217

9 Coming to terms and seeking new terms: from the first Thaw (1956) to the end of the millennium 220

The intelligentsia and the camps (Solzhenitsyn) 224

The Underground Woman (Petrushevskaya) 230

Three ways for writers to treat matter (Sorokin, Pelevin, Akunin) 238

Notes 250

Glossary 269

Guide to further reading 282

Index 285

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