Erotic Utopia: The Decadent Imagination in Russia's Fin de Siecle [NOOK Book]

Overview

The first generation of Russian modernists experienced a profound sense of anxiety resulting from the belief that they were living in an age of decline. What made them unique was their utopian prescription for overcoming the inevitability of decline and death both by metaphysical and physical means. They intertwined their mystical erotic discourse with European degeneration theory and its obsession with the destabilization of gender. In Erotic Utopia, Olga Matich suggests that same-sex desire underlay their most ...

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Erotic Utopia: The Decadent Imagination in Russia's Fin de Siecle

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Overview

The first generation of Russian modernists experienced a profound sense of anxiety resulting from the belief that they were living in an age of decline. What made them unique was their utopian prescription for overcoming the inevitability of decline and death both by metaphysical and physical means. They intertwined their mystical erotic discourse with European degeneration theory and its obsession with the destabilization of gender. In Erotic Utopia, Olga Matich suggests that same-sex desire underlay their most radical utopian proposal of abolishing the traditional procreative family in favor of erotically induced abstinence.

 

2006 Winner, CHOICE Award for Outstanding Academic Titles, Current Reviews for Academic Libraries Honorable Mention, Aldo and Jean Scaglione Prize for Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures, Modern Language Association
“Offers a fresh perspective and a wealth of new information on early Russian modernism. . . . It is required reading for anyone interested in fin-de-siècle Russia and in the history of sexuality in general.”—Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, Slavic and East European Journal

“Thoroughly entertaining.”—Avril Pyman, Slavic Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299208837
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 354
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Olga Matich is professor of Russian literature and culture at the University of California-Berkeley.
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Table of Contents


Contents
Illustrations 000
Preface 000
A Note on Transliteration 000
<LINE SPACE>
Introduction 3
1 Lev Tolstoy as Early Modernist: Fragmenting and Dissecting the Body 000
2 The Meaning of The Meaning of Love:What is Erotic about Vladimir Solov'ev's Utopia? 000
3 The Case of Alexander Blok: Marriage, Genealogy, Degeneration 000
4 Blok's Femme Fatale: History as Palimpsest 000
5 Transcending Gender: The Case of Zinaida Gippius 000
6 Religious Philosophical Meetings: Celibacy contra Marriage 000
7 Vasilii Rozanov: The Case of an Amoral Procreationist 000
Concluding Remarks 000
<LINE SPACE>
Notes 000
Index 000
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  • Posted January 22, 2009

    erotic imagination in pre-revolutionary 19th-century Russia

    In Russia, the responses to the feelings of decadence spread throughout Europe in the fin-de-siecle period of the end of the 19th century manifest 'utopian, millennial hopes to an extent unknown in Europe.' Unconventional, exotic, feverishly imaginative sexual ideas and practices were the locus of such hopes. At the heart of these were emotions and ideas about the desirability and potency of abstinence. However, this was not chastity in the religious sense, but rather a suppressed eroticism which reflected both the sense of futility relating to an apocalyptic outlook and also the anomalous hope of spiritual regeneration and transformation. Matich--professor of Russian literature and culture at the U. of California, Berkeley--lays out the varied symbols, literature, and practices of this peculiar Russian turn relating to perceived decadence in the latter 19th-century political and social disruptions and concomitant anxieties in Russia and parts of Europe. The Russian writers Tolstoy and Alexander Blok and the philosopher Dmitri Merezhovsky and the woman Zinaida Grippius with whom he had a relationship are among those critiqued for bases and variations of this Russian blending of eroticism, spirituality, vision, and politics. Matich has a solid hand on this heretofore obscure vein of Russian fin-de-siecle culture ordinarily dominated by radical political philosophers, social anarchists, and the writer Dostoevsky. The author brings cogency and breadth, and thus allure and longevity, to the subject.

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