Reflective Laughter: Aspects of Humour in Russian Culture

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The end of the Cold War brought new opportunities to explore the long tradition and myriad uses of humour through over two centuries of Russian literature and culture. 'Reflective Laughter' is the first book devoted to an overview of this subject. Bringing together contributions from a number of distinguished scholars from Russia, Europe and North America, this volume ranges from the classics of nineteenth-century literature through to the intellectual and popular comedic culture, both state-sponsored and official, of the twentieth-century, taking in journalism, propaganda, scholarly discourse, jokes, films and television. In doing so, it explores how our understanding remains distorted by the polarization of the East and West during the Cold War.

This comprehensive and entertaining book will be of relevance to undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Russian and comparative literature and in cultural studies, as well as a broader audience.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

'Generally speaking, the only thing less funny than humour in translation is humour in translation as explained by a group of scholars. One should make an exception, however, for "Reflective Laughter"…a witty and informative overview [of] a broad and important topic.' —Justin Weir, Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University

'The diversity of the authors gives the book both representative breadth and a somewhat eclectic character.'  —Harley Balzer, Associate Professor of Government and International Affairs and Associate Faculty Member of the Department of History, Georgetown University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Lesley Milne is Professor and Head of Department in the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies, Nottingham University, UK.

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Table of Contents

Notes on Transliteration; Notes on the Contributors; Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction; 2. Tragicomic Principles in Pushkin's Drama 'The Covetous Knight'; 3. Gogol as a Narrator of Anecdotes; 4. Antony Pogorelsky and A.K. Tolstoi: The Origins of Kozma Prutkov; 5. Comedy between the Poles of Humour and Tragedy, Beauty and Ugliness: Prince Myshkin as a Comic Character; 6. The Young Lev Tolstoi and Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey: the Test of Irony; 7. Fashioning Life: Teffi and Women's Humour; 8. Two Facets of Comedic Space in Russian Literature of the Modern Period: How Foolishness and Buffoonery; 9. Jokers, Rogues and Innocents: Types of Comic Hero and Author from Bulgakov to Pelevin; 10. Escaping the Past?  Re-reading Soviet Satire from the Twentyfirst Century: the Case of Zoshchenko; 11. Evengy Zamiatin: The Art of Irony; 12. Godless at the Machine Tool: Antireligious Humoristic Journals of the 1920s and 1930s; 13. The Singing Masses and the Laughing State in the Musical Comedy of the Stalinist 1930s; 14. The Theory and Practice of  'Scientific Parody' in Early Soviet Russia; 15. Laughing at the Hangman: Humourous Portraits of Stalin; 16. Varieties of Reflexivity in the Russo-Soviet Anekdot; 17. Humour and Satire on Post-Soviet Russian Television

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