Russian Literature / Edition 1

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For most English-speaking readers, Russian literature consists of a small number of individual writers - nineteenth-century masters such as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Turgenev - or a few well-known works-Chekhov's plays, Brodsky's poems, and perhaps Master and Margarila and Doctor Zhivago from the twentieth century. The medieval period, as well as the brilliant tradition of Russian lyric poetry from the eighteenth century to the present, are almost completely terra incognita, as are the complex prose experiments of Nikolai Gogol, Nikolai Leskov, Andrei Belyi and Andrei Platonov. Furthermore, those writers who have made an impact are generally known outside the contexts in which they wrote and in which their work has been received.

In this engaging book, Andrew Baruch Wachtel and Ilya Vinitsky provide a comprehensive challenging history of Russian literature, including prose, poetry and drama. It deals with a bounded time period from medieval Rus' to the present. In a number of cases, chapters overlap chronologically, thereby allowing a given period to be seen in more than one context. An introductory essay tells the story of each period, touching on the highpoints of its development and concentrating on one biography, one literary or cultural event, and one literary work - prisms through which the main outlines of a given period's development can be discerned. Although the focus is on literature, individual works, lives and events are placed in historical context as well as in the framework of parallel developments in Russian art and music.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A notable contributino to existing pedagogical and researchresources … providing a thorough, engaging overview ofRussian literature from its beginnings to the present."
Slavic and East European Journal

"The authors accomplish a rare tour de force: in remarkablyfew pages readers are exposed to the entire sweep of Russianliterary culture, not as a summary but as an intellectualcommentary on a great world literature. A terrific book forstudents and general readers alike."
Jeffrey Brooks, Johns Hopkins University

"An adventurous and provocative meditation on Russian literaryhistory that throws unexpected new light on apparently familiarfigures, as well as introducing new writers, new connections, and anew sense of context. Wachtel and Vinitsky’s account ofRussian literature gives proper emphasis to the pre-Petrine era andthe eighteenth century, as well as the nineteenth and twentiethcenturies, but is much more than a standard potted history. Theyare able to emphasise large themes, such as the role of literaturein the rise of nationalism, and at the same time to search outstriking and offbeat examples from sources such as unpublishedmemoirs. Their book is one of the most original and stimulatingaccounts of the subject to appear in any language."
Catriona Kelly, New College, Oxford

"To transmit the evolving spirit of a culture takes as muchmagic as chronology, and this mesmerizing volume delivers the bestof all worlds. At flashpoints over a thousand years, selectpersons, artworks, and events are triangulated into miniaturestories, each alive with human faces at thrilling creativerisk."
Caryl Emerson, Princeton University

"This readable, challenging book fills a serious gap in ourstudies of Russian literature: it covers the entire history ofwriting on Russian soil and it does so as proper history, with wellargued theses about the development of this literature in culturalcontext, taking culture in both aesthetic and anthropologicalsenses of the word. Fresh, persuasive readings illuminate each ofthe dozen chapters."
William Mills Todd, Harvard College

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Andrew Baruch Wachtel is Bertha and Max Dressler Professorin Humanities at Northwestern University.

Ilya Vinitsky is Assistant Professor at the University ofPennsylvania.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vi

Chronology vii

Introduction: Labyrinth of Links: Russian Literature and its Cultural Contexts 1

1 The Origins: Russian Medieval Culture 7

2 The Spirit of Peter: Russian Culture in the Eighteenth Century 31

3 The Spirit of Poetry: Russian Culture in the Age of Alexander I(1801-25) 57

4 The Russian Idea: The Quest for National Identity in Nineteenth-Century Russian Culture 89

5 Russian Psychology: The Quest for Personal Identity in Nineteenth-Century Russian Culture 125

6 Life as Theatre: Russian Modernism 157

7 The Art of the Future: The Russian Avant-Garde 182

8 The Future as Present: Soviet Culture 204

9 After the Future: Russian Thaw Culture 233

10 Instead of the Apocalypse: Russian Culture Today 261

Conclusion: Whither Russian Literature 285

Notes 294

Bibliography 302

Index 308

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2013


    Im first

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