The Development of Russian Verse: Meter and its Meanings

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The Development of Russian Verse explores the Russian verse tradition from Pushkin to Brodsky, showing how certain formal features are associated with certain genres and, at times, specific themes. Michael Wachtel's basic thesis is that form is never neutral: poets can react to the work of their predecessors positively by means of stylization and development or negatively by means of parody or revision, but they cannot ignore it. Keeping technical terms to a minimum and providing English translations for all Russian quotations, Wachtel offers close readings of individual poems of more than fifty poets. His aim is to help English-speaking readers reconstruct the strong sense of continuity Russian poets have always felt, that transcends any individual epoch or ideology. Ultimately, his book is an inquiry into the nature of literary tradition itself, and how it coalesces in a country that has always taken so much of its identity from its written legacy.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In five superbly researched chapters, and an introduction and afterword that are chapter equivalents, Michael Wachtel has produced a remarkable study that fleshes out and even attaches a memorable face to several salient meters and forms....Wachtel masterfully and insightfully unravels the complicated material and renders it invitingly accessible." The Russian Review

"For comprehensive graduate and research collections" Choice

"This book can recommended most strongly. It should be bought by all libraries with a Russian collection and put on the reading list of every undergraduate and post-graduate course that involves the study of Russian poetry." Pamela Davidson, Slavic Review

"In five superbly researched chapters, and an introduction and afterword that are chapter equivalents, Michael Wachtel has produced a remarkable study that fleshes out and even attaches a memorable face to several salient meters and forms. In proving that poets think diachronically, that is they do not only draw on the themes and images of their predecessors but also resort to their use of form (which is never neutral in Russian poetry), Wachtel masterfully and insightfully inravels the complicated material and renders it invitingly accessible." The Russian Review

"The the work of a scholar who does care, and who is blessed with a ability to say cogently why all readers should. Wachtel has written an exemplary book in the tradition of scholars dedicated to teaching what they know to those who will follow." Slavic and East European Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521028141
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Russian Literature Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

Note on translations and transliterations
Introduction 1
1 The Russian ballad: passion, betrayal, revenge, and the amphibrachic tetrameter line 20
2 The blank verse lyric: "... Again I visited" revisited 59
Pushkin's evolution 59
Pushkin's legacy 78
3 The Onegin stanza: from poetic digression to poetic nostalgia 119
Origins 120
Lermontov 134
Symbolist and Futurist Onegin stanzas 144
The Onegin stanza in Soviet and emigre poetry 158
The Onegin stanza in English 164
Conclusions 168
4 Russian Arcadia: the elegiac distich and classical stylization 171
5 Heirs of Mayakovsky: the poet and the citizen 206
Afterword: the meaning of form 239
Notes 260
Bibliography 306
Index 318
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