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Russian Literature


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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

About the Author

Andrew Baruch Wachtel is Bertha and Max Dressler Professor in Humanities at Northwestern University.
Ilya Vinitsky is Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.


"A notable contributino to existing pedagogical and research resources ... providing a thorough, engaging overview of Russian literature from its beginnings to the present."
Slavic and East European Journal

"The authors accomplish a rare tour de force: in remarkably few pages readers are exposed to the entire sweep of Russian literary culture, not as a summary but as an intellectual commentary on a great world literature. A terrific book for students and general readers alike."
Jeffrey Brooks, Johns Hopkins University

"An adventurous and provocative meditation on Russian literary history that throws unexpected new light on apparently familiar figures, as well as introducing new writers, new connections, and a new sense of context. Wachtel and Vinitsky's account of Russian literature gives proper emphasis to the pre-Petrine era and the eighteenth century, as well as the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but is much more than a standard potted history. They are able to emphasise large themes, such as the role of literature in the rise of nationalism, and at the same time to search out striking and offbeat examples from sources such as unpublished memoirs. Their book is one of the most original and stimulating accounts of the subject to appear in any language."
Catriona Kelly, New College, Oxford

"To transmit the evolving spirit of a culture takes as much magic as chronology, and this mesmerizing volume delivers the best of all worlds. At flashpoints over a thousand years, select persons, artworks, and events are triangulated into miniature stories, each alive with human faces at thrilling creative risk."
Caryl Emerson, Princeton University

"This readable, challenging book fills a serious gap in our studies of Russian literature: it covers the entire history of writing on Russian soil and it does so as proper history, with well argued theses about the development of this literature in cultural context, taking culture in both aesthetic and anthropological senses of the word. Fresh, persuasive readings illuminate each of the dozen chapters."
William Mills Todd, Harvard College

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