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Slavic Sins of the Flesh

Food, Sex, and Carnal Appetite in Nineteenth-Century Russian Fiction

Ronald D. LeBlanc

Publication Year: 2009

A pathbreaking “gastrocritical” approach to the poetics of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and their contemporaries This remarkable work by Ronald D. LeBlanc is the first study to appraise the representation of food and sexuality in the nineteenth-century Russian novel. Meticulously researched and elegantly and accessibly written, Slavic Sins of the Flesh sheds new light on classic literary creations as it examines how authors Nikolay Gogol, Ivan Goncharov, Grigorii Kvitka-Osnovyanenko, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Lev Tolstoy used eating in their works as a trope for male sexual desire. The treatment of carnal desire in these renowned works of fiction stimulated a generation of young writers to challenge Russian culture’s anti-eroticism, supreme spirituality, and utter disregard for the life of the body, so firmly rooted in centuries of ideological domination by the Orthodox Church.

Published by: University of New Hampshire Press

Series: Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies


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Title Page, Copyright

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p. v

Acknowledgments / Note on Transliteration, Citation, and Translation

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pp. vii-x

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1. Introduction: Food and Sex in Russian Literature

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pp. 1-39

The humorous exchange above between the precocious thirteen-year-old pupil, Thomasina Coverly, and her twenty- two-year-old tutor, Septimus Hodge, at the opening of Tom Stoppard’s play...

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2. Eating as Power: Dostoevsky and Carnivorousness

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pp. 40-97

In The Abortion (1970), a rather fanciful American novel set in the late 1960s, Richard Brautigan describes a public library located somewhere in California that accepts books from its patrons rather than lends them...

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3. Eating as Pleasure: Tolstoy and Voluptuousness

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pp. 98-157

Whereas it seems rather oxymoronic, as we saw in the previous chapter, to speak about a “culinary” Dostoevsky, it seems entirely appropriate to link gastronomy and literature in the case of...

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4. Carnality and Morality in Fin de Siècle and Revolutionary Russia

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pp. 158-226

The shadow cast by Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, the two giants of the great nineteenth-­ century Russian novel, on the literature, culture, and intellectual life of late imperial Russia is indisputably enormous...

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5. Conclusion: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and the Human Animal

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pp. 227-237

In this study of carnal desire, as it is represented in works by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and other writers in nineteenth-­ century and early-­ twentieth-­century Russia, our discussion began with the oral regression and infantilism...


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pp. 239-299


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pp. 301-322


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pp. 323-338

E-ISBN-13: 9781584658245
E-ISBN-10: 158465824X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781584657675
Print-ISBN-10: 1584657677

Page Count: 356
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies
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OCLC Number: 667076684
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Slavic Sins of the Flesh

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Tolstoy, Leo, -- graf, -- 1828-1910 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Dostoyevsky, Fyodor, -- 1821-1881 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Pleasure in literature.
  • Desire in literature.
  • Food in literature.
  • Sex in literature.
  • Russian fiction -- 19th century -- History and criticism.
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