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Yankees in Petrograd, Bolsheviks in New York

America and Americans in Russian Literary Perception

Milla Fedorova

Publication Year: 2013

In Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s What Is to Be Done?, one of the protagonists feigns suicide and goes to America. In Fedor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Svidrigailov, announces: “I’m going to America,” then commits suicide. When in America—“on the other shore,” as Russians sometimes put it—Russian émigré characters and writers often feel that, although they have now acquired a new life, this life approximates a posthumous experience. Although the country across the ocean had already begun to acquire concrete historical features in the Russian mind by the last quarter of the eighteenth century, connotations of the Other World, the land on the other side of earthly existence, still lurk in the background of literary texts about the New World. This mythological perception of the New World is not exclusively Russian, but in Russia the mythological concept gained a specificity and a concrete form that persisted through many eras and appeared in the works of very different authors.

Published by: Northern Illinois University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This book would not have been possible without the help of many people— colleagues, teachers, students, and editors—to whom I am sincerely grateful. I am blessed with wonderful colleagues at the Department of Slavic Languages at Georgetown University—David Andrews, Svetlana Grenier, ...

Note on Transliteration, Translation, and Citation

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. 3-22

In Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s What Is to Be Done? one of the protagonists feigns suicide yet goes to America. Conversely, in Fedor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the antagonist, Svidrigailov, announces: “I’m going to America” yet commits suicide. ...

Part I—Bolsheviks in New York

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1—Pre-revolutionary Discoveries of America: Korolenko and Gorky

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pp. 25-51

The genre of Russian autobiographical literary travelogues, which later determined the Soviet image of America, took polemical shape in the waning nineteenth century. Both the Marxist-oriented Maksim Gorky1 and a number of Populist writers, including Grigorii Machtet, Vladimir Bogoraz, and Vladimir Korolenko, contributed to the genre. ...

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2—Post-revolutionary Columbuses: Esenin and Mayakovsky

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pp. 52-72

For the most part, America did not feature prominently in Russian literature in the years leading up to World War I and the 1917 Revolution, although several noteworthy exceptions deserve mention, among them Alexander Blok’s poem, “Novaia Amerika,” (New America, 1913),1 and Osip Mandelstam’s “Amerikanka” (American Girl, 1913), ...

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3—Automobile Journeys of the 1930s: Pilniak and Ilf and Petrov

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pp. 73-98

In 1933, the Soviet Union was finally officially recognized by the United States, its major ideological rival and “negative ideal.” The amicable period in official relations between the two countries was, however, short-lived and less than idyllic, owing to ongoing antagonism between the two socio-economic systems.1 ...

Part II—The American Text of Russian Literature

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4—Recurrent Subtexts and Motifs in American Travelogues

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pp. 101-190

In previous chapters of this book, I posited three periods in the evolution of Russian literary journeys to America and examined the travelogue writers’ shifting political and rhetorical goals, as well as their individual stylistic peculiarities within each of these periods. In this part, I will adopt a diachronic approach. ...

Part III—Yankees in Petrograd

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5—Reverse American Travelogues

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pp. 193-217

American characters appear in Russian literature not only as objects of observation for Russian travelers in America, but also as subjects of their own journeys to the other shore. After the October Revolution, many American visitors were attracted to Russia by a sincere interest in the country’s unprecedented social experiment ...

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Conclusion: From Dante’s Inferno to Odysseus’s Ithaca

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pp. 218-226

In the present study I have restricted my material to the travelogues of writers for whom journeying to America was a free choice—in Soviet times even a privilege, since they were plenipotentiaries of their motherland. But although the choice to travel was free, the choice of what to write was not. ...

Appendix 1: Lexical and Grammatical Neologisms in Pilniak’s OK

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pp. 227-232

Appendix 2: The Transatlantic Journey

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pp. 233-234


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pp. 235-272


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pp. 273-290


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pp. 291-299

E-ISBN-13: 9781609090852
Print-ISBN-13: 9780875804705

Page Count: 350
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 867741322
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Yankees in Petrograd, Bolsheviks in New York

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • United States -- Description and travel -- In literature.
  • Americans in literature.
  • Authors, Russian -- Travel -- United States.
  • Travelers' writings, Russian -- 19th century -- History and criticism.
  • Travelers' writings, Russian -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
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