Cover

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Half Title, Series Info, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

The best advisors know that listening is as crucial as speaking; the best mentors converse as much as they instruct; and the best readers are able to improve your words by showing you how to see them. I have been the happy beneficiary of many remarkable mentors, advisors, and readers, but I owe an especial debt to two. ...

Note on Spelling and Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Introduction

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pp. 3-32

When the notoriously modernist Aleksandr Dobroliubov published his first book of poems, with the knowingly cryptic title Natura Naturans. Natura Naturata (in the summer of 1895), he prompted a visceral response from Russian readers. As Petr Pertsov recalled, “It can be said that Aleksandr Dobroliubov’s first book . . . stunned the critics and the public like a brick to the head. ...

Part I. Response, Imitation, and Parody

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Chapter One. Laughably Modern: Russian Readers’ Early Encounters with Symbolism and Decadence

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pp. 35-76

Symbolism makes a strong first impression. Readers are instantly aware of their response to an art that purports to convey barely appreciable truths about the essence of the world. Reactions gravitate to the extremes: both positive and negative. A hostile reader would share a sense of confusion and exacerbation with Irina Arkadina (from Chekhov’s 1896 The Seagull), ...

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Chapter Two. Russian Symbolists and Russia’s Symbolists

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pp. 77-98

The dynamics of earnestness and parody hinge upon a more or less consistent understanding of what Russian Symbolism was for the readers of the mid-1890s. This chapter takes up that question by detailing the implications of its rather tautological, and yet quite meaningful, answer: Russian Symbolism was that which was published by the Russian Symbolists in books titled Russian Symbolists. ...

Part II. Fashioning Symbolism

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Chapter Three. Making the Symbolist Book

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pp. 101-130

In the decade following the dissolution of Symbolism as a literary force in Russia, its key practitioners embarked on a variety of attempts to summarize and define the aesthetic that had revolutionized Russia’s literary sphere over the previous fifteen years. The most ambitious of these could be found in Semen Vengerov’s Russian Literature of the 20th Century (1914–18), ...

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Chapter Four. Symbolist by Association: Almanacs, Cycles, and the Symbolist Reader

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pp. 131-166

A large portion of Russian readers of the late 1890s were accustomed to being shocked, offended, or amused by its homegrown crop of Symbolists and Decadents. The disjunction between the new art and the widely circulating print culture of late nineteenth-century Russia resulted in a sense of isolation among these young writers ...

Part III. Framing Symbolism

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Chapter Five. Covering Symbolism

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pp. 169-202

As a brand, Symbolism gained fast traction and fairly wide recognition in the mid-1890s. In the critical reviews, parodic renderings, and insults concerning their maturity, artistic talent, and mental stability hurled at the Symbolists, these poets quickly learned what being implicated in the print culture of the time entailed. ...

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Chapter Six. The Rise of Biographical Symbolism

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pp. 203-240

In 1913 Valerii Briusov published a remarkably unsymbolist poem that extolled geometric clarity and verbal exactitude. His “Sonnet to Form” (“Сонет к форме”) opens with the lines, ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 241-248

Several narratives can be constructed around the decline of Russian Symbolism. Symbolism faced an assault from both within and without: infighting and increasingly fractured relations among its most established practitioners compounded with prominent challenges to their aesthetic launched by a new generation of modernist poets. ...

Notes

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pp. 249-278

Works Cited

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pp. 279-296

Index

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pp. 297-304