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Unattainable Bride Russia

Gendering Nation, State, and Intelligentsia in Russian Intellectual Culture

Ellen Rutten

Publication Year: 2010

Throughout the twentieth century and continuing today, personifications of Russia as a bride occur in a wide range of Russian texts and visual representations, from literature and political and philosophical treatises to cartoons and tattoos. Invariably, this metaphor functions in the context of a political gender allegory, which represents the relationships between Russia, the intelligentsia, and the Russian state, as a competition of two male suitors for the former’s love. In Unattainable Bride Russia, Ellen Rutten focuses on the metaphorical role the intelligentsia plays as Russia’s rejected or ineffectual suitor. Rutten finds that this metaphor, which she covers from its prehistory in folklore to present day pop culture references to Vladimir Putin, is still powerful, but has generated scarce scholarly consideration. Unattainable Bride Russia locates the cultural thread and places the political metaphor in a broad contemporary and social context, thus paying it the attention to which it is entitled as one of Russia’s modern cultural myths.

Published by: Northwestern University Press

Series: Studies in Russian Literature and Theory


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pp. vii-ix

If a panoramic view of twentieth- century Russian intellectual thought were possible, then its range of symbolic representations of Russia as unattainable bride would certainly strike the eye. The “bride Russia” of Nikolai Berdiaev’s philosophy, the equation of Russia with Lara in Doctor Zhivago, Vladimir Sorokin’s consummately Russian heroines: in their depiction of Russia...

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pp. 3-19

In 2000 in Moscow, a new collection of poems by the poet Timur Kibirov opened with the following lines...

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1. Apocalyptic Riders, World Souls, Westernized Boys, and Russian Girls: Before 1900

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pp. 20-41

Recalling a trip to the countryside, in 1826 Aleksandr Griboedov describes in an autobiographical sketch being captured by the sound of melodious dancing songs, male and female voices...

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2. Wooing “My Rus’! My Wife!”: (Pre-) Revolutionary Russia

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pp. 42-111

In the summer of 1918, the Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdiaev expresses the following view of Russia in his Philosophy of Inequality (Filosofi ia neravenstva): In the soul of the Russian people...

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3. Virgin Russia Meets Lenin and Stalin: The Soviet Years

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pp. 112-151

Technically speaking, a discussion of bridal Russia representations in Soviet culture would encompass the years 1917 through 1990. This chapter focuses solely on the period between the late 1920s and the late 1960s, however. There are reasons for this perhaps unconventional categorization. In the previous chapter we saw that 1920s (and even some 1930s) renditions of the metaphor tend to be mere repetitions of moves by authors who had used the same concept earlier....

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4. Russia’s Orgasm, or Marrying Putin: Late Soviet and Post- Soviet Culture

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pp. 152-222

When interviewed in 1991, the writer Vladimir Sorokin wondered why he was always asked about ethical and social dimensions in his work: “I don’t understand . . . aren’t those just letters on a piece of paper?”...

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pp. 223-226

When discussing the Kibirov's poems on Russia at a conference in Amsterdam in 2003, I was asked whether poetic efforts to transcend irony are not doomed to failure in today’s “post- postmodern” society. One could indeed say that the texts of a “new sincere” poet such as Kibirov are unable to avoid an all- pervading sense of irony...


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pp. 227-282


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pp. 283-314


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pp. 315-328

E-ISBN-13: 9780810164352
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810126565

Page Count: 340
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1
Series Title: Studies in Russian Literature and Theory
Series Editor Byline: Gary Saul Morson See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 794698883
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Unattainable Bride Russia

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Femininity in literature.
  • Russian literature -- History and criticism.
  • Gender identity in literature.
  • Russia -- Intellectual life.
  • Russia -- In literature.
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