We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Russia's Legal Fictions

Harriet Murav

Publication Year: 1998

Legal scholars and literary critics have shown the significance of storytelling, not only as part of the courtroom procedure, but as part of the very foundation of law. Russia's Legal Fictions examines the relationship between law, narrative and authority in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russia. The conflict between the Russian writer and the law is a well-known feature of Russian literary life in the past two centuries. With one exception, the authors discussed in this book--Sukhovo-Kobylin, Akhsharumov, Suvorin, and Dostoevsky in the nineteenth century and Solzhenitsyn and Siniavskii in the twentieth--were all put on trial. In Russia's Legal Fictions, Harriet Murav starts with the authors' own writings about their experience with law and explores the history of these Russian literary trials, including censorship, libel cases, and one case of murder, in their specific historical context, showing how particular aspects of the culture of the time relate to the case. The book explores the specifically Russian literary and political conditions in which writers claim the authority not only as the authors of fiction but as lawgivers in the realm of the real, and in which the government turns to the realm of the literary to exercise its power. The author uses specific aspects of Russian culture, history and literature to consider broader theoretical questions about the relationship between law, narrative, and authority. Murav offers a history of the reception of the jury trial and the development of a professional bar in late Imperial Russia as well as an exploration of theories of criminality, sexuality, punishment, and rehabilitation in Imperial and Soviet Russia. This book will be of interest to scholars of law and literature and Russian law, history and culture. Harriet Murav is Associate Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature, University of California at Davis.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: Law, Meaning, and Violence


pdf iconDownload PDF (22.2 KB)
pp. vii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (47.4 KB)
pp. ix

Research for this publication was supported by grants (in 1989 and 1992) from the International Research and Exchanges Board, with funds provided by the U.S. Department of State (Title VIII program) and the National Endowment for the Humanities. None of these...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.0 MB)
pp. 1-14

Much has been written in recent years about the relation between law and the realm of fiction, narrative, and rhetoric. 1 We have been told that law is vulnerable to the same contingencies of interpretation as any other written text and is as dependent on the master narratives of its...

read more

1. The Theater of Sukhovo-Kobylin

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.8 MB)
pp. 15-54

On November 9,1850, in the Presnenskii district of Moscow, the police officer Il'inskii reported to his chief, the ober-politsmeister of Moscow, that "outside the Presnenskii gate on Khodynskoe field the dead body of a woman of unknown identity had been...

read more

2. Trial by Jury and Trials of the Jury

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.6 MB)
pp. 55-91

The legal reform of 1864 initiated by the government of Alexander II transformed the trial from a secret, written proceeding based on the "inquisitorial" principle into an open, public, oral proceeding organized to a far greater degree by the adversarial principle...

read more

3. Crimes of Fiction/Fictitious Crimes: A. S. Suvorin and N. D. Akhsharumov

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.2 MB)
pp. 93-123

The "great reforms" of Alexander II, which brought radical change to Russia's courts, also changed the way the Russian press was regulated. A law of 1865 suspended most of the harsh preliminary censorship that had been in place since the early part of the century...

read more

4. Dostoevsky's Diary: A Child Is Being Beaten

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.3 MB)
pp. 125-155

In The Diary of a Writer, his unique one-man monthly journal, Dostoevsky is fascinated by the new jury trials and the new institution of the bar.2 He had already written about the law in his journalistic work of the early 1860s and in his fiction up to 1876, the year he began...

read more

5. Testimony and Testament: Solzhenitsyn and the Scar of the Gulag

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.6 MB)
pp. 157-191

Solzhenitsyn was an inmate of the Gulag from 1945 to 1953. His crime was having written a few negative remarks about Stalin in a letter to a friend. He was indicted under article 58, point 11 of the Soviet criminal code, participation in an organization for the purpose of propaganda...

read more

6. Siniavskii, Libel, and the Author's Liability

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.8 MB)
pp. 193-231

The trial and conviction of lulii Daniel' and Andrei Siniavskii in 1966 is not a unique instance of the Soviet government's brutality toward its writers. 1In 1964, the poet Joseph Brodsky was arrested. Without regular employment, Brodsky was in violation of the law requiring...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (977.4 KB)
pp. 233-245

In writing this work, I have been nagged by the thought that no matter how interesting or compelling the materials I describe may be, their import may be dismissed because I am talking about Russia, and the target of discussion in the law-and-humanities field is invariably...


pdf iconDownload PDF (822.1 KB)
pp. 247-257


pdf iconDownload PDF (290.2 KB)
pp. 259-263

E-ISBN-13: 9780472023332
E-ISBN-10: 0472023330
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472108794
Print-ISBN-10: 0472108794

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 1998

Series Title: Law, Meaning, and Violence