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Vasily Rozanov and the Body of Russian Literature

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Publication Year: 2010

Henrietta Mondry’s monograph is the first interdisciplinary and cross-cultural study of the most original and controversial turn-of-the-century Russian writer and thinker, Vasily Rozanov. Once described as the Russian Freud, Rozanov developed a unique methodology for his writing, a methodology based on the interpretation of cultural history through the lens of sexuality. As such, he can be viewed as a Russian Foucault who wrote his own original history of sexuality in application to the main Russian classical writers of the nineteenth century. The book focuses on the constructs of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality which Rozanov used to explicate the political, social, and artistic narratives of the “great five” of Russian literature: Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Ivan Turgenev, Fedor Dostoevsky, and Leo Tolstoy. Further, it explores how Rozanov applied the concept of “impure” blood in order to demonize writers and important cultural personalities from the democratic camp, thus setting a trend in Russian culture to fight an ideological enemy by exposing his or her often invented “racial” alterity. Forbidden for publication in the Soviet Union because of his political views, Rozanov enjoys an immense popularity in contemporary Russia, where his paradoxical and controversial statements have been incorporated into the propaganda employed by Russian nationalists of various denominations. In a rigorous and yet engaging manner, Mondry offers the most thought-provoking interpretation of this influential Russian thinker’s views and exposes the manipulation of his antisemitic and right-wing opinions by members of contemporary Russian political and cultural elites.

Published by: Slavica Publishers

Half-Title

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-

Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-

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Introduction; Vasily Rozanov's Philosophy of Sexuality as Body Politics

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pp. 1-21

Considered one of the most original Russian thinkers of his day, Vasily Rozanov (1856-1919) based his philosophy of sexuality on three main components: race, sex, and religion.3 Out of this philosophy he created a body politics based on the idea that sexuality, if repressed by state and religion, creates a society...

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Chapter 1. Russian Literature and Racial Hybridity: The Beilis Affair

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pp. 22-50

According to Vasily Rozanov, Russian literature was denunciatory in its very character; it corrupted and weakened society by fostering ideals that were negative and destructive.3 Rozanov was well aware of the power of the printed word in the contemporary society, especially of the impact that Russian writers had on the young...

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Chapter 2. Alexander Pushkin's Family Life as Moral Saga

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pp. 51-60

For Pushkin's centenary celebrations in 1899, Rozanov wrote a surprisingly predictable article with the unprepossessing title "A. S. Pushkin."3 In it he employed such commonplace formulae as "today marks the first centenary celebration of the principal luminary..."

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Chapter 3. Orientalizing the Orientalizer: The Case of Nikolai Gogol

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pp. 61-78

In literary criticism Gogol's writings and personality have been subjected to interpretations based on his "peculiar" sexuality, specifically homosexuality (and its repressed variant, asexuality) and necrophilia.3 Ideas about the inorganic nature of Gogol's homunculi-characters gained wide currency in literary...

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Chapter 4. A Forced Alliance: Becoming Dostoevsky

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pp. 79-100

In the history of Russian literature Vasily Rozanov is linked to Dostoevsky mainly through two well known events: Rozanov's publication of the highly popular work of literary criticism Legenda o Velikom inkvizitore F. M. Dostoevskogo (The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor by F. M. Dostoevsky; 1892); and his marriage in 1881 to Apollinaria Suslova...

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Chapter 5. Ivan Turgenev and the Ethnicity of Love

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pp. 101-114

Ivan Turgenev is one of the major nineteenth-century Russian writers whose work, as Rozanov reiterated, became unfashionable during Rozanov's times. Yet, Rozanov took upon himself the task to change this situation by appealing to the contemporary reader to focus on the themes of love and romance in...

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Chapter 6. The Russianness of Leo Tolstoy's Body as a Mirror of the Russian Family Crisis

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pp. 115-130

Leo Tolstoy, the author of The Kreutzer Sonata, the tale of a murder committed by a jealous husband, and of Anna Karenina (1873-1877), the story of an aristocratic woman driven to an extramarital affair and subsequent suicide by her sexual passions, could not have remained unnoticed by Rozanov, a leading investigator...

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Conclusion. Rozanov's Body Politics in Contemporary Post-Soviet Russia

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pp. 131-144

It should by now be clear to the reader that, if not read in its entirety, Rozanov's paratactic work can easily be misinterpreted; indeed, in many ways his work lends itself to manipulation and distortion since its very fabric is the manipulation of facts. As we know, the same "facts" could be depicted both positively...

Bibliography

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pp. 145-158

Index

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pp. 159-166

Wrap-around Book cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780893578701
E-ISBN-10: 0893578703
Print-ISBN-13: 9780893573706
Print-ISBN-10: 0893573701

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2010