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Experience and Memory in Moscow's Arbat
The Arbat neighborhood in central Moscow has long been home to many of Russia's most famous artists, writers, and scholars, as well as several of its leading cultural establishments. In an elegantly written and evocative portrait of a unique urban space at a time of transition, Stephen V. Bittner explores how the neighborhood changed during the period of ideological relaxation under Khrushchev that came to be known as the thaw.
The thaw is typically remembered as a golden age, a period of artistic rebirth and of relatively free expression after decades of Stalinist repression. By considering events at the Vakhtangov Theater, the Gnesin Music-Pedagogy Institute, the Union of Architects, and the Institute of World Literature, Bittner finds that the thaw was instead characterized by much confusion and contestation. As political strictures loosened after Stalin's death, cultural figures in the Arbat split-often along generational lines-over the parameters of reform and over the amount of freedom of expression now permitted.
De-Stalinization provoked great anxiety because its scope was often unclear. Particularly in debates about Khrushchev's urban-planning initiatives, which involved demolishing a part of the historical Arbat to build an ensemble of concrete-and-steel high rises, a conflict emerged over what aspects of the Russian past should be prized in memory: the late tsarist city, the utopian modernism of the early Soviet period, or the neoclassical and gothic structures of Stalinism. Bittner's book is a window onto the complex beginning of a process that is not yet complete: deciding what to jettison and what to retain from the pre-Soviet and Soviet pasts as a new Russia moves to the future.
At a time when religious conflicts and persecution plagued early modern Europe, Poland and Prussia were havens for Mennonites and other religious minorities. Noted Anabaptist scholar Peter J. Klassen examines this extraordinary example of religious tolerance. Through extensive archival research in Poland, Germany, and the Netherlands, Klassen unearths rich material that has rarely, if ever, been studied previously. He demonstrates how the interaction of religious, political, and economic factors created a situation in Poland and Prussia that permitted a diversity of religious beliefs and practices. Mennonites in Early Modern Poland and Prussia focuses on the large Mennonite community in these countries. Klassen reveals how the Anabaptist groups were treated and explores whether the uncommon religious freedom they enjoyed gave rise to a flourishing of their faith or a falling away from its central tenets. Early modern Poland and Prussia are virtually ignored in most studies of the Reformation. Klassen brings them to light and life by focusing on an unusual oasis of tolerance in the midst of a Europe convulsed by the wars of religion.
One hundred years after his death, Leo Tolstoy continues to be regarded as one of the worlds most accomplished writers. Historically, little attention has been paid to his wife Sofia Andreevna Tolstaya. Acting in the capacity of literary assistant, translator, transcriber, and editor, she played an important role in the development of her husbands career. Her memoirs which she titled My Life lay dormant for almost a century. Now their first-time-ever appearance in Russia is complemented by an unabridged and annotated English translation.
Tolstayas story takes us from her childhood through the early years of her marriage, the writing of War and Peace and Anna Karenina and into the first year of the twentieth century. She paints an intimate and honest portrait of her husbands character, providing new details about his life to which she alone was privy. She offers a better understanding of Tolstoys character, his qualities and failings as a husband and a father, and forms a picture of the quintessential Tolstoyan character which underlies his fiction.
My Life also reveals that Tolstaya was an accomplished author in her own rightas well as a translator, amateur artist, musician, photographer, and businesswomana rarity in the largely male-dominated world of the time. She was actively involved in the relief efforts for the 189192 famine and the emigration of the Doukhobors in 1899. She was a prolific correspondent, in touch with many prominent figures in Russian and Western society. Guests in her home ranged from peasants to princes, from anarchists to artists, from composers to philosophers. Her descriptions of these personalities read as a chronicle of the times, affording a unique portrait of late-19th- and early-20th-century Russian society, ranging from peasants to the Tsar himself.
My Life is the most important primary document about Tolstoy to be published in many years and a unique and intimate portrait of one of the greatest literary minds of all time.
Cold War Modernism and the Politics of Popular Culture
The Naked Communist argues that the political ideologies of modernity were fundamentally determined by four basic figures: the world, the enemy, the secret, and the catastrophe. While the "world" names the totality that functioned as the ultimate horizon of modern political imagination, the three other figures define the necessary limits of this totality by reflecting on the limits of representation. The book highlights the enduring presence of these figures in the modern imagination through detailed analysis of a concrete historical example: American anti-Communist politics of the 1950s. Its primary objective is to describe the internal mechanisms of what we could call an anti-Communist "aesthetic ideology." The book thus traces the way anti-Communist popular culture emerged in the discourse of Cold War liberalism as a political symptom of modernism. Based on a discursive analysis of American anti-Communist politics, the book presents parallel readings of modernism and popular fiction from the 1950s (nuclear holocaust novels, spy novels, and popular political novels) in order to show that, despite the radical separation of the two cultural fields, they both participated in a common ideological program.
Nomadism and National Identity in Russian Literature
The metaphor of the nomad may at first seem surprising for Russia given its history of serfdom, travel restrictions, and strict social hierarchy. But as the imperial center struggled to tame a vast territory with ever-expanding borders, ideas of mobility, motion, travel, wandering, and homelessness came to constitute important elements in the discourse about national identity. For Russians of the nineteenth century, national identity was anything but stable.
Readings for the Twenty-First Century
During the Soviet years, Fyodor Dostoevsky was the most troublesome of the nineteenth-century Russian novelists. Religious, opinionated, conservative, and chauvinistic, his work challenged the atheistic and communist foundation of the Soviet state. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Dostoevsky rapidly became the most popular Russian classic. Taking advantage of the freedoms that came with glasnost, Russian scholars have produced a wealth of new studies exploring previously neglected aspects of the writer's life and work. "The New Russian Dostoevsky: Readings for the Twenty-First Century" presents a broad range of works by Russia's finest Dostoevsky scholars, appearing here in English translation for the first time. The collection offers general studies, including essays on the latest trends in Dostoevsky scholarship, on the 150-year history of anti-Dostoevsky sentiment in Russia, on the use of new technologies to study manuscripts and print materials, and on Dostoevsky's religion and philosophy, as well as close readings and annotations of the classic novels "Crime and Punishment," "The Idiot," "Demons," and "The Brothers Karamazov." These essays combine the meticulous scholarship and authority that have always characterized the work of Russian scholars with a bracing originality and a new respect for the religious and cultural aspects of the writer's work that were neglected in the Soviet years. This book will appeal to anyone interested in Dostoevsky's work and eager to learn how he is read and studied in his homeland.
Edited by the nation's most respected senior Dostoevsky scholar, this collection brings together original work by notable writers of varying backgrounds and interests. While drawing on Dostoevsky's other fiction, journalism, and correspondence, the writing of his contemporaries, the state of Russian culture to illuminate the unfolding novel these essays also make use of new fields of scholarship, such as cognitive psychology, as well as recent theoretical approaches and critical insights. The authors propose readings remarkable for their attentiveness to detail, relatively peripheral characters, and heretofore overlooked incidents, passages, or fragments of dialogue. Some contributors suggest readings so new that they are subvert our usual modes of approaching this novel; all reflect the immediacy of adventuresome, informed encounters with Dostoevsky's final novel. Treating The Brothers Karamazov in terms of a broad range of genres (poetry, narrative, parody, confession, detective fiction) and discourses (medical, scientific, sexual, judicial, philosophical, and theological), these essays embody on a critical and analytic level a search for coherence, meaning, and harmony that continues to animate Dostoevsky's novel in our day.
Time and Text, Place and Poet
Nikolai Klyuev: Time and Text, Place and Poet is the first book in English to examine this enigmatic poet's life and work. Klyuev (1884 1937) is an important but not well understood figure in twentieth century Russian poetry. The allusions in his work to folklore, mysticism, politics, and religion, in addition to occasionally arcane vocabulary and difficult syntax, require extensive elucidation. Klyuev rose to prominence in the early twentieth century as the first of the so called "new peasant poets" before being arrested and exiled in 1933, then shot in 1937: a victim of Stalinist hostility to both his cultural ideology and his homosexuality. Makin’s feat is particularly notable because Klyuev was often elusive in his own accounts of his life; a major element of this book is an effort to clarify the poet’s strategies of self mythologization. Nikolai Klyuev: Time and Text, Place and Poet is an insightful guide to both the life and the work of an important poet still relatively unknown to a Western audience.