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Area and Ethnic Studies > Russian and East European Studies

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Petersburg/Petersburg Cover

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Petersburg/Petersburg

Novel and City, 1900–1921

Olga Matich

Since its founding three hundred years ago, the city of Saint Petersburg has captured the imaginations of the most celebrated Russian writers, whose characters map the city by navigating its streets from the aristocratic center to the gritty outskirts. While Tsar Peter the Great planned the streetscapes of Russia’s northern capital as a contrast to the muddy and crooked streets of Moscow, Andrei Bely’s novel Petersburg (1916), a cornerstone of Russian modernism and the culmination of the “Petersburg myth” in Russian culture, takes issue with the city’s premeditated and supposedly rational character in the early twentieth century.
    “Petersburg”/Petersburg studies the book and the city against and through each other. It begins with new readings of the novel—as a detective story inspired by bomb-throwing terrorists, as a representation of the aversive emotion of disgust, and as a painterly avant-garde text—stressing the novel’s phantasmagoric and apocalyptic vision of the city. Taking a cue from Petersburg’s narrator, the rest of this volume (and the companion Web site, stpetersburg.berkeley.edu/) explores the city from vantage points that have not been considered before—from its streetcars and iconic art-nouveau office buildings to the slaughterhouse on the city fringes. From poetry and terrorist memoirs, photographs and artwork, maps and guidebooks of that period, the city emerges as a living organism, a dreamworld in flux, and a junction of modernity and modernism.

Pleasures in Socialism Cover

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Pleasures in Socialism

Leisure and Luxury in the Eastern Bloc

David

Essays from top scholars address topics ranging from fashion and game shows to smoking and camping. The authors of the essays in this collection investigate the ways in which pleasurable activities, like many other facets of daily life, were both a space in which these communist governments tried to insinuate themselves and thereby further expand the reach of their authority, and also an opportunity for people to assert their individuality.

Plot of Her Own Cover

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Plot of Her Own

The Female Protagonist in Russian Literature

Hoisington, Sona

A Plot of Her Own presents compelling new readings of major texts in the Russian literary canon, all of which are readily available in translation. The female protagonists in the works examined are inextricably linked with the fundamental issues raised by the novels they inform; the interpretations offered strive not to be reductive or doctrinaire, not to be imposed from the outside but to arise from the texts themselves and the historical circumstances in which they were written. Authors discussed include Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Bulgakov, and the novels considered range from Fathers and Children to Zamyatin's anti Utopian We. Throughout, the contributors new visions expand our understanding of the words and reveal new significance in them.

Plotting History Cover

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Plotting History

The Russian Historical Novel in the Imperial Age

Dan Ungurianu

Balanced precariously between fact and fiction, the historical novel is often viewed with suspicion. Some have attacked it as a mongrel form, a “bastard son” born of “history’s flagrant adultery with imagination.” Yet it includes some of the most celebrated achievements of Russian literature, with Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, and scores of other writers contributing to this tradition.
    Dan Ungurianu’s Plotting History traces the development of the Russian historical novel from its inception in the romantic era to the emergence of Modernism on the eve of the Revolution. Organized historically and thematically, the study is focused on the cultural paradigms that shaped the evolution of the genre and are reflected in masterpieces such as The Captain’s Daughter and War and Peace. Ungurianu examines the variety of approaches by which Russian writers combined fact with fiction and explores the range of subjects that inspired the Russian historical imagination.

Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine

“Ungurianu has produced a most valuable work for literary scholars.”—Andrew M. Drozd, Slavic and East European Journal

“[Ungurianu’s] overwhelming knowledge, impeccable documentation, erudite notes, and valuable addenda make for a treasure house of information and keen analysis. . . . Essential.”—Choice

The Poetics of Impudence and Intimacy in the Age of Pushkin Cover

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The Poetics of Impudence and Intimacy in the Age of Pushkin

Joe Peschio

In early nineteenth-century Russia, members of jocular literary societies gathered to recite works written in the lightest of genres: the friendly verse epistle, the burlesque, the epigram, the comic narrative poem, the prose parody. In a period marked by the Decembrist Uprising and heightened state scrutiny into private life, these activities were hardly considered frivolous; such works and the domestic, insular spaces within which they were created could be seen by the Russian state as rebellious, at times even treasonous.
    Joe Peschio offers the first comprehensive history of a set of associated behaviors known in Russian as “shalosti,” a word which at the time could refer to provocative behaviors like practical joking, insubordination, ritual humiliation, or vandalism, among other things, but also to literary manifestations of these behaviors such as the use of obscenities in poems, impenetrably obscure allusions, and all manner of literary inside jokes. One of the period’s most fashionable literary and social poses became this complex of behaviors taken together. Peschio explains the importance of literary shalosti as a form of challenge to the legitimacy of existing literary institutions and sometimes the Russian regime itself. Working with a wide variety of primary texts—from verse epistles to denunciations, etiquette manuals, and previously unknown archival materials—Peschio argues that the formal innovations fueled by such “prankish” types of literary behavior posed a greater threat to the watchful Russian government and the literary institutions it fostered than did ordinary civic verse or overtly polemical prose.

Popular Theatre Movement in Russia Cover

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Popular Theatre Movement in Russia

1862 1919

Thurston, Gary

After the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, educated Russians began to present plays as part of a crusade to "civilize" the peasants. Relying on archival and published material virtually unknown outside Russia, this study looks at how playwrights criticized Russian social and political realities, how various groups perceived their plays, and how the plays motivated viewers to change themselves or change their circumstances. The picture that emerges is of a potent civic art influential in a way that eluded and challenged authoritarian control.

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Poverty of the Imagination

Nineteenth Century Russian Literature about the Poor

Herman, David

The primal scene of all nineteenth century western thought might involve an observer gazing at someone poor, most commonly on the streets of a great metropolis, and wondering what the spectacle meant in human, moral, political, and metaphysical terms. For Russia, most of whose people hovered near the poverty line throughout history, the scene is one of special significance, presenting a plethora of questions and possibilities for writers who wished to depict the spiritual and material reality of Russian life. How these writers responded, and what their portrayal of poverty reveals and articulates about core values of Russian culture, is the subject of this book, which offers a compelling look into the peculiar convergence in nineteenth century Russian literature of ideas about the poor and about the processes of art.

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A Pragmatic Alliance

Jewish-Lithuanian political cooperation at the beginning of the 20th century

Edited by Vladas Sirutavičius, Darius Staliūnas

Discusses the political cooperation between Jews and Lithuanians in the Tsarist Empire from the last decades of the 19th century until the early 1920s. These years saw the transformation of both Jewish and Lithuanian political life. Within the Jewish community, the previously dominant integrationists were now challenged both by those who believed that the Jews were not a religious but an ethnic or proto-nationalist group and those who believed that only with the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of a socialist state would Jewish integration be possible. Among the Lithuanians, the emergence of a modern national identity became increasingly prevalent.

Prodigal Son Cover

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Prodigal Son

Vasilii Shuksin in Soviet Russian Culture

Givens, John

The Prose of Life Cover

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The Prose of Life

Russian Women Writers from Khrushchev to Putin

Benjamin M. Sutcliffe

Both before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, everyday life and the domestic sphere served as an ideological battleground, simultaneously threatening Stalinist control and challenging traditional Russian gender norms that had been shaken by the Second World War. The Prose of Life examines how six female authors employed images of daily life to depict women’s experience in Russian culture from the 1960s to the present. Byt, a term connoting both the everyday and its many petty problems, is an enduring yet neglected theme in Russian literature: its very ordinariness causes many critics to ignore it. Benjamin Sutcliffe’s study is the first sustained examination of how and why everyday life as a literary and philosophical category catalyzed the development of post-Stalinist Russian women’s prose, particularly since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
    A focus on the representation of everyday life in women’s prose reveals that a first generation of female writers (Natal’ia Baranskaia, Irina Grekova) both legitimated and limited their successors (Liudmila Petrushevskaia, Tat’iana Tolstaia, Liudmila Ulitskaia, and Svetlana Vasilenko) in their choice of literary topics. The Prose of Life traces the development, and intriguing ruptures, of recent Russian women’s prose, becoming a must-read for readers interested in Russian literature and gender studies.

2009 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine

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