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Area and Ethnic Studies > Russian and East European Studies

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Realizing Metaphors Cover

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Realizing Metaphors

Alexander Pushkin and the Life of the Poet

David M. Bethea

    Readers often have regarded with curiosity the creative life of the poet. In this passionate and authoritative new study, David Bethea illustrates the relation between the art and life of nineteenth-century poet Alexander Pushkin, the central figure in Russian thought and culture. Bethea shows how Pushkin, on the eve of his two-hundredth birthday, still speaks to our time. He indicates how we as modern readers might "realize"— that is, not only grasp cognitively, but feel, experience—the promethean metaphors central to the poet's intensely "sculpted" life. The Pushkin who emerges from Bethea's portrait is one who, long unknown to English-language readers, closely resembles the original both psychologically and artistically.
    Bethea begins by addressing the influential thinkers Freud, Bloom, Jakobson, and Lotman to show that their premises do not, by themselves, adequately account for Pushkin's psychology of creation or his version of the "life of the poet." He then proposes his own versatile model of reading, and goes on to sketches the tangled connections between Pushkin and his great compatriot, the eighteenth-century poet Gavrila Derzhavin. Pushkin simultaneously advanced toward and retreated from the shadow of his predecessor as he created notions of poet-in-history and inspiration new for his time and absolutely determinative for the tradition thereafter.

Redemption and the Merchant God Cover

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Redemption and the Merchant God

Dostoevsky’s Economy of Salvation and Antisemitism

McReynolds, Susan

Dostoevsky’s Russian chauvinism and anti Semitism have long posed problems for his readers and critics. How could the author of The Brothers Karamazov also be the source of the slurs against Jews in Diary of a Writer? And where is the celebrated Christian humanist in the nationalist outbursts of The Idiot? These enigmas—the coexistence of humanism and hatred, faith and doubt—are linked, Susan McReynolds tells us in Redemption and the Merchant God. Her book analyzes Dostoevsky’s novels and Diary to show how the author’s anxieties about Christianity can help solve the riddle of his anti Semitism as well as that of his Russian messianism.

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Region: Regional Studies of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia

Vol. 1 (2012) through current issue

Region is a peer-reviewed international journal that explores the history and current political, economic, and social affairs of the entire former Soviet bloc. In particular, the journal focuses on various facets of transformation at the local and national levels in the aforementioned regions, as well as the changing character of their relationships with the rest of the world in the context of globalization, a perspective that stresses both local adaptation to global phenomena and that adaptation’s transnational or even global significance.

Reinventing Romantic Poetry Cover

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Reinventing Romantic Poetry

Russian Women Poets of the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Diana Greene

Reinventing Romantic Poetry offers a new look at the Russian literary scene in the nineteenth century. While celebrated poets such as Aleksandr Pushkin worked within a male-centered Romantic aesthetic—the poet as a bard or sexual conqueror; nature as a mother or mistress; the poet’s muse as an idealized woman—Russian women attempting to write Romantic poetry found they had to reinvent poetic conventions of the day to express themselves as women and as poets. Comparing the poetry of fourteen men and fourteen women from this period, Diana Greene revives and redefines the women’s writings and offers a thoughtful examination of the sexual politics of reception and literary reputation.
The fourteen women considered wrote poetry in every genre, from visions to verse tales, from love lyrics to metaphysical poetry, as well as prose works and plays. Greene delves into the reasons why their writing was dismissed, focusing in particular on the work of Evdokiia Rostopchina, Nadezhda Khvoshchinskaia, and Karolina Pavlova. Greene also considers class as a factor in literary reputation, comparing canonical male poets with the work of other men whose work, like the women’s, was deemed inferior at the time. The book also features an appendix of significant poems by Russian women discussed in the text. Some, found in archival notebooks, are published here for the first time, and others are reprinted for the first time since the mid-nineteenth century.

Re-mapping Polish-German Historical Memory Cover

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Re-mapping Polish-German Historical Memory

Physical, Political, and Literary Spaces since World War II

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Resonant Dissonance Cover

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Resonant Dissonance

The Russian Joke in Cultural Context

Graham, Seth

In his original new study, Seth Graham analyzes a rich and forgotten vein of humor in an otherwise bleak environment. The late Soviet period (1961–1986) hardly seems fertile ground for humor, but Russian jokes (anekdoty) about life in the Soviet Union were ubiquitous. The cultural and political relaxation in the decade following Stalin’s death produced considerable optimism among Soviet citizens. The anekdot exploited and exposed what Graham calls "Soviet diglossia" (official Sovietese vs. Russian everyday language) and emphasized the distance between official myths and quotidian reality. Jokes engaged a range of official and popular culture genres and also worked meta textually, referring to the political consequences of jokes. While the dissidents of this period, who stressed the heroic and opposed everything Soviet, have been much written about, Graham’s work on the anekdoty—written in the third person, ironic, and engaged with everything Soviet—fills a hole that has been overlooked in cultural history.

Routes of Passage Cover

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Routes of Passage

Essays on the Fiction of Vladimir Makanin

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Russia on the Edge Cover

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Russia on the Edge

Imagined Geographies and Post-Soviet Identity

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russians have confronted a major crisis of identity. Soviet ideology rested on a belief in historical progress, but the post-Soviet imagination has obsessed over territory. Indeed, geographical metaphors-whether axes of north vs. south or geopolitical images of center, periphery, and border-have become the signs of a different sense of self and the signposts of a new debate about Russian identity. In Russia on the Edge, Edith W. Clowes argues that refurbished geographical metaphors and imagined geographies provide a useful perspective for examining post-Soviet debates about what it means to be Russian today.

Clowes lays out several sides of the debate. She takes as a backdrop the strong criticism of Soviet Moscow and its self-image as uncontested global hub by major contemporary writers, among them Tatyana Tolstaya and Viktor Pelevin. The most vocal, visible, and colorful rightist ideologue, Aleksandr Dugin, the founder of neo-Eurasianism, has articulated positions contested by such writers and thinkers as Mikhail Ryklin, Liudmila Ulitskaia, and Anna Politkovskaia, whose works call for a new civility in a genuinely pluralistic Russia. Dugin's extreme views and their many responses-in fiction, film, philosophy, and documentary journalism-form the body of this book.

In Russia on the Edge, literary and cultural critics will find the keys to a vital post-Soviet writing culture. For intellectual historians, cultural geographers, and political scientists the book is a guide to the variety of post-Soviet efforts to envision new forms of social life, even as a reconstructed authoritarianism has taken hold. The book introduces nonspecialist readers to some of the most creative and provocative of present-day Russia's writers and public intellectuals.

Russian Memoir Cover

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Russian Memoir

History and Literature

Holmgren, Beth

Throughout the development of modern Russian society, the memoir, with its dual agendas of individualized expression and reliable reportage, has maintained a popular and abiding national genre "contract" between Russian writers and readers. The essays in The Russian Memoir: History and Literature seek to appreciate the literary construction of this much read, yet little analyzed, form and to explore its functions as interpretive history, social modelling, and political expression in Russian culture.

Russian Prince in the Soviet State Cover

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Russian Prince in the Soviet State

Hunting Stories, Letters from Exile, and Military Memoirs

Trubetskoi, Vladimir Sergeevich

Of a noble and distinguished family disenfranchised by the Bolshevik revolution, Vladimir Trubetskoi (1892 1937) alone remained in Russia, and suffered the consequences of his decision. His life and experiences are well documented in this remarkable volume, a selection of his writings that reflects his comfortable prewar existence and his post revolutionary poverty, uncertainty, and displacement, all conveyed with humor and ironic detachment.

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