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Erotic Nihilism in Late Imperial Russia Cover

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Erotic Nihilism in Late Imperial Russia

The Case of Mikhail Artsybashev's Sanin

Otto Boele

Banned shortly after its publication in 1907, the Russian novel Sanin scandalized readers with the sexual exploits of its eponymous hero. Wreaking havoc on the fictional town he visits in Mikhail Artsybashev’s story, the character Sanin left an even deeper imprint on the psyche of the real-life Russian public. Soon “Saninism” became the buzzword for the perceived faults of the nation. Seen as promoting a wave of hedonistic, decadent behavior, the novel was suppressed for decades, leaving behind only the rumor of its supposedly epidemic effect on a vulnerable generation of youth.
    Who were the Saninists, and what was their “teaching” all about? Delving into police reports, newspaper clippings, and amateur plays, Otto Boele finds that Russian youth were not at all swept away by the self-indulgent lifestyle of the novel’s hero. In fact, Saninism was more smoke than fire—a figment of the public imagination triggered by anxieties about the revolution of 1905 and the twilight of the Russian empire. The reception of the novel, Boele shows, reflected much deeper worries caused by economic reforms, an increase in social mobility, and changing attitudes toward sexuality.
    Showing how literary criticism interacts with the age-old medium of rumor, Erotic Nihilism in Late Imperial Russia offers a meticulous analysis of the scandal’s coverage in the provincial press and the reactions of young people who appealed to their peers to resist the novel’s nihilistic message. By examining the complex dialogue between readers and writers, children and parents, this study provides fascinating insights into Russian culture on the eve of World War I.
 

Erotic Utopia Cover

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Erotic Utopia

The Decadent Imagination in Russia's Fin de Siecle

Olga Matich

The first generation of Russian modernists experienced a profound sense of anxiety resulting from the belief that they were living in an age of decline. What made them unique was their utopian prescription for overcoming the inevitability of decline and death both by metaphysical and physical means. They intertwined their mystical erotic discourse with European degeneration theory and its obsession with the destabilization of gender. In Erotic Utopia, Olga Matich suggests that same-sex desire underlay their most radical utopian proposal of abolishing the traditional procreative family in favor of erotically induced abstinence.

 

2006 Winner, CHOICE Award for Outstanding Academic Titles, Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
 
Honorable Mention, Aldo and Jean Scaglione Prize for Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures, Modern Language Association

“Offers a fresh perspective and a wealth of new information on early Russian modernism. . . . It is required reading for anyone interested in fin-de-siècle Russia and in the history of sexuality in general.”—Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, Slavic and East European Journal

“Thoroughly entertaining.”—Avril Pyman, Slavic Review

The Escaped Mystery Cover

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The Escaped Mystery

The Poetry of Momcilo Nastasijevic

by

The Escaped Mystery is devoted to the poetry of Momčilo Nastasijević, whose poetic achievement is described by Edward Dennis Goy as “one of the greatest, if not the greatest, in the Serbian language of the twentieth century.” Although his output was small, Nastasijević was the supreme modernist Yugoslav poet of his time and is deeply respected by leading modern Serbian poets, such as Vasko Popa and Miodrag Pavlović. Emotions, sensory impressions, love, and fear make up the “mystery” behind Nastasijević’s poetry. In this book the mystery – the lyrical experience – is caught in its various aspects but never held too long or over-defined. Goy examines the language, music, and meaning of the poems in their original and through his own English translations.

Essays on Gogol Cover

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Essays on Gogol

Logos and the Russian Word

Fusso, Susanne

These fourteen essays reflect the increasingly interdisciplinary character of Russian literature research in general and of the study of Gogol in particular, focusing on specific works, Gogol's own character, and the various approaches to aesthetic, religious, and philosophical issues raised by his writing.

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Esthetics as Nightmare

Russian Literary Theory, 1855-1870

Charles A. Moser

As an epoch of "censorship terror" drew to a close with the death of Nicholas I and the end of the Crimean War, Russian intellectuals had begun expressing their desires for political, philosophical, and religious reform through passionate debates over literature and esthetics. Charles Moser re-creates the leading controversies over literature and art during a crucial period that saw the work of such authors as Turgenev, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy. Emphasizing particularly the years from 1862 to 1870, Moser presents the doctrines of lesser known and major figures from both liberal and conservative camps, which influenced the development of Socialist Realism and Russian Formalism.

The debates presented begin with a discussion of an essay by Nikolay Chernyshevsky, "Esthetic Relations of Art to Reality," which set the stage for the entire period. Among the many topics examined by the author are the doctrines of the radical critic Dmitry Pisarev and the writings of his opponents, such as Nikolay Solovev and Evgeny Edelson.

Originally published in 1989.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

The Ethics of Witnessing Cover

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The Ethics of Witnessing

The Holocaust in Polish Writers' Diaries from Warsaw, 1939-1945

Rachel Feldhay Brenner

The Ethics of Witnessing investigates the reactions of five important Polish diaristswriters—Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Maria Dąbrowska, Aurelia Wyleżyńska, ZofiaNałkowska, and Stanisław Rembek—during the period when the Nazis persecuted and murdered Warsaw’s Jewish population. The responses to the Holocaust of these prominent prewar authors extended from insistence on empathic interaction with victims to resentful detachment from Jewish suffering. Whereas some defied the dehumanization of the Jews and endeavored to maintain intersubjective relationships with the victims they attempted to rescue, others selfdeceptively evaded the Jewish plight. The Ethics of Witnessing examines the extent to which ideologies of humanism and nationalism informed the diarists’ perceptions, proposing that the reality of the Final Solution exposed the limits of both orientations and ultimately destroyed the ethical landscape shaped by the Enlightenment tradition, which promised the equality and fellowship of all human beings.

Fast Forward Cover

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Fast Forward

The Aesthetics and Ideology of Speed in Russian Avant-Garde Culture, 1910–1930

Tim Harte

Life in the modernist era not only moved, it sped. As automobiles, airplanes, and high-speed industrial machinery proliferated at the turn of the twentieth century, a fascination with speed influenced artists—from Moscow to Manhattan—working in a variety of media. Russian avant-garde literary, visual, and cinematic artists were among those striving to elevate the ordinary physical concept of speed into a source of inspiration and generate new possibilities for everyday existence.
    Although modernism arrived somewhat late in Russia, the increased tempo of life at the start of the twentieth century provided Russia’s avant-garde artists with an infusion of creative dynamism and crucial momentum for revolutionary experimentation. In Fast Forward Tim Harte presents a detailed examination of the images and concepts of speed that permeated Russian modernist poetry, visual arts, and cinema. His study illustrates how a wide variety of experimental artistic tendencies of the day—such as “rayism” in poetry and painting, the effort to create a “transrational” language (zaum’) in verse, and movements seemingly as divergent as neo-primitivism and constructivism—all relied on notions of speed or dynamism to create at least part of their effects.     
    Fast Forward reveals how the Russian avant-garde’s race to establish a new artistic and social reality over a twenty-year span reflected an ambitious metaphysical vision that corresponded closely to the nation’s rapidly changing social parameters. The embrace of speed after the 1917 Revolution, however, paradoxically hastened the movement’s demise. By the late 1920s, under a variety of historical pressures, avant-garde artistic forms morphed into those more compatible with the political agenda of the Russian state. Experimentation became politically suspect and abstractionism gave way to orthodox realism, ultimately ushering in the socialist realism and aesthetic conformism of the Stalin years.

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Febris Erotica

Lovesickness in the Russian Literary Imagination

by Valeria Sobol

The destructive power of obsessive love was a defining subject of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Russian literature. In Febris Erotica, Sobol argues that Russian writers were deeply preoccupied with the nature of romantic relationships and were persistent in their use of lovesickness not simply as a traditional theme but as a way to address pressing philosophical, ethical, and ideological concerns through a recognizable literary trope. Sobol examines stereotypes about the damaging effects of romantic love and offers a short history of the topos of lovesickness in Western literature and medicine.

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The Fiction of the Poet

In the Post-Symbolist Mode

Anna Elizabeth Balakian

Addressing all readers who value the beauty of language, Anna Balakian examines the work of five twentieth-century poets--Yeats, Valry, Rilke, Stevens, and Guilln--to show how the linguistic richness of the symbolist tradition continued well into the modern period. These writers, all of whom learned the poetry of language from Mallarm, compensated for the disappearance of metaphysical inclinations in early twentieth-century poetry by instituting a poetic fiction. Balakian finds the immersion of the "I" and its altered reflection in the work of art to be a common feature of their poetry, and explores how they replaced the conventional meaning of signifiers grown stale, such as the abused word "poet," which became musician, artist, dancer, acrobat, mime, tapestry weaver, rider of the earth and the skies. In the works of these poets, the symbol evolved into a selective system of communication that identified implicitly the realms of human dilemma in regard to time, space, place, and reality in an indifferent universe. Balakian explains how the poets made language posit the major problems of existence and survival through metaphors of transition and, with the polysemy of their discourse, spoke to each reader on his or her terms. Like a serial musical composition, this literary interpretation interweaves leitmotifs from one writer to another, creating a basic cohesion while revealing variations and transformations in their poetry.

Originally published in 1992.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Finding the Middle Ground Cover

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Finding the Middle Ground

Krestovskii, Tur, and the Power of Ambivalence in Nineteenth Century Russian Women's Prose

Gheith, Jehanne

Though among the most prominent writers in Russia in the mid nineteenth century, Evgeniia Tur (1815 92) and V. Krestovskii (1820? 89) are now little known. By looking in depth at these writers, their work, and their historical and aesthetic significance, Jehanne M. Gheith shows how taking women's writings into account transforms traditional understandings of the field of nineteenth century Russian literature. Gheith's analysis of these writers' biographies, prose, and criticism intervenes in debates about the Russian literary tradition in general, Russian women's writing in particular, and feminist criticism on female authors and authority as it has largely been developed in and for Western contexts.

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