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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.

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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.

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Exile

The Sense of Alienation in Modern Russian Letters

David Patterson

The life of a human community rests on common experience. Yet in modem life there is an experience common to all that threatens the very basis of community -- the experience of exile. No one in the modem world has been spared the encounter with homelessness. Refugees and fugitives, the disillusioned and disenfranchised grow in number every day. Why does it happen? What does it mean? And how are we implicated?

David Patterson responds to these and related questions by examining exile, a primary motif in Russian thought over the last century and a half. By "exile" he means not only a form of punishment but an existential condition.

Drawing on texts by such familiar figures as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, and Brodsky, as well as less thoroughly examined figures, including Florensky, Shestov, Tertz, and Gendelev, Patterson moves beyond the political and geographical fact of exile to explore its spiritual, metaphysical, and linguistic aspects. Thus he pursues the connections between exile and identity, identity and meaning, meaning and language.

Patterson shows that the problem of meaning in human life is a problem of homelessness, that the effort to return from exile is an effort to return meaning to the word, and that the exile of the word is an exile of the human being. By making heard voices from the Russian wilderness, Patterson makes visible the wilderness of the world.

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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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Festschrift for Barry Scherr

edited by John M. Kopper and Michael Wachtel

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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.

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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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The First Encounter

Andrey Bely

First published in Russian in 1921 and never translated, Audrey Bely's long narrative poem—considered to be one of the great achievements of Russian Modernism—is translated to English here. A poet, critic, philosopher, and novelist, Bely was a leading figure among the Russian Symbolists, and The First Encounter is thought to be his greatest work in verse. The poem is autobiographical and reflects turn of-the-century Moscow with its mixture of entrenched positivism and new spiritualistic trends, cultural variety and the upheaval of the time.

Originally published in 1979.

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.

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The First Epoch

The Eighteenth Century and Russian Cultural Imagination

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