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Literature > Russian and East European Literature

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The Imperial Sublime Cover

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The Imperial Sublime

A Russian Poetics of Empire

Harsha Ram

The Imperial Sublime examines the rise of the Russian empire as a literary theme simultaneous with the evolution of Russian poetry between the 1730s and 1840—the century during which poets defined the main questions facing Russian literature and society. Harsha Ram shows how imperial ideology became implicated in an unexpectedly wide range of issues, from formal problems of genre, style, and lyric voice to the vexed relationship between the poet and the ruling monarch.

Imre Kertész and Holocaust Literature Cover

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Imre Kertész and Holocaust Literature

Edited by Louise O. Vasvári and Steven Totosy de Zepetnek

Imre Kertész and Holocaust Literature, the first English language volume on the work of the 2002 Nobel Laureate in Literature contains papers by scholars in Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand, and the USA, as well as historical papers about the background of the Holocaust in Hungary

Isaac Babel and the Self-Invention of Odessan Modernism Cover

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Isaac Babel and the Self-Invention of Odessan Modernism

Rebecca Jane Stanton

In what marks an exciting new critical direction, Rebecca Stanton contends that the city of Odessa—as a canonical literary image and as a kaleidoscopic cultural milieu—shaped the narrative strategies developed by Isaac Babel and his contemporaries of the Revolutionary generation. Modeling themselves on the tricksters and rogues of Odessa lore, Babel and his fellow Odessans Val­entin Kataev and Yury Olesha manipulated their literary personae through complex, playful, and often subversive negotiations of the boundary between autobiography and fiction. In so doing, they cannily took up a place prepared for them in the Russian canon and fostered modes of storytelling that both reflected and resisted the aesthetics of Socialist Realism. Stanton concludes with a rereading of Babel’s “autobiographical” stories and examines their leg­acy in post-Thaw works by Kataev, Olesha, and Konstantin Paustovsky.

Jews and Ukrainians in Russia's Literary Borderlands Cover

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Jews and Ukrainians in Russia's Literary Borderlands

From the Shtetl Fair to the Petersburg Bookshop

Amelia M. Glaser

Studies of Eastern European literature have largely confined themselves to a single language, culture, or nationality. In this highly original book, Glaser shows how writers working in Russian, Ukrainian, and Yiddish during much of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century were in intense conversation with one another. The marketplace was both the literal locale at which members of these different societies and cultures interacted with one another and a rich subject for representation in their art. It is commonplace to note the influence of Gogol on Russian literature, but Glaser shows him to have been a profound influence on Ukrainian and Yiddish literature as well. And she shows how Gogol must be understood not only within the context of his adopted city of St. Petersburg but also that of his native Ukraine. As Ukrainian and Yiddish literatures developed over this period, they were shaped by their geographical and cultural position on the margins of the Russian Empire. As distinctive as these writers may seem from one another, they are further illuminated by an appreciation of their common relationship to Russia. Glaser’s book paints a far more complicated portrait than scholars have traditionally allowed of Jewish (particularly Yiddish) literature in the context of Eastern European and Russian culture.

Kingdom of Insignificance Cover

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Kingdom of Insignificance

The Traumatic, the Quotidian, and the Queer in the Life-Writing of Miron Bialoszewski

Joanna Nizynska

Joanna Niżyńska has written the first scholarly book in English on Miron Białoszewski (1922 – 1983), a major figure in twentieth-century Polish literature.

Kundera and Modernity Cover

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Kundera and Modernity

by Liisa Steinby

While a large amount of scholarship about Milan Kundera's work exists, in Liisa Steinby's opinion his work has not been studied within the context of (European) modernity as a sociohistorical and a cultural concept. Of course, he is considered to be a modernist writer (some call him even a postmodernist), but what the broader concept of modernity intellectually, historically, socially, and culturally means for him and how this is expressed in his texts has not been thoroughly examined. Steinby's book fills this vacuum by analyzing Kundera's novels from the viewpoint of his understanding of the existential problems in the culture of modernity. In addition, his relation to those modernist novelists from the first half of the twentieth century who are most important for him is scrutinized in detail. Steinby’s Kundera and Modernity is intended for students of modernism in literary and (comparative) cultural studies, as well as those interested in European and Central European studies. Key Points: • Offers new insights into the work of the popular modern writer Milan Kundera. • Expands the reader’s understanding of the meaning of the concept of “modernity.” • Widens the literature available in English about Central European culture. Quote: “This work is superb. By examining the works and traditions that Kundera claims to have influenced him, Steinby demonstrates how Kundera’s misreading of previous novelists as well as his own desire to be taken out of the Czech or Central European context has informed his own work. This book is the result of many years of painstaking research.” Craig Cravens, Indiana University

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Lermontov's Narratives of Heroism

Golstein, Vladimir

This is the first study of Russian writer Mikhail Lermontov (1814 41) that attempts to integrate the in depth interpretations of all his major texts including his famous A Hero of Our Time, the novel that laid the foundation for the Russian psychological novel. Lermontov's explorations of the virtues and limitations of heroic, self reliant conduct have subsequently become obscured or misread. This new book focuses upon the peculiar, disturbing, and arguably most central feature of Russian culture: its suspicion of and hostility toward individual achievement and self assertion. The analysis and interpretation of Lermontov's texts enables Golstein to address broader cultural issues by exploring the reasons behind the persistent misreading of Lermontov's major works and by investigating the cultural attitudes that shaped Russia's reaction to the challenges of modernity.

Limits to Interpretation Cover

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Limits to Interpretation

The Meanings of Anna Karenina

Vladimir E. Alexandrov

Vladimir E. Alexandrov advocates a broad revision of the academic study of literature and proposes an adaptive, text-specific reading methodology that is designed to minimize the circularity of interpretation inherent in the act of reading. He illustrates this method on the example of Tolstoy’s classic novel via a detailed "map" of the different possible readings that the novel can support.  Anna Karenina emerges as deeply conflicted, polyvalent, and quite unlike what one finds in other critical studies.

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Lotman and Cultural Studies

Encounters and Extensions

Edited by Andreas Schonle

     One of the most widely read and translated theorists of the former Soviet Union, Yurii Lotman was a daring and imaginative thinker. A cofounder of the Tartu-Moscow school of semiotics, he analyzed a broad range of cultural phenomena, from the opposition between Russia and the West to the symbolic construction of space, from cinema to card playing, from the impact of theater on painting to the impact of landscape design on poetry. His insights have been particularly important in conceptualizing the creation of meaning and understanding the function of art and literature in society, and they have enriched the work of such diverse figures as Paul Ricoeur, Stephen Greenblatt, Umberto Eco, Wolfgang Iser, Julia Kristeva, and Frederic Jameson.
     In this volume, edited by Andreas Schönle, contributors extend Lotman's theories to a number of fields. Focusing on his less frequently studied later period, Lotman and Cultural Studies engages with such ideas as the "semiosphere," the fluid, dynamic semiotic environment out of which meaning emerges; "auto-communication," the way in which people create narratives about themselves that in turn shape their self-identity; change, as both gradual evolution and an abrupt, unpredictable "explosion"; power; law and mercy; Russia and the West; center and periphery.
     As William Mills Todd observes in his afterword, the contributors to this volume test Lotman's legacy in a new context: "Their research agendas-Iranian and American politics, contemporary Russian and Czech politics, sexuality and the body-are distant from Lotman's own, but his concepts and awareness yield invariably illuminating results."

Making Modernism Soviet Cover

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Making Modernism Soviet

The Russian Avant-Garde in the Early Soviet Era, 1918-1928

Making Modernism Soviet provides a new understanding of the ideological engagement of Russian modern artists such as Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko, and Vera Ermolaeva with the political and social agenda of the Bolsheviks in the chaotic years immediately following the Russian Revolution. Focusing on the relationship between power brokers and cultural institutions under conditions of state patronage, Pamela Kachurin lays to rest the myth of the imposition of control from above upon a victimized artistic community. Drawing on extensive archival research, she shows that Russian modernists used their positions within the expanding Soviet arts bureaucracy to build up networks of like-minded colleagues. Their commitment to one another and to the task of creating a socially transformative visual language for the new Soviet context allowed them to produce some of their most famous works of art. But it also contributed to the "Sovietization" of the art world that eventually sealed their fate.

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