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Literature > Russian and East European Literature

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The First Epoch

The Eighteenth Century and the Russian Cultural Imagination

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Form and Instability

Eastern Europe, Literature, Postimperial Difference

Anita Starosta

How are we to read the world after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Form and Instability brings notions of figuration and translation to bear on the post-1989 condition. "Eastern Europe" in this book is more than a territory. Marked by belatedness and untimely remainders, it is an unstable object that is continually misapprehended. From the intersection of comparative literature, area studies, and literary theory, Anita Starosta considers the epistemological and aesthetic consequences of the disappearance of the Second World. Literature here becomes a critical lens in its own right—both object and method, it confronts us with the rhetorical dimension of language and undermines the ideological and hermeneutic coherence of established categories. In original readings of Joseph Conrad and Witold Gombrowicz, among other twentieth-century writers, Form and Instability unsettles cultural boundaries as we know them.

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From the Shadow of Empire

Defining the Russian Nation through Cultural Mythology, 1855–1870

Olga Maiorova

As nationalism spread across nineteenth-century Europe, Russia’s national identity remained murky: there was no clear distinction between the Russian nation and the expanding multiethnic empire that called itself “Russian.” When Tsar Alexander II’s Great Reforms (1855–1870s) allowed some freedom for public debate, Russian nationalist intellectuals embarked on a major project—which they undertook in daily press, popular historiography, and works of fiction—of finding the Russian nation within the empire and rendering the empire in nationalistic terms.
    From the Shadow of Empire traces how these nationalist writers refashioned key historical myths—the legend of the nation’s spiritual birth, the tale of the founding of Russia, stories of Cossack independence—to portray the Russian people as the ruling nationality, whose character would define the empire. In an effort to press the government to alter its traditional imperial policies, writers from across the political spectrum made the cult of military victories into the dominant form of national myth-making: in the absence of popular political participation, wars allowed for the people’s involvement in public affairs and conjured an image of unity between ruler and nation. With their increasing reliance on the war metaphor, Reform-era thinkers prepared the ground for the brutal Russification policies of the late nineteenth century and contributed to the aggressive character of twentieth-century Russian nationalism.

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The Gift of Active Empathy

Scheler, Bakhtin, and Dostoevsky

This innovative study brings the early writings of Mikhail Bakhtin into conversation with Max Scheler and Fyodor Dostoevsky to explore the question of what makes emotional co-experiencing ethically and spiritually productive. In Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, Bakhtin's well-known concept of the dialogical partner expresses what he sees as the potential of human relationships in Dostoevsky's work. But his earlier reflections on the ethical and aesthetic uses of empathy, in part inspired by Scheler's philosophy, suggest a still more fundamental form of communication that operates as a basis for human togetherness in Dostoevsky. Applying this rich and previously neglected theoretical apparatus in a literary analysis, Wyman examines the obstacles to active empathy in Dostoevsky's fictional world, considers the limitations and excesses of empathy, addresses the problem of frustrated love in The Idiot and Notes from Underground, and provides a fresh interpretation of two of Dostoevsky's most iconic characters, Prince Myshkin and Alyosha Karamazov.

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Gogol's Afterlife

The Evolution of a Classic in Imperial and Soviet Russia

Caryl Emerson

Gogol's claim to the title of national literary classic is incontestable. An exemplar of popular audiences no less than for the intelligentsia, Gogol was pressed into service under the tsarist and Soviet regimes for causes both aesthetic and political, official and unofficial. In Gogol's Afterlife, Stephen Moeller Sally explores how he achieved this peculiar brand of cultural authority and later maintained it, despite dramatic shifts in the organization of Russian literature and society.

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Gogol's "Dead Souls"

James B. Woodward

Alone of the great Russian novels of the nineteenth-century, Dead Souls has remained almost as profound a mystery to critics as it was when it first appeared. James Woodward disputes the traditional view of Gogol's work, contending that it is not a sprawling mass of loosely connected episodes, details, and digressions. His close reading of the text offers a new interpretation by tracing the essential features of Gogol's creative method.

Although Dead Souls is a subject of lively debate in almost every respect, no Western scholar has ever before made it the subject of book-length analysis. James Woodward's inquiry addresses itself to many fundamental questions: How is the theme developed? What characterizes the writer's creative method? Does the structure of the novel reveal an inner logic? How can the digressive narrative style be reconciled with generally accepted standards of artistic unity and coherence?

Originally published in 1978.

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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Gombrowicz, Polish Modernism, and the Subversion of Form

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as well as providing a commentary on his novels, plays, and short stories, this book sets Gombrowicz's writing in the context of contemporary cultural theory. The author performs a detailed examination of Gombrowicz's major literary and theatrical work, showing how his conception of form is highly resonant with contemporary, postmodern theories of identity.

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Grapevine and Rose

Muslim Oral Ballads from Bosnia-Hervegovina

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The Great War in Russian Memory

Karen Petrone

Karen Petrone shatters the notion that World War I was a forgotten war in the Soviet Union. Although never officially commemorated, the Great War was the subject of a lively discourse about religion, heroism, violence, and patriotism during the interwar period. Using memoirs, literature, films, military histories, and archival materials, Petrone reconstructs Soviet ideas regarding the motivations for fighting, the justification for killing, the nature of the enemy, and the qualities of a hero. She reveals how some of these ideas undermined Soviet notions of military honor and patriotism while others reinforced them. As the political culture changed and war with Germany loomed during the Stalinist 1930s, internationalist voices were silenced and a nationalist view of Russian military heroism and patriotism prevailed.

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Gustav Shpet's Contribution to Philosophy and Cutlural Theory

Edited by Galin Tihanov

This book offers original research by leading scholars from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Russia, which covers the central areas of Shpet's work on phenomenology, philosophy of language, cultural theory, and aesthetics and takes forward the current state of knowledge and debates on his contribution to these fields of enquiry.

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