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Nomadism and National Identity in Russian Literature
The metaphor of the nomad may at first seem surprising for Russia given its history of serfdom, travel restrictions, and strict social hierarchy. But as the imperial center struggled to tame a vast territory with ever-expanding borders, ideas of mobility, motion, travel, wandering, and homelessness came to constitute important elements in the discourse about national identity. For Russians of the nineteenth century, national identity was anything but stable.
Readings for the Twenty-First Century
During the Soviet years, Fyodor Dostoevsky was the most troublesome of the nineteenth-century Russian novelists. Religious, opinionated, conservative, and chauvinistic, his work challenged the atheistic and communist foundation of the Soviet state. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Dostoevsky rapidly became the most popular Russian classic. Taking advantage of the freedoms that came with glasnost, Russian scholars have produced a wealth of new studies exploring previously neglected aspects of the writer's life and work. "The New Russian Dostoevsky: Readings for the Twenty-First Century" presents a broad range of works by Russia's finest Dostoevsky scholars, appearing here in English translation for the first time. The collection offers general studies, including essays on the latest trends in Dostoevsky scholarship, on the 150-year history of anti-Dostoevsky sentiment in Russia, on the use of new technologies to study manuscripts and print materials, and on Dostoevsky's religion and philosophy, as well as close readings and annotations of the classic novels "Crime and Punishment," "The Idiot," "Demons," and "The Brothers Karamazov." These essays combine the meticulous scholarship and authority that have always characterized the work of Russian scholars with a bracing originality and a new respect for the religious and cultural aspects of the writer's work that were neglected in the Soviet years. This book will appeal to anyone interested in Dostoevsky's work and eager to learn how he is read and studied in his homeland.
Edited by the nation's most respected senior Dostoevsky scholar, this collection brings together original work by notable writers of varying backgrounds and interests. While drawing on Dostoevsky's other fiction, journalism, and correspondence, the writing of his contemporaries, the state of Russian culture to illuminate the unfolding novel these essays also make use of new fields of scholarship, such as cognitive psychology, as well as recent theoretical approaches and critical insights. The authors propose readings remarkable for their attentiveness to detail, relatively peripheral characters, and heretofore overlooked incidents, passages, or fragments of dialogue. Some contributors suggest readings so new that they are subvert our usual modes of approaching this novel; all reflect the immediacy of adventuresome, informed encounters with Dostoevsky's final novel. Treating The Brothers Karamazov in terms of a broad range of genres (poetry, narrative, parody, confession, detective fiction) and discourses (medical, scientific, sexual, judicial, philosophical, and theological), these essays embody on a critical and analytic level a search for coherence, meaning, and harmony that continues to animate Dostoevsky's novel in our day.
Time and Text, Place and Poet
Nikolai Klyuev: Time and Text, Place and Poet is the first book in English to examine this enigmatic poet's life and work. Klyuev (1884 1937) is an important but not well understood figure in twentieth century Russian poetry. The allusions in his work to folklore, mysticism, politics, and religion, in addition to occasionally arcane vocabulary and difficult syntax, require extensive elucidation. Klyuev rose to prominence in the early twentieth century as the first of the so called "new peasant poets" before being arrested and exiled in 1933, then shot in 1937: a victim of Stalinist hostility to both his cultural ideology and his homosexuality. Makin’s feat is particularly notable because Klyuev was often elusive in his own accounts of his life; a major element of this book is an effort to clarify the poet’s strategies of self mythologization. Nikolai Klyuev: Time and Text, Place and Poet is an insightful guide to both the life and the work of an important poet still relatively unknown to a Western audience.
Dostoevsky and the Problem of Genre in the 1870s
Scholars have long been fascinated by the creative struggles with genre manifested throughout Dostoevsky’s career. In The Novel in the Age of Disintegration, Kate Holland brings historical context to bear, showing that Dostoevsky wanted to use the form of the novel as a means of depicting disintegration brought on by various crises in Russian society in the 1860s. This required him to reinvent the genre. At the same time he sought to infuse his novels with the capacity to inspire belief in social and spiritual reintegration, so he returned to some older conventions of a society that was already becoming outmoded. In thoughtful readings of Demons, The Adolescent, A Writer’s Diary, and The Brothers Karamazov, Holland delineates Dostoevsky’s struggle to adapt a genre to the reality of the present, with all its upheavals, while maintaining a utopian vision of Russia’s future mission.
Post-Communist Cultures through an East-West Gaze
"... a hot subject in today's scholarship... and a groundbreaking project of vital significance to the field of cultural studies at both 'western' and 'eastern' geographical locations." -- Elwira Grossman
Over the Wall/After the Fall maps a new discourse on the evolution of cultural life in Eastern Europe following the end of communism. Departing from traditional binary views of East/West, the contributors to this volume consider the countries and the peoples of the region on their own terms. Drawing on insights from cultural studies, gender theory, and postcolonial studies, this lively collection addresses gender issues and sexual politics, consumerism, high and popular culture, architecture, media, art, and theater. Among the themes of the essays are the Western pop success of Bulgarian folk choirs, the Czechs' reception of Frank Gehry's unconventional building in the center of Prague, bohemians in Lviv, and cryptographic art installations from Bratislava.
Sex and Violence in Contemporary Russian Popular Culture
Perestroika and the end of the Soviet Union transformed every aspect of life in Russia, and as hope began to give way to pessimism, popular culture came to reflect the anxiety and despair felt by more and more Russians. Free from censorship for the first time in Russia's history, the popular culture industry (publishing, film, and television) began to disseminate works that featured increasingly explicit images and descriptions of sex and violence.
In Overkill, Eliot Borenstein explores this lurid and often-disturbing cultural landscape in close, imaginative readings of such works as You're Just a Slut, My Dear! (Ty prosto shliukha, dorogaia!), a novel about sexual slavery and illegal organ harvesting; the Nympho trilogy of books featuring a Chechen-fighting sex addict; and the Mad Dog and Antikiller series of books and films recounting, respectively, the exploits of the Russian Rambo and an assassin killing in the cause of justice. Borenstein argues that the popular cultural products consumed in the post-perestroika era were more than just diversions; they allowed Russians to indulge their despair over economic woes and everyday threats. At the same time, they built a notion of nationalism or heroism that could be maintained even under the most miserable of social conditions, when consumers felt most powerless.
For Borenstein, the myriad depictions of deviance in pornographic and also crime fiction, with their patently excessive and appalling details of social and moral decay, represented the popular culture industry's response to the otherwise unimaginable scale of Russia's national collapse. "The full sense of collapse," he writes, "required a panoptic view that only the media and culture industry were eager to provide, amalgamating national collapse into one master narrative that would then be readily available to most individuals as a framework for understanding their own suffering and their own fears."
Novel and City, 1900–1921
Since its founding three hundred years ago, the city of Saint Petersburg has captured the imaginations of the most celebrated Russian writers, whose characters map the city by navigating its streets from the aristocratic center to the gritty outskirts. While Tsar Peter the Great planned the streetscapes of Russia’s northern capital as a contrast to the muddy and crooked streets of Moscow, Andrei Bely’s novel Petersburg (1916), a cornerstone of Russian modernism and the culmination of the “Petersburg myth” in Russian culture, takes issue with the city’s premeditated and supposedly rational character in the early twentieth century.
“Petersburg”/Petersburg studies the book and the city against and through each other. It begins with new readings of the novel—as a detective story inspired by bomb-throwing terrorists, as a representation of the aversive emotion of disgust, and as a painterly avant-garde text—stressing the novel’s phantasmagoric and apocalyptic vision of the city. Taking a cue from Petersburg’s narrator, the rest of this volume (and the companion Web site, stpetersburg.berkeley.edu/) explores the city from vantage points that have not been considered before—from its streetcars and iconic art-nouveau office buildings to the slaughterhouse on the city fringes. From poetry and terrorist memoirs, photographs and artwork, maps and guidebooks of that period, the city emerges as a living organism, a dreamworld in flux, and a junction of modernity and modernism.