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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.

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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.

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A Karenina Companion

Although Anna Karenina has been described as “the European novel” by Frank Leavis, the geographical setting of the novel and, increasingly, its temporal and cultural setting, render it a foreign novel to most readers. A Karenina Companion offers a wealth of information, including a great deal that has previously not been available in English, for the scholarly and literary appreciation of this great novel.

Chapter 1 is a biographical introduction and Chapter 2 an examination of the way in which the novel was composed. In Chapter 3 the author brings together Tolstoi’s own substantial comments on his work. Chapter 4 adduces the main differences between the latest edition of the text and what has been the standard edition for over 50 years. Chapter 5 outlines what Tolstoi was reading as he was writing the novel. The final chapter provides a survey of significant secondary literature, with English-language works listed in appendices.

A Karenina Companion will facilitate both the reading and understanding of the novel by English speakers and the writing of informed and reliable critical appreciations.

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The Kingdom of Insignificance

Miron Bialoszewski and the Quotidian, the Queer, and the Traumatic

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.

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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

Vladimir Golstein

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.

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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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The Look of Russian Literature

Avant-Garde Visual Experiments, 1900-1930

Gerald Janecek

Gerald Janecek describes the experiments in visual, literature conducted from 1900 to 1930, the heyday of the Russian Avant Garde. Focusing on an aspect of Russian literary history that has previously been almost ignored, he shows how Russian writers of this period tried unusual methods to make their texts visually interesting or expressive. The book includes 183 illustrations, most from rare publications and many reproduced for the first time. The author discusses such figures as the Symbolist Andrey Bely, the Futurists Aleksey Kruchonykh, Vasili Kamensky, and Vladimir Mayakovsky, and the post-Futurist Ilya Zdanevich, and their use of devices ranging from unorthodox layouts and florid typography to roughly done lithographed or handmade books.

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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Lost in the Shadow of the Word

Space, Time, and Freedom in Interwar Eastern Europe

Benjamin Paloff

Scholars of modernism have long addressed how literature, painting, and music reflected the radical reconceptualization of space and time in the early twentieth century—a veritable revolution in both physics and philosophy that has been characterized as precipitating an “epistemic trauma” around the world. In this wide-ranging study, Benjamin Paloff contends that writers in Central and Eastern Europe felt this impact quite distinctly from their counterparts in Western Europe. For the latter, the destabilization of traditional notions of space and time inspired works that saw in it a new kind of freedom. However, for many Central and Eastern European authors, who were writing from within public discourses about how to construct new social realities, the need for escape met the realization that there was both nowhere to escape to and no stable delineation of what to escape from. In reading the prose and poetry of Czech, Polish, and Russian writers, Paloff imbues the term “Kafkaesque” with a complexity so far missing from our understanding of this moment in literary history.

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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."

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