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A major reexamination of the novelist Vladimir Nabokov as "literary gamesman," this book systematically shows that behind his ironic manipulation of narrative and his puzzle-like treatment of detail there lies an aesthetic rooted in his intuition of a transcendent realm and in his consequent redefinition of "nature" and "artifice" as synonyms. Beginning with Nabokov's discursive writings, Vladimir Alexandrov finds his world view centered on the experience of epiphany--characterized by a sudden fusion of varied sensory data and memories, a feeling of timelessness, and an intuition of immortality--which grants the true artist intimations of an "otherworld." Readings of The Defense, Invitation to a Beheading, The Gift, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, Lolita, and Pale Fire reveal the epiphanic experience to be a touchstone for the characters' metaphysical insightfulness, moral makeup, and aesthetic sensibility, and to be a structural model for how the narratives themselves are fashioned and for the nature of the reader's involvement with the text. In his conclusion, Alexandrov outlines several of Nabokov's possible intellectual and artistic debts to the brilliant and variegated culture that flourished in Russia on the eve of the Revolution. Nabokov emerges as less alienated from Russian culture than most of his emigre readers believed, and as less "modernist" than many of his Western readers still imagine. "Alexandrov's work is distinctive in that it applies an `otherworld' hypothesis as a consistent context to Nabokov's novels. The approach is obviously a fruitful one. Alexandrov is innovative in rooting Nabokov's ethics and aesthetics in the otherwordly and contributes greatly to Nabokov studies by examining certain key terms such as `commonsense,' `nature,' and `artifice.' In general Alexandrov's study leads to a much clearer understanding of Nabokov's metaphysics."--D. Barton Johnson, University of California, Santa Barbara
Originally published in 1991.
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.
Cold War Modernism and the Politics of Popular Culture
The Naked Communist argues that the political ideologies of modernity were fundamentally determined by four basic figures: the world, the enemy, the secret, and the catastrophe. While the "world" names the totality that functioned as the ultimate horizon of modern political imagination, the three other figures define the necessary limits of this totality by reflecting on the limits of representation. The book highlights the enduring presence of these figures in the modern imagination through detailed analysis of a concrete historical example: American anti-Communist politics of the 1950s. Its primary objective is to describe the internal mechanisms of what we could call an anti-Communist "aesthetic ideology." The book thus traces the way anti-Communist popular culture emerged in the discourse of Cold War liberalism as a political symptom of modernism. Based on a discursive analysis of American anti-Communist politics, the book presents parallel readings of modernism and popular fiction from the 1950s (nuclear holocaust novels, spy novels, and popular political novels) in order to show that, despite the radical separation of the two cultural fields, they both participated in a common ideological program.
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.
Glass, Vision, and Spectacle in Russian Culture
Julia Bekman Chadaga's ambitious study posits that glass--in its uses as a material and as captured in culture--is a key to understanding the evolution of Russian identity from the eighteenth century onward. From the contemporary perspective, it is easy to overlook how glass has profoundly transformed vision. Chadaga shows the far-reaching effects of this phenomenon. Her book examines the similarities between glass and language, the ideological uses of glass, and the material's associations with modernity, while illuminating the work of Lomonosov, Dostoevsky, Zamyatin, and Eisenstein, among others. In particular, Chadaga explores the prominent role of glass in the discourse around Russia's contentious relationship with the West--by turns admiring and antagonistic--as the nation crafted a vision for its own future. Chadaga returns throughout to the spectacular aspect of glass and shows how both the tendentious capacity and the playfulness of this material have shaped Russian culture.
If modernism marked, as some critics claim, an "apocalypse of cultural community," then Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938) must rank among its most representative figures. Born to Central European Jews in Warsaw on the cusp of the modern age, he could claim neither Russian nor European traditions as his birthright. Describing the poetic movement he helped to found, Acmeism, as a "yearning for world culture," he defined the impulse that charges his own poetry and prose. Clare Cavanagh has written a sustained study placing Mandelstam’s "remembrance and invention" of a usable poetic past in the context of modernist writing in general, with particular attention to the work of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.
Cavanagh traces Mandelstam’s creation of tradition from his earliest lyrics to his last verses, written shortly before his arrest and subsequent death in a Stalinist camp. Her work shows how the poet, generalizing from his own dilemmas and disruptions, addressed his epoch’s paradoxical legacy of disinheritance--and how he responded to this unwelcome legacy with one of modernism’s most complex, ambitious, and challenging visions of tradition. Drawing on not only Russian and Western modernist writing and theory, but also modern European Jewish culture, Russian religious thought, postrevolutionary politics, and even silent film, Cavanagh traces Mandelstam’s recovery of a "world culture" vital, vast, and varied enough to satisfy the desires of the quintessential outcast modernist.