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From the moment of Lev Trotsky’s sensational and unannounced arrival in Oslo harbor in June 1935 he became the center of controversy. Although it was to be the shortest of his four exiles, this period of his life was a significant one. In Norway he increased his effort to create a Fourth International, encouraging his international followers to challenge Stalin’s dominance over world communism. He also wrote his last major book, The Revolution Betrayed, in which he presented himself as the true heir to the Bolshevik Revolution. At the Moscow show trial of August 1936 Trotsky was accused of being an international terrorist. Wishing to maintain good relations with its powerful neighbor, the Norwegian cabinet placed him under house arrest. Internment followed. He became the subject of political dispute, and in the national election that October, the issue threatened the very existence of Norway’s first permanent socialist administration. After the election, the Labor government was determined to expel him, and Mexico proved willing to offer a final refuge. Trotsky in Norway presents an enlightening account—the first complete study in English—of Trotsky’s asylum in Norway and his deportation to Mexico. In the numerous biographies of Trotsky, coverage of his Norwegian sojourn has been inadequate and in some cases erroneous. A revised and updated edition of Høidal’s highly regarded Norwegian work, this book incorporates information that has since become available. In lucid prose, Høidal presents new biographical details about a significant period in Trotsky’s life and sheds light on an important chapter in the history of international socialism and communism.
The Enlightenment privileged vision as the principle means of understanding the world, but the eighteenth-century Russian preoccupation with sight was not merely a Western import. In his masterful study, Levitt shows the visual to have had deep indigenous roots in Russian Orthodox culture and theology, arguing that the visual played a crucial role in the formation of early modern Russian culture and identity. Levitt traces the early modern Russian quest for visibility from jubilant self-discovery, to serious reflexivity, to anxiety and crisis. The book examines verbal constructs of sight—in poetry, drama, philosophy, theology, essay, memoir—that provide evidence for understanding the special character of vision of the epoch. Levitt’s groundbreaking work represents both a new reading of various central and lesser known texts and a broader revisualization of Russian eighteenth-century culture. Works that have considered the intersections of Russian literature and the visual in recent years have dealt almost exclusively with the modern period or with icons. The Visual Dominant in Eighteenth-Century Russia is an important addition to the scholarship and will be of major interest to scholars and students of Russian literature, culture, and religion, and specialists on the Enlightenment.
Balladeer of the city’s broken and forgotten men, Joseph G. Peterson looks for inspiration in urban side streets and alleys, where crooked schemes are hatched, where lives end violently, and where pretty much everyone is up to no good. Depicting the lives of people who have woefully lost their way in the world—criminals and victims, the unemployed and unemployable, the neglected and the indigent, the lonely and the alone—Peterson nonetheless brings a poet’s touch to his work, which is redolent with allegory, allusion, and Nabokovian wordplay. His last novel, Beautiful Piece, garnered praise from across the literary spectrum. Enter Wanted: Elevator Man, his powerful and ambitious new novel and the story of Eliot Barnes Jr., a man at the end of his proverbial rope.
America and Americans in Russian Literary Perception
In Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s What Is to Be Done?, one of the protagonists feigns suicide and goes to America. In Fedor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Svidrigailov, announces: “I’m going to America,” then commits suicide. When in America—“on the other shore,” as Russians sometimes put it—Russian émigré characters and writers often feel that, although they have now acquired a new life, this life approximates a posthumous experience. Although the country across the ocean had already begun to acquire concrete historical features in the Russian mind by the last quarter of the eighteenth century, connotations of the Other World, the land on the other side of earthly existence, still lurk in the background of literary texts about the New World. This mythological perception of the New World is not exclusively Russian, but in Russia the mythological concept gained a specificity and a concrete form that persisted through many eras and appeared in the works of very different authors.
France and the Legacy of the Great War
The Great War that engulfed Europe between 1914 and 1918 was a catastrophe for France. French soil was the site of most of the fighting on the Western Front. French dead were more than 1.3 million, the permanently disabled another 1.1 million, overwhelmingly men in their twenties and thirties. The decade and a half before the war had been years of plenty, a time of increasing prosperity and confidence remembered as the Belle Epoque or the good old days. The two decades that followed its end were years of want, loss, misery, and fear. In 1914, France went to war convinced of victory. In 1939, France went to war dreading defeat.