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REVIEWS coupling ofNietzsche and Freud forms an axiomatic subtext from which the book draws its best insights into the idiosyncratic history ofRussian modernism. The modernist inclination toward questions oftemporality and historical legacy turns out to have a specifically Russian character, namely an antagonism to the legacy ofPeter the Great. As the one who opened Russia to the West, along with its historicity, Peter figures as a nonbiodegradable remainder ofRussian history. He is a petroglyph, whose very name acts as one ofthose Nietzschean stones that rumble in the stomach like so much undigested history. Peter is the pater of modern Russian history, and as the father figure of time haunts every attempt to theorize Russia's literary history. The actuality ofthis haunting is borne out by the many literary examples that Kujundzic invokes, illustrating Tom Conley's point in the preface to Michel de Certeau's 7Ae Writing ofHistory: "the labor ofwriting is ongoing, perpetually dividing and suturing the past and present" (New York: Columbia UP, 1988, ix). Since the Formalist texts which theorize Russian literary history also enact an obsession with this essential untimeliness, the author demonstrates how theory can become the baroque allegory ofits own literary object. At its strongest the Formalist program therefore appears as an attempt to "work through," in the Freudian sense, the very ground ofliterary history that it takes as its object. Kujundzic places the study of Russian literary and intellectual history in the mainstream ofcontemporary criticism, showing their roots in a preoccupation with postmodern topics. The book proposes that a link between Russian modernism and postmodern theories can be recovered via Nietzsche, suggesting that it is with his notion ofthe "non-contemporary" that Russian literary modernity is to be thought. Perhaps its most compelling argument is that Nietzsche and postmodern theories should not simply be applied to Russian modernity. Rather, modernism's attempts to come to terms with notions of"the literary" and "history" already betray a major preoccupation with temporality. One consequence ofKujundzic's analysis would be that Formalism can no longer be read simply according to its "estrangement" from post-structuralist topics, but must be read in its uncanny proximity to them. Kujundzic has effectively rewritten Russian modernity, putting back into it an original reception ofNietzsche that had become effaced. With this material in hand, he goes on to explain Russian modernism's specific obsession with issues oftemporality . The import of the book for comparatists may lie less in its convincing uncovering ofa Nietzschean influence on Russian modernism, thereby confirming a common intellectual inheritance for both Russia and the West, than in its original approach to the practice of writing literary history. Deftly unfolding textual evidence that it then intertwines with subtle theoretical argumentation, this book offers returns that are perhaps quite different from our initial expectations for a study of Russian literature. Peter WoodruffUniversity ofSouthern California HERBERT S. LINDENBERGER. Opera in History: From Monteverdi to Cage. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998. xiv + 364 pp. In his playful "Prelude," Herbert Lindenberger takes the reader on a tour ofa typical opera shop, penetrating the remote comer where coffee-table opera books are on display, and then comments wryly on the lack ofserious books on opera. The VcH. 23 (1999): 184 ??? COHPAnATIST number ofsuch books is indeed relatively small and ofrecent vintage, starting with Joseph Kerman's trailblazing Opera as Drama (1956), and moving on to works by Catherine Clément (1979), Lindenberger himself (1985), Paul Robinson (1985), Arthur Groos and Roger Parker (1988), Michel Poizat (1992), and most recently by Linda and Michael Hutcheon (1996). This book is a worthy addition to the list. The title of Lindenberger's present study reverses the nouns in the chapter "The History in Opera" from his earlier monograph The History in Literature (1990), suggesting not an opposition but rather related aspects ofa common quest, namely (to quote Lindenberger ) to "search for new ways of thinking about the relation of history to aesthetic phenomena" (4). The first chapter, "Monteverdi, Caravaggio, Donne: Modernity and Early Baroque," will be familiar to SCLA members who attended the 1995 conference in Richmond, where it was the plenary talk. It compares the historic fortunes of the composer widely regarded as the founder ofopera...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0887
Print ISSN
0195-7678
Pages
pp. 184-186
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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