By Caryl Emerson
Russian literature arrived past due at the eu scene. inside of numerous generations, its nice novelists had stunned - after which conquered - the area. during this creation to the wealthy and colourful Russian culture, Caryl Emerson weaves a story of habitual issues and fascinations throughout numerous centuries. starting with conventional Russian narratives (saints' lives, folks stories, epic and rogue narratives), the e-book strikes via literary historical past chronologically and thematically, juxtaposing literary texts from every one significant interval. precise cognizance is given to canonical writers together with Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Bulgakov and Solzhenitsyn, in addition to to a couple present bestsellers from the post-Communist interval. absolutely available to scholars and readers without wisdom of Russian, the amount contains a word list and pronunciation advisor of key Russian phrases in addition to a listing of worthwhile secondary works. The publication could be of serious curiosity to scholars of Russian in addition to of comparative literature.
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Extra resources for The Cambridge Introduction to Russian Literature (Cambridge Introductions to Literature)
Tolstoy awards to his beloved Princess Marya a third type of female face: an ugliness so severe that men turn away in embarrassment and she herself despairs before the mirror. But again and again Marya’s radiant eyes, the eyes of the Mother of God on a holy icon, have the capacity to transform her plainness – never to make it formally beautiful, which in Tolstoy is never a virtue, but to express love toward others, forgiveness, compassion, and access to a higher spiritual sphere. When, during Prince Andrei’s final days and death, Natasha and Marya at last overcome their mutual antipathy, their two positive variants of a receptive human face (immediate joy and contemplative depth) supplement one another in a passionate friendship.
To “lay bare” an old device was one of the tasks of parody. In a 1921 essay on Dostoevsky and Gogol, “Toward a Theory of Parody,” Tynyanov insisted that parody is not the same as satire, travesty, farce or burlesque. All those forms involve a struggle against outdated behaviors and forms, to be sure. At some level all strive to make us laugh. But parody need not imply any mean-spirited disrespect. Within the tightly laced spiral of the Russian tradition, the old was understood as essential to appreciating the new.
For some periods, the benchmark writers anchoring the edges of literary space are so different from each other that each begins his own literary tradition. This is the case with the Romantic era, where the “Pushkin” and “Gogol” lines are antipathetic. But in other periods, a great writer will combine elements of both poles in a conscious quest for new and healthier hybrids. Under such conditions, one can speak almost of a “dialectical” development of characters and themes. The task of the mediating author is to challenge the oversimplification that is endemic to binary thinking and thus to re-complicate the field.
The Cambridge Introduction to Russian Literature (Cambridge Introductions to Literature) by Caryl Emerson