“Tsar and God” and Other Essays in Russian Cultural Semiotics

“Tsar and God” and Other Essays in Russian Cultural Semiotics

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Boris Uspenskij & Viktor Zhivov
Translated by Marcus C. Levitt

Series: Ars Rossica
ISBN: 9781936235490 (hardcover)
Pages: 282 pp.
Publication Date: December 2012

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Featuring a number of pioneering essays by the internationally known Russian cultural historians Boris Uspenskij and Victor Zhivov, this collection includes a number of essays appearing in English for the first time. Focusing on several of the most interesting and problematic aspects of Russia’s cultural development, these essays examine the survival and the reconceptualization of the past in later cultural systems and some of the key transformations of Russian cultural consciousness. The essays in this collection contain some important examples of Russian cultural semiotics and remain indispensable contributions to the history of Russian civilization.


Boris Uspenskij (PhD Moscow University) is a professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities and professor emeritus of the Oriental University of Naples (Istituto Universitario Orientale). His research in general linguistics defined his interest in semiotics with the special focus on the visual arts, especially the study of icon-painting. He has published numerous books and articles, including The Semiotics of Russian Culture (1984, with Yu. Lotman); The History of the Russian Literary Language (XI—XVII centuries) (1987, in Russian); Semiotik der Geschichte (1991); Storia della lingua letteraria russa (1993); Linguistica, semiotica, storia della cultura (1996); Semiotics of Art (1995, in Russian); Tsar and Patriarch (1998, in Russian); “In regem unxit ”: Unzione al trono e semantica dei titoli del sovrano (2001); Cross and Circle: From the History of the Christian Symbolism (2006, in Russian); Ego loquens: Language and Communicational Space (2007, in Russian); Prospettiva divina e prospettiva umana: La pala di van Eyck a Gand (2010).

Viktor  Zhivov (PhD Moscow University) was a professor at UC Berkeley and the Russian Language Institute of the Academy of Sciences, Moscow. His publications included Ocherki istoricheskoi morfologii russkogo iazyka XVII—XVIII veka (2004), Razyskaniia voblasti istorii i predystorii russkoi kul’tury (2002), and Jazyk I kul’tura v Rossii XVIII veka. Professor Zhivov passed away in April 2013.

Marcus C. Levitt  (PhD Columbia University, 1984) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Southern California. Dr. Levitt is known for both his work on eighteenth-century Russian culture and on Pushkin. Major publications include: Russian Literary Politics and the Pushkin Celebration of 1880 (Cornell University Press 1989), Early Modern Russian Writers, Late Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, (Volume 150) in the series The Dictionary of Literary Biography (1995; Editor and contributor) and Making Russia Visible: The Status of the Visual in Eighteenth-century Russian Literature (forthcoming).


For anyone concerned with or interested in the topic of cultural development in Russia, particularly during the monarchy, this book would be invaluable, providing as it does in-depth information on the developments and transformations in Russian history, culture, politics, customs and traditions. “Tsar and God” and Other Essays in Russian Cultural Semiotics is likely to become a primary reference source for future research in the study of the historical transformation of the Russian state and Russian society.
— Professor Ayse Dietrich, Middle East Technical University, in the International Journal of Russian Studies, Issue 6, 2/2013