By Fables Alone: Literature and State Ideology in Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Russia

By Fables Alone: Literature and State Ideology in Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Russia

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Andrei Zorin
Translated by Marcus C. Levitt

Series: Ars Rossica
ISBN: 9781618113467 (hardcover), 9781618118035 (paperback)
Pages: 408 pp.
Publication Date: June 2014

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Academic Studies Press is proud to present this translation of Professor Andrei Zorin’s seminal Kormya Dvuglavogo Orla. This collection of essays includes several that have never before appeared in English, including “The People’s War: The Time of Troubles in Russian Literature, 1806–1807” and “Holy Alliances: V. A. Zhukovskii’s Epistle ‘To Emperor Alexander’ and Christian Universalism.”

Andrei Zorin  is a cultural and literary historian. Before taking a chair of Russian at Oxford (2004), he was a professor at the Russian State University for Humanities, Moscow and a visiting professor in many American universities, including Harvard (1999, 2003), Stanford (1995, 2000), NYU (2001), and the University of Michigan (1999). Zorin is a member of several leading academic magazine boards, including the Slavic Review (USA), Cahiers du Monde Russes (France), and the New Literary Review (NLO) (Russia). He has published more than 150 articles in Russian, English, French, German and Italian. He is also the editor of Lydia Ginzburg’s Prokhodiashchie kharaktery (Moscow, 2011; with E. van Buskirk). By Fables Alone is a translation of his monograph, Kormia dvuglavogo orla…, published in Russian in 2001.

Marcus C.  Levitt  (PhD Columbia University) is a 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 (1989), Early Modern Russian Letters: Texts and Contexts. Selected Essays (2009), and The Visual Dominant in Eighteenth-Century Russia (2011). Among his many translations from Russian are the works by Viktor Zhivov and Boris Uspenskij.


The work—a collection of Zorin’s writing about the intersection of state ideology and literature in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Russia—was hailed as a crucial text in Russian literary and historical studies upon its initial publication in 2001. Since then it has become required reading for students of Imperial Russian history and culture. . . .The careful translations ably preserve the nuances of the original Russian—no small feat, and one that speaks volumes about its translators. This English edition will bring Zorin’s work to a broader audience, enabling more researchers and students to engage with his seminal discussion of the Russian state’s ideological models and their transformation into cultural symbols during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
— Katherine Bowers, University of British Columbia, Modern Language Review, Volume 111, Part 2 (April 2016)
. . . Zorin commands a broad range of literary and historical literature and his essays give depth to the selected themes concerning the reigns of Catherine II and Alexander I. . . . [T]he difficult translation is generally skillful and it makes available for Anglophones a more profound examination of historical events discussed.
— Carrol F. Coates, Independent Scholar, Slavic and East European Journal, 59.2 (Summer 2015)
Rendering Zorin’s unique style and rhetorical ethos in English is a tall order, but Levitt’s and Monnier’s translations almost always get it right, and their rendition of Zorin is spot on. . . . This is an excellent and sorely needed translation of an important book. Though it has long since become part of the scholarly discourse in Russian literary and cultural history, Zorin’s book could and should have a role in other disciplines as well. Levitt is to be commended for opening a window for it to the wider world. This book will be greeted with particular enthusiasm by faculty who teach Russian literary and cultural history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to undergraduates or novice graduate students whose Russian is not yet sufficient to enjoy Zorin in the original.
— Joe Peschio, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, The Russian Review (Vol. 74, No. 3)
By Fables Alone is a welcome English version of Andrei Zorin’s 2001 groundbreaking volume containing a number of expert and imaginative examinations of ideological models produced during Catherine II’s, Alexander I’s, and Nicholas I’s reigns. Zorin, a leading scholar of Russian literature and culture of the period, begins, in Chapters One to Four, with the incisive discussion of the so-called Greek Project masterminded by Catherine the Great; moves, in Chapters Five to Nine, to the analyses of several politically significant cultural developments in Alexander’s time; and ends, in Chapter Nine, with a brilliant examination of the central ideological formula of Nicholas I’s reign, “Orthodoxy—Autocracy—Nationality,” conceived and articulated by Sergei Uvarov. Equally at home with literature, culture, and politics of the time, Russian as well as Western, Zorin moves effortlessly between these fields to explain the formation of Russian cultural myths, some of which are relevant even today. Expertly translated by Marcus C. Levitt, the book is a fascinating read for any scholar interested in the process of formation of cultural symbols serving ideological purposes.
— Irina Reyfman, Columbia University
Informed by archival discoveries, by a daunting range of scholarship, and by the author’s mastery of more than one European literary canon, By Fables Alone is a brilliant interdisciplinary study. Focusing on the hidden ideological agenda of Russian foreign policy, Zorin triumphantly demonstrates the importance of literature in Russian political culture, highlighting both the literary foundations of politics and the political subtext of literature.
— Simon Dixon, University College London

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
From the Author / Acknowledgements

Introduction: Literature and Ideology Translated by Nicole Monnier

1. Russians as Greeks: Catherine II’s “Greek Project” and the Russian Ode of the 1760s–70s
2. The Image of the Enemy: V. P. Petrov’s “Ode on the Conclusion of Peace with the Ottoman Porte” and the Emergence of the Mythology of a Global Conspiracy against Russia
3. Eden in Taurus: The “Crimean Myth” in Russian Culture of the 1780s–90s
4. Eden in the Tauride Palace: Potemkin’s Last Project
5. The People’s War: The Time of Troubles in Russian Literature, 1806–1807
6. Enemy of the People: M. M. Speranskii’s Fall and the Mythology of Treason in Social and Literary Consciousness, 1809–1812
7. War and Quasi Peace: The Character and Goal of the War in 1812–1814 in the Interpretation of A. S. Shishkov and Archimandrite Filaret
8. Holy Alliances: V. A. Zhukovskii’s Epistle “To Emperor Alexander” and Christian Universalism
9. “Star of the East”: The Holy Alliance and European Mysticism Translation by Daniel Schlaffy
10. The Cherished Triad: S. S. Uvarov’s Memorandum of 1832 and the Development of the Doctrine “Orthodoxy—Autocracy Nationality” 

Works Cited