Exotic Moscow Under Western Eyes

Exotic Moscow Under Western Eyes


Irene Masing-Delic

Series: Cultural Revolutions: Russia in the Twentieth Century
ISBN: 9781934843406 (hardcover) 
Pages: 264 pp.
Publication Date: March 2009

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This collection of essays on Turgenev, Goncharov, Conrad, Dostoevsky, Blok, Briusov, Gor’kii, Pasternak and Nabokov represents diverse voices but is also unified. One invariant is the recurring distinction between “culture” and “civilization” and the vision of Russia as the bearer of culture because it is “barbaric.” Another stance advocates the synthesis of “sense and sensibility” and the vision of “Apollo” and “Dionysus” creating a “civilized culture” together. Those voices that delight in the artificiality of civilization are complemented by those apprehensive of the dangers inherent in barbarism. This collection thus adds new perspectives to the much-debated opposition of vital Russia and a declining West, offering novel interpretations of classics from Oblomov to Lolita and The Idiot to Doctor Zhivago.

Irene Masing-Delic took her degrees at the Universities of Uppsala and Stockholm. Her career has included appointments at the Australian National University, the University of the Witwatersrand, Friedrich-Alexander University at Erlangen-Nuremberg, and University of California at Berkeley. She is currently professor at  Ohio State University in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Literatures. She has published Abolishing Death: A Twentieth-Century Salvation Myth and numerous articles on modernist and early Soviet writers.

Masing-Delic has brought to her readings and intertextual analyses an impressive knowledge of Russian literature and its cultural contexts, thereby opening up new perspectives. Her interpretations are grounded in the texts in such a way that the large historiosophic themes emerge naturally from her discussions rather than being theoretically imposed on them. She has admirably succeeded in combining literary interpretation with cultural history in mutually illuminating ways. Her boldly conceived and thoughtful study will be essential reading for specialists and will appeal to those interested in intertextuality, Russian literature, and cultural history.
— Diane Oenning Thompson, University of Cambridge, in Slavic Review