Exotic Moscow under Western Eyes

Exotic Moscow under Western Eyes


Irene Masing-Delic

Series: Cultural Revolutions: Russia in the Twentieth Century
ISBN: 9781934843406 (hardback)
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 (Ph.D. University of Stockholm) is a Professor at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Her publications include Abolishing Death (1992) and most recently an article "Purges and Patronage: Gor'kii's Promotion of Socialist Culture" appeared in Personality Cults in Stalinism.

Thoughtful and nuanced original analyses on a set of topics of persistent importance within the Russian literary tradition.
— Elizabeth Skomp, The University of the South, in Slavic and East European Review
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

Table of Contents


1: Dialogue
The Music of Ecstasy and the Picture of Harmony: Nietzsche's Dionysus and Apollo in Turgenev's "Song of Triumphant Love"
A Change of Gender Roles: The Pygmalion Motif in Jane Austen's Emma and Ivan Goncharov's Oblomov
Clairvoyant Mothers and Erring Sons: Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment and Conrad's Under Western Eyes
Rescuing Culture from Civilization: Gorky, Gogl, Sologub and the Mediterranean Model

2: Inner Divisions
The "Castrator" Rogozhin and the "Castrate" Smerdiakov: Incarnations of Dostoevsky's 'Devil-Bearing' People?
Who are the Tatars in Alexander Blok's The Homeland? The East in the Literary-Idealogical Discourse of Russian Symbolists
Gothic Historiosophy: The Pani Katerina Story in Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago

3: Saving the Heritage
Larissa -- Lolita, or Catharsis and Dolor, in the Artist-Novels Doktor Zhivago and Lolita
Survival of the Superfluous: Doubling and Mimicry in Nabokov's Podvig-Glory
Moscow in the Tropics: Exotica in Valerii Briusov's Early Urban Poetry