Poetry and Psychiatry: Essays on Early Twentieth-Century Russian Symbolist Culture

Poetry and Psychiatry: Essays on Early Twentieth-Century Russian Symbolist Culture

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Magnus Ljunggren
Translated by Charles Rougle

Series: Studies in Russian and Slavic Literatures, Cultures and History
ISBN: 9781618113504 (hardcover) / 9781618113696 (paper)
Pages: 156 pp.
Publication Date: November 2014

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A century ago the Symbolists in Moscow and St. Petersburg dreamed of a fundamental transformation of life in Russia. From their reading of signs in the heavens, these poets, philosophers, and mystics sensed that tsardom was on the threshold of an apocalyptic upheaval. They were influenced by Vladimir Solovyov and Friedrich Nietzsche, but under the impact of the 1905 Revolution they later also subscribed to current radical political ideas. The eventual collision between these dreams and tsarist reality generated enormous intellectual turbulence and the need for substitutes. Not least psychoanalysis came to the rescue of these stranded dreamers. The present collection of essays is intended for readers interested in Russian literature or the early history of Eastern European offshoots of psychoanalysis.

Magnus Ljunggren defended his doctoral thesis The Dream of Rebirth. A Study of Andrej Belyj’s novel ‘Peterburg’ at Stockholm University in 1982. He is presently Professor Emeritus of Russian Language and Literature at the University of Gothenburg. His most important monograph is The Russian Mephisto (1994).

. . . Poetry and Psychiatry will certainly provide fruit for future research, and it may also serve as a good introduction to Russian Symbolism for scholars working on the history of psychoanalysis.
— Jason Strudler, Vanderbilt University, The Russian Review (January 2016, Vol. 75, No. 1)
Ljunggren sensitively captures the intellectual Zeitgeist of early twentieth-century Russia and inspires us to familiarize ourselves with the works of the Symbolists.
— Julie Hansen , Respons
Ljunggren provides an ample picture of the major Russian Symbolists and the boundary-transcendent culture within which they wrote. Strokes of intellectual history alternate with well-drawn portraits to provide a clear sense of the spirit of the age.
— Gert-Ove Fridlund , Signum
Ljunggren’s book is indispensable reading for anyone wishing to become familiar with the context in which Andrej Bely’s writing was born.
— Karin Grelz , Axess

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Andrey Bely and the Philosopher’s Nephew
Bely and Aleksandr Blok
The Symbolist with Two Careers
Symbolism’s Charlatan
Oracle or Quack? 
Janko Lavrin—Pan-Slavist across the Spectrum
The “Swede” in the Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Russian Culture—and His Daughter
Blok and Strindberg’s Face
The Early Breakthrough of Psychoanalysis in Russia
Anthroposophy’s Decade in Russia
Bely’s Encounter with Rudolf Steiner
Freud’s Unknown Russian Patient
Emilii Medtner and Carl Gustav Jung
Boris Pasternak and Goethe
Marietta Shaginyan and Verner von Heidenstam

Index of Names