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A History of Russian Literature$
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Andrew Kahn, Mark Lipovetsky, Irina Reyfman, and Stephanie Sandler

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199663941

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199663941.001.0001

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The shape of the period

(p.523) Introduction
A History of Russian Literature

Andrew Kahn

Mark Lipovetsky

Irina Reyfman

Stephanie Sandler

Oxford University Press

Part V explores the relationship between the dramatic history of the twentieth century and the transformations of Russian literary culture and poetics, arguing that the story is one of unexpected continuities as much as rupture. The Part outlines the development of Russian modernism and the avant-garde in the Silver Age (1890s–1917), moving on to the avant-garde poetics and institutions reinvented in late Soviet (1960s–early 1980s), and treating underground and post-Soviet literature (since 1991), as well as the émigré literature of Russia Abroad. Émigré and Soviet literature are shown to follow some similar patterns and themes, just as official and underground literature alike explore ways to represent the century’s catastrophes, and to test the responsibilities of the intelligentsia. The desire to break with the past emerges as a theme, as does a struggle over forms of cultural continuity. Women writers play key roles across multiple time periods, locales, and aesthetic forms. Part V analyzes the workings of political and aesthetic censorship during the domination of Socialist Realism, and it explores poetry as a discourse of subjectivity. It includes attention to utopian/dystopian and national narratives, and ends with an account of the intelligentsia’s cultural and historical self-identification.

Keywords:   modernism, avant-garde, Socialist Realism, underground, émigré literature, utopia/dystopia, Silver Age, post-Soviet literature, Union of Soviet Writers, censorship, subjectivity

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