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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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Catastrophic narratives

Catastrophic narratives

(p.709) 5 Catastrophic narratives
A History of Russian Literature

Andrew Kahn

Mark Lipovetsky

Irina Reyfman

Stephanie Sandler

Oxford University Press

The chapter considers how, beginning with the Revolution and continuing across the centry, new narrative forms in prose and poetry fashion a discourse of national destiny. As narratives conceptualize historical change and convey the meanings of catastrophe, they develop new plotlines, metaphoric systems and mythological visions. The chapter argues that Russian literature on the Great Terror, collectivization, and Gulag achieves a focus on historical and personal trauma comparable to Holocaust literature. Soviet narratives of World War II also form an important trend from the 1940s through twenty-first century, serving simultaneously as the source of social criticism and the sustained attempt to redefine national identity.

Keywords:   catastrophe, Revolution, Civil War, World War II in literature, national narratives, Great Terror, Gulag, collectivization, violence, Isaac Babel

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