Russian Writers in Search of Wisdom, 1963–2013
The theme of foolishness has long occupied an unusually prominent place in Russian culture, touching on key questions of national, spiritual, and intellectual identity. In literature, the figure of the fool – and the voice of the fool – has carried additional appeal as an enduring source of comic and stylistic innovation. Never has this appeal been stronger than in the past half-century, whether as a reaction to the «scientific atheism» and official culture of the late-socialist era, or as a response to the intellectual and moral disorientation that accompanied the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Persisting in Folly traces three contrasting phases within this period: the «praise of folly» that underpins acknowledged samizdat masterpieces by Venedikt Erofeev, Yuz Aleshkovsky, and Sasha Sokolov; the sceptical appraisals of the Russian cult of the fool offered in the 1980s by Viktor Erofeev and Dmitry Galkovsky; and the legacy of this conflicted tradition in post-Soviet prose. By combining close readings with a rich comparative and contextual framework, this book charts a new path through recent Russian literature and offers a wide-ranging consideration of the causes and consequences of Russian writers’ enduring quest for wisdom through folly.
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- Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2017. X, 408 pp.
- About the author(s)/editor(s)
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Note on Conventions
- The Scope of this Study
- Folly’s longue durée in Russian Culture and Literature
- Holy foolery
- Pre-revolutionary literature
- The early Soviet era
- The Late Soviet Cultural and Literary Context
- Prelude: Fools in Search of an Author (Voinovich’s Chonkin, Shukshin’s chudiki)
- Part I: In Praise of Folly
- Chapter 1: From the Underground Man to Dame Folly: The Erasmian irony of Moscow-Petushki
- Notes of a Psychopath
- The Erasmian Tradition
- The Basis of the Comparison in Genre, Form, and Rhetoric
- Foolish Women and Androgynous Folly
- The Drinking Party and the ‘Transvaluation of Values’
- The Shared Philosophical Sources of Praise of Folly and Moscow-Petushki
- Chapter 2: Not to Reason Why: Life against mind in the fiction of Yuz Aleshkovsky (Nikolai Nikolaevich, The Hand)
- Nikolai Nikolaevich (1970)
- The Hand (1977–1978)
- A ‘Hangman’s Narrative’
- Hangman as Holy Fool
- The ‘Vicious Circle of Reason’
- The Re-evaluation of Values
- Chapter 3: Wisdom and Stasis in School for Fools
- Part II: Appraisals of Folly
- Chapter 4: ‘The Idiot is You’: Viktor Erofeev’s assault on the cult of folly
- The plot
- The second collapse of ‘humanism’
- A satire of Erofeev’s samizdat contemporaries?
- Chapter 5: Fool outside Christ? Dmitry Galkovsky’s myth of Rozanov-yurodivyi and its precursors (Sinyavsky, Ven. Erofeev et al.)
- The Émigré Perspective: Yury Ivask and Andrei Sinyavsky
- The ‘Eccentric’ Perspective: Venedikt Erofeev’s Rozanov
- View from the Dead End: Dmitry Galkovsky’s ‘Wise Mistakes’
- Concluding Thoughts: Integrity at What Cost?
- Part III: Continuations and New Directions since 1991
- Chapter 6: The Infantility of Viktor Pelevin (‘The Ontology of Childhood’, Omon Ra, Generation ‘P’)
- Omon Ra (1992)
- Generation ‘P’ (1999)
- Chapter 7: In Search of Maturity: The fool and his brother (Terekhov, Pavlov, Sadulaev, Makanin, Sharov)
- Chapter 8: The Fool and his Father, and Sometimes her Mother: Intellectual disability and holy foolishness (Buida, Vasilenko and others)
- Про Иванушку-дурачка и золотую рыбку
- About Ivan the Fool and the Goldfish
- Select Bibliography
- Primary Sources: Literature, 1963–2013
- Secondary Sources: Literature, 1963–2013
- Secondary Sources: Social and Cultural History, 1963–2013
- Secondary Sources: Folly and Related Topics in Literature and Culture
- Series index
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