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Mastering Chaos

The Metafictional Worlds of Evgeny Popov

Jeremy Morris

«This is an interesting and important book, the first attempt to encapsulate the highly idiosyncratic œuvre and career of Evgeny Popov, a major and controversial figure in the late Soviet and post-Soviet literary landscape.» (Michael Pushkin, University of Birmingham)
«Morris is excellent in his treatment of the writer’s attitude towards the past and history; and he differentiates between Popov’s more nuanced and ambiguous view of the Soviet experiment and those writers, likewise liberals, who have adopted a ‘confessional’ stance.» (Robert Porter, University of Bristol)
«A broad contextualization of the works of this important Russian author.» (Christine Engel, University of Innsbruck)
This is the first book devoted to the writings of Evgeny Popov (born 1946), a major and controversial figure in the late Soviet and post-Soviet literary landscape. The author uses a wide range of primary and secondary sources, many of them in Russian, alongside detailed analysis of the novels and stories themselves. The introduction charts the course of Popov’s personal and professional biography, including major turning points such as the Metropole affair of 1979. A chapter on critical contexts provides a clear account of the history of Popov’s reception. Other chapters focus on the first collection of short stories and the complexities of narrative voice, the concept of the ‘non-elucidatory principle’ at the heart of Popov’s poetics, and the short story cycles in Metropole and Catalogue, from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Finally the author addresses the key phenomenon of Popov’s self-fictionalization in both his shorter and longer works up to the present day.


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Note on Transliteration, Translation and Referencing


Apart from familiar words and names, such as ‘Evgeny’, ‘Dmitry’, ‘Paustovsky’ ‘banya’, ‘Krasnoyarsk’, the Library of Congress system of Cyrillic translit- eration is used without diacritics. In the interests of brevity and readability, most direct quotations from Russian are translated with only words of interest, significance or debate given in the original Cyrillic in square brackets. All titles of primary works are given in English and Russian on first mention and then only in English in the text. In footnotes, individual stories are referenced according to story title and abbreviated book titles, e.g. Попов, ‘Ворюга’, Метрополь, 97–100. Most quotations from stories are not given page numbers as most shorter works are only a few pages long at most. Where stories have been published in selections in books and periodicals only, the title of that selection is given in the bibliography: e.g. ‘Рассказы’, Каталог, ed. Fillip Berman (Ann Arbor, MI: Ardis, 1982), 171–203. A full alphabetic listing of all Popov’s shorter works is given in the Appendix. This indicates the year, place and page numbers of first publication, where known.

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