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Zinaida Vengerova: In Search of Beauty

A Literary Ambassador between East and West


Rosina Neginsky

In this book, Zinaida Afanasievna Vengerova, a once famous literary critic, whose importance for the turn of the century European intellectual world is no longer sufficiently appreciated, receives her first full length systematic study. Her intellectual exploration at the turn of the 19th century brought her into contact with Symbolist ideas from several European countries, and she used her profound understanding of these different currents of Symbolism to fashion for herself an ambassadorial role between Western Europe and Russia. In many critical studies she introduced the Russian intellectual world to a wide spectrum of Western European literature, art and thought, including Baudelaire, Maeterlinck, and the French Symbolist poets, Pre-Raphaelite and Expressionist art, and the thought of Nietzsche. As a regular contributor to the Mercure de France in Paris and the Fortnightly Review in London, she acquainted Western audiences with Chekhov and other fin-de-siècle Russian writers. Vengerova was instrumental in developing a theory of Symbolism, especially as it came to be understood in Russia. This book examines her life and work, and the intellectual milieu in which she lived; and serves as a window on Western European and Russian cultural history from the fin-de-siècle through the pre-war period and into the age of Russian émigrés of the 1920s and 1930s.
Contents: Zinaida Vengerova – Isabelle Vengerova – Semen Vengerov – Saint Petersburg: Northern Herald – Hippius – Merezhkovsky – Philosophical and Religious Gatherings – Literary Circles – World of Art – Sologub – Chekhov – Minsky – New Life – France: Belgian and French Symbolism and Decadence – Baudelaire – Maeterlinck – Huysmans – French Symbolist Poets – Symbolism and Feminism – Mercure de France – England: The Pre-Raphaelites – Rossetti – Blake – Browning – Meredith – Wilde – Fortnightly Review – Italy: Renaissance and Symbolism – Botticelli – Dante – Francis of Assisi – D’Annunzio – German Speaking Countries: Individualism and Symbolism – Leo Berg – Hauptmann – Nietzsche – Wedekind – Exodus: House of the Arts – Urusov – Aveling.