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The Dark Mirror/Tjomnoje Zerkalo

American Literary Response to Russia


Myler Wilkinson

Scholarly interest in the relationship between Russia and America has most often focused on a dialectic of social and political difference. Distinct from this approach, The Dark Mirror explores the way in which American literary identities have emerged out of intense dialogue with Russian culture. Drawing on the ideas of Mikhail Bakhtin, the study traces the historical connections that have drawn American writers into the orbit of Russian literature and culture during the period 1860-1917. Individual chapters are devoted to Henry James, Willa Cather, and Sherwood Anderson as each reads the figures of Russian literature against a native American tradition. The concluding chapter initiates discussion on the ways in which literary influence is bound up with a dialogue shaped by the needs of social identity and political power.