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Frames of the Imagination

Gogol’s "Arabesques</I> and the Romantic Question of Genre

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Melissa Frazier

The Romantic question of genre posed by Friedrich Schlegel is a question of epistemology, of how art acts as an instrument of knowledge. Frames of the Imagination transforms this question of genre by shifting the center from Germany to Russia and to Russian Romanticism as expressed in one of its most enigmatic texts – Gogol’s 1835 Arabesques. This work shows Arabesques to be part of a lively philosophical debate as Gogol’s contemporaries struggled to create from the ideas of European Romanticism something uniquely their own. In this study, literary genre becomes a means of structuring history, nationality, and even personal identity as Gogol’s text puts Romantic aesthetics into odd and unexpected action.