All posts tagged Pushkin

The Gulag fantastic?

I have just finished teaching a new cross-cultural course, Tales of the Unexpected, with my colleague Peter Zusi. A whistle-stop tour through the fantastic and supernatural from the Grimm brothers to H. P. Lovecraft, the course has been great fun, but beyond the appearance of Gogol (his Ukrainian folktale ‘Vii’) and Dostoevsky (the classic work […]

Top ten undead in Russian literature

“The dead are people too.” Andrei Platonov, The Foundation Pit Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the influence on nineteenth-century Russian literature of romantic and gothic sensibilities, and of fantastic writers from ETA Hoffmann to Edgar Allan Poe, the notion of the undead plays a significant role for some of the most prominent Russian writers. Encompassing not only […]

Russian thought lecture 10: Utopias in Russian culture: of palaces and panopticons

Reading: Dostoevsky, “Dream of a Ridiculous Man” (1877) So we come to the end of this lecture series, and a slightly different focus than previously, as theoretical works take a back seat, and we look instead at Russian literature and culture to explore the utopian theme. There are clearly strong utopian aspects to the work […]

Review: St Petersburg city-pick

City-pick St Petersburg, ed. Heather Reyes, Marina Samsonova and James Rann (Oxygen Books, 2012) The city-pick series of anthologies of city writing has turned its attention to St Petersburg, producing a thoroughly enjoyable collection that made me want to revisit old favourites and seek out some very interesting-looking texts (particularly non-Russian ones) that I hadn’t […]

Russian Thought Lecture 1: Petr Chaadaev and the Russian Question

Readings: Petr Chaadaev, “First Philosophical Letter” and “Apologia of a Madman” Before we get on to Chaadaev, the first question we must address is why he acts as the starting point for our exploration of Russian intellectual history. Chaadaev did not invent Russian philosophy; there was already a significant tradition of philosophical and polemical writing […]

BASEES 2012 highlights

I was quite busy with committee business during the BASEES conference, but did manage to attend a few panels, and want to pick out a few highlights from what everyone I spoke to agreed was a very stimulating and enjoyable weekend. A Monday morning panel on Gulag literature may not be everybody’s idea of fun, […]

Top ten letters in Russian literature

Letters play a significant role in some of my favourite works of Russian literature, and a couple in particular have been very much on my mind lately. So here is my top ten, which manages to encompass everything from the absurd to the tragic. Apologies for the plot spoilers (especially in entries 10, 7 and […]

Top ten food in Russian literature

Food is a tricky subject, as there are a lot of viable candidates for inclusion – so many that I toyed with the idea of doing a top twenty, but that’s a cop out, so I’ve had to whittle it down, and some exceptional works have missed the cut. I’ll say a bit more about […]

Mapping Petersburg

Over the last few months I have been working with John Levin on the pilot for a digital Russian literature project, and last week we launched the website, Mapping Petersburg: Experiments in Literary Cartography. The project aims to explore the role of Petersburg’s topography in shaping the literature for which the city is so famous, […]

Top Ten Murders in Russian Literature

This is the first in a new occasional series in which I’ll look at different aspects of Russian literature through a ‘Top Ten’, and hopefully give people a few reading ideas. My main rule is that writers may only have one entry in any given list. Which makes my first subject slightly trickier than it […]