How Russia Learned To Write: Literature And The Imperial Table Of Ranks

Hardcover | August 23, 2016

byIrina Reyfman

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In the eighteenth century, as modern forms of literature began to emerge in Russia, most of the writers producing it were members of the nobility. But their literary pursuits competed with strictly enforced obligations to imperial state service. Unique to Russia was the Table of Ranks, introduced by Emperor Peter the Great in 1722. Noblesse oblige was not just a lofty principle; aristocrats were expected to serve in the military, civil service, or the court, and their status among peers depended on advancement in ranks.
            Irina Reyfman illuminates the surprisingly diverse effects of the Table of Ranks on writers, their work, and literary culture in Russia. From Sumarokov and Derzhavin in the eighteenth century through Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, and poets serving in the military in the nineteenth, state service affected the self-images of writers and the themes of their creative output. Reyfman also notes its effects on Russia’s atypical course in the professionalization and social status of literary work.

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In the eighteenth century, as modern forms of literature began to emerge in Russia, most of the writers producing it were members of the nobility. But their literary pursuits competed with strictly enforced obligations to imperial state service. Unique to Russia was the Table of Ranks, introduced by Emperor Peter the Great in 1722. Nob...

Irina Reyfman is a professor of Russian literature at Columbia University. She is the author and editor of several books, including Rank and Style: Russians in State Service, Life, and Literature and Ritualized Violence Russian Style.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:August 23, 2016Publisher:University Of Wisconsin PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0299308308

ISBN - 13:9780299308308

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     
Note on Transliteration and Translation        
 
Introduction: Russian Writers and State Service, 1750s–1850s        
1 To Serve or to Write? Noble Writers in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries  
2 Pushkin as Bureaucrat, Courtier, and Writer          
3 Hierarchy of Ranks according to Gogol     
4 Poets in the Military: Denis Davydov, Aleksandr Polezhaev, and Mikhail Lermontov     
5 Service Ranks in Dostoevsky’s Life and Fiction    
Conclusion: Beyond Rank     
 
Appendix: The Table of Ranks          
Notes  
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Indispensable reading for all who study Russian literature of the Imperial period. Reyfman adds nuance and necessary reevaluation to our understanding of how literary careers and literary biography evolved in Russia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.”—Andrew Kahn, University of Oxford