The First Epoch: The Eighteenth Century And The Russian Cultural Imagination

Paperback | July 30, 2014

byLuba Golburt

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Modern Russian literature has two “first” epochs: secular literature’s rapid rise in the eighteenth century and Alexander Pushkin’s Golden Age in the early nineteenth. In the shadow of the latter, Russia’s eighteenth-century culture was relegated to an obscurity hardly befitting its actually radical legacy. And yet the eighteenth century maintains an undeniable hold on the Russian historical imagination to this day. Luba Golburt’s book is the first to document this paradox. In formulating its self-image, the culture of the Pushkin era and after wrestled far more with the meaning of the eighteenth century, Golburt argues, than is commonly appreciated.
            Why did nineteenth-century Russians put the eighteenth century so quickly behind them? How does a meaningful present become a seemingly meaningless past? Interpreting texts by Lomonosov, Derzhavin, Pushkin, Viazemsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and others, Golburt finds surprising answers, in the process innovatively analyzing the rise of periodization and epochal consciousness, the formation of canon, and the writing of literary history.

Winner, Marc Raeff Book Prize, Eighteenth-Century Russian Studies Association

Winner, Heldt Prize for the Best Book by a Woman in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian Studies, Association for Women in Slavic Studies

Winner, Best Book in Literary and Cultural Studies, American Association of Teachers of Slavic and Eastern European Languages

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Modern Russian literature has two “first” epochs: secular literature’s rapid rise in the eighteenth century and Alexander Pushkin’s Golden Age in the early nineteenth. In the shadow of the latter, Russia’s eighteenth-century culture was relegated to an obscurity hardly befitting its actually radical legacy. And yet the eighteenth centu...

Luba Golburt is an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches nineteenth-century Russian literature in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:402 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:July 30, 2014Publisher:University Of Wisconsin PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0299298140

ISBN - 13:9780299298142

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations                            
Acknowledgments                             
 
Introduction: The Eighteenth Century as a Vanishing Point                         
 
Part I: Derzhavin's Moment
Prologue                                 
1 The Empresses' Histories: Lomonosov and Derzhavin                              
2 Catherine's Passing: The Hybrid Genres of Commemoration                                
3 Poetry Reads Power: The Overcoming of Patronage                                 
 
Part II: The Fictions of the Eighteenth Century
Prologue                                 
4 The Verisimilar Eighteenth Century: Historical Fiction in the 1830s                                
5 Mimetic Temporalities: Fashion from the Eighteenth Century to Pushkin's "The Queen of Spades"                              
6 The Margins of History: Ivan Turgenev's Eighteenth-Century Characters                                   
 
Epilogue                                 
 
Notes             
Bibliography                          
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Golburt’s impressively rich and elegantly written book tackles the paradoxes of the status of the eighteenth century in the Russian cultural imagination . . . the beginning of Russian modernity and Russia’s secular literary tradition, on the one hand; and, on the other hand, its perception, already in the early nineteenth century, as an outdated, archaic, and irrelevant era.”—Eighteenth-Century Fiction