The Reluctant Modernist: Andrei Belyi and the Development of Russian Fiction, 1902-1914

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byRoger Keys

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Andrei Belyi (1880-1934) is generally regarded as the greatest and most influential prose-writer to emerge from the Symbolist movement in Russia at the turn of the twentieth century. His early prose `symphonies' and novels are often compared with the work of such European `modernists' as Joyceand Proust. This is the first book to attempt a systematic analysis of the place of Belyi's fiction within the modernist prose tradition in Russia; a tradition which has been obscured by decades of ideological distortion. Paradoxically, Belyi himself, a mystic by nature who sought only transcendentcertainty from the flux of experience, would have been reluctant to claim this tradition as his own. Keys demonstrates the inadequacy of the various `isms' (Symbolism, Impressionism, etc.) which have until recently bedevilled most critical attempts to sort out the prose of the period, giving acomprehensive overview of Belyi criticism from both within and outside the Soviet Union.The book includes a detailed analysis of Belyi's prose works, paying keen attention to his philosophical and literary influences, including extensive reading of Kant and Gogol and its particular effect upon his theory and practice, and locating him firmly in his own Russian context. Sections devotedto Belyi's greatest novel, Petersburg, and other works, such as The Silver Dove and Dramatic Symphony, analyse Belyi's use of structure and plot, leitmotifs and acoustic symbolism. The book marks Belyi's attempts to reconcile the Symbolist vision of the writer as having revelatory mystical authoritywith the concept of `perspectivism', implied author, narrator and character offering a number of different voices which cannot claim cognitive authority beyond the fictional context in which they occur.

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Andrei Belyi (1880-1934) is generally regarded as the greatest and most influential prose-writer to emerge from the Symbolist movement in Russia at the turn of the twentieth century. His early prose `symphonies' and novels are often compared with the work of such European `modernists' as Joyceand Proust. This is the first book to attem...

Roger Keys, Lecturer in Russian, University of St Andrews.

other books by Roger Keys

Format:HardcoverDimensions:282 pages, 8.43 × 5.43 × 0.01 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198151608

ISBN - 13:9780198151609

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Keys does an excellant job of integrating all newly available primary and secondary materials . This is a good book. ... Keys is a careful researcher and a subtle reader of Belyi. ... Keys' command of the material is excellant, and his book will provide a fine research tool for the readerwho wants to become acquainted both with Belyi's primary prose texts and with the state of secondary Belyi studies in Russia and in the West./Angela Brintlinger/International Review of Modernism/Vol 1 No 2 Spring/Summer 1998