By Susan Layton
This can be the 1st synthesizing research of Russian writing concerning the Caucasus in the course of the nineteenth-century age of empire-building. It covers significant writers together with Pushkin, Tolstoy and Lermontov, but additionally introduces fabric from travelogues, oriental reviews, ethnography, memoirs, and the utterances of tsarist officers and armed forces commanders. environment those writings and the responses of the Russian readership in ancient and cultural context, Susan Layton examines ways in which literature underwrote imperialism. yet her learn additionally unearths the tensions among the Russian state's ideology of a eu undertaking to civilize the Caucasian Muslim mountaineers, and romantic perceptions of these peoples as noble primitives whose extermination used to be no reason for social gathering.
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Additional info for Russian Literature and Empire: Conquest of the Caucasus from Pushkin to Tolstoy
More tellingly, Zhirmunsky said virtually nothing about Pushkin's footnotes, a significant non-fictional component of the text. Like Zhirmunsky's Formalist rage for unity, a related line of criticism obscured the dual-purpose character of "The Prisoner of the Caucasus" by trying to pigeonhole the poema as strictly "high" literature for admiratory readers of the early nineteenth century. "Poema" had always encompassed the epic. In the 1820s, however, the proponents of romanticism largely appropriated the term to signify a long tale in verse in tune with their anti-classical artistic agenda.
2 For all its concern with the Circassians, "The Prisoner of the Caucasus" constructed the Russian encounter with nature as restorative tourism focused on the self: as a site of inspiration and rejuvenation, the land acquired meaning primarily in terms of its impact on the poet and his hero who falls captive and escapes. Despite the poem's many intimations of Asiatic menace, a trope of Russian harmony with nature largely suspended the ongoing violence of tsarist imperialism. Captivity affords the prisoner both the erotic adventure with the tribeswoman and thrilling contact with mountain wilderness.
Never destined to receive the state's permission to go abroad, Pushkin expressed raging wanderlust in a letter to Prince Pyotr Viazemsky in 1820: "Petersburg is stifling for a poet. "31 The poetry of Byron both prompted Russians to go on journeys and served as a substitute for those who could not leave home. Initially known to Pushkin's generation as the author of tales of adventure in exotic lands, Byron acquired a Russian reputation as the traveling author par excellence. " In the same period Byron's oriental poems, as well as the full text of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, circulated widely in the French prose translations of Amedee Pichot, the imported versions read by the majority of Russians.