Russia’s Dangerous Texts

Politics Between the Lines

Kathleen F. Parthé

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Russia’s Dangerous Texts examines the ways that writers and their works unnerved and irritated Russia’s authoritarian rulers both before and after the Revolution. Kathleen F. Parthé identifies ten historically powerful beliefs about literature and politics in Russia, which include a view of the artistic text as national territory, and the belief that writers must avoid all contact with the state.
Parthé offers a compelling analysis of the power of Russian literature to shape national identity despite sustained efforts to silence authors deemed subversive. No amount of repression could prevent the production, distribution, and discussion of texts outside official channels. Along with tragic stories of lost manuscripts and persecuted writers, there is ample evidence of an unbroken thread of political discourse through art. The book concludes with a consideration of the impact of two centuries of dangerous texts on post-Soviet Russia.

Kathleen F. Parthé is professor of Russian and director of Russian studies at the University of Rochester. She is the author of Russian Village Prose and, with James H. Billington, The Search for a New Russian National Identity.

"Russia’s Dangerous Texts will be the first in-depth re-evaluation of Russian literary history up to the present date to take sufficient advantage of the hindsight of the ten years since the Soviet Union and its official cultural institutions collapsed. Parthé exploits this privileged vantage point to the fullest to expose the issues that hinder the (re)constitution of a coherent vision of what Russian literature is today."—Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy, Chair of the Slavic Department of Barnard College and Director of the Harriman Institute of Columbia University

"Jargon free, well written, and meticulously documented, this satisfying book ultimately delves into the very nature of Russian literature, and it does so in a way that both introduces a difficult concept and offers specialists food for thought. Essential."—Choice


"[A] sophisticated, well-written book."—Norma Noonan, History: Reviews of New Books

"An insightful and especially timely work of scholarship that will appeal to those interested in the dynamics and consequences of cultural debates in Russia's recent past. Scholars of contemporary Russian culture and literature, as well as those interested in the changing face of Russian nationalism in the post-Soviet era, will find Parthé's book both engaging and illuminating."—Julie A. Cassiday, Slavic and East European Journal

Finalist for the 2005 American Association for Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages book prize in the Literary/Cultural Studies category.

Included in Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles list, January 2006
ISBN: 9780300098518
Publication Date: December 11, 2004
304 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4