For most English-speaking readers, Russian literature consists of asmall number of individual writers - nineteenth-century masterssuch as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Turgenev - or a few well-knownworks - Chekhov's plays, Brodsky's poems, and perhaps Master andMargarita and Doctor Zhivago from the twentieth century.The medieval period, as well as the brilliant tradition of Russianlyric poetry from the eighteenth century to the present, are almostcompletely terra incognita, as are the complex proseexperiments of Nikolai Gogol, Nikolai Leskov, Andrei Belyi, andAndrei Platonov. Furthermore, those writers who have made an impactare generally known outside of the contexts in which they wrote andin which their work has been received. In this engaging book, Andrew Baruch Wachtel and Ilya Vinitskyprovide a comprehensive, conceptually challenging history ofRussian literature, including prose, poetry and drama. Each of theten chapters deals with a bounded time period from medieval Russiato the present. In a number of cases, chapters overlapchronologically, thereby allowing a given period to be seen in morethan one context. To tell the story of each period, the authorsprovide an introductory essay touching on the highpoints of itsdevelopment and then concentrate on one biography, one literary orcultural event, and one literary work, which serve as prismsthrough which the main outlines of a given period?s development canbe discerned. Although the focus is on literature, individualworks, lives and events are placed in broad historical context aswell as in the framework of parallel developments in Russian artand music.
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