Dialogues

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Duke University Press, 1994 - Literary Criticism - 415 pages
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Co-authored by Russian, Ukrainian, and American critics, Dialogues/Dialogi is the first fully collaborative and comparative study of American and (ex)Soviet women writers. Truly a dialogue, the book juxtaposes fiction by American and Soviet women from the 1960s to the present to reveal their similarities and differences and to show how questions of gender, race, and ethnicity are enacted in the societies and psyches each text represents. Begun in the early days of glasnost and completed in 1992, the book conveys the spirit and excitement of an unprecedented critical conversation conducted during a time of historic transformation.
Dialogues/Dialogi pairs stories by Tillie Olsen, Toni Cade Bambara, Jayne Anne Phillips, and Leslie Marmon Silko (reprinted here in full) with Russian stories by I. Grekova, Liudmila Petrushevskaya, Elena Makarova, and Anna Nerkagi, many of them appearing here for the first time in English. Exquisite in their stylistic and thematic variety, suggestive of the range of women's experience and fiction in both countries, each story is the subject of paired interpretive essays by an American and an (ex)Soviet critic from among the book's authors.
A colloquy of diverse voices speaking together in multiple, mutually illuminating exchanges, Dialogues/Dialogi testifies to the possibility of evolving relationships among women across borders once considered impassable.
 

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Page 116 - These things shall be ! A loftier race Than e'er the world hath known shall rise With flame of freedom in their souls, And light of knowledge in their eyes. They shall be gentle, brave and strong, To spill no drop of blood, but dare All that may plant man's lordship firm On earth and fire, and sea, and air. Nation with nation, land with land, Unarmed shall live as comrades free; In every heart and brain shall throb The pulse of one fraternity.
Page 102 - I'll check it: evacuate or stay in the city or wait for you to come and take me away. (Seeing the look of straining to hear.) It's for Disaster, Grandma. (Children trust.) Vivi in the maze of the long, the lovely drunkenness. The old old noises: baby sounds; screaming of a mother flayed to exasperation; children quarreling; children playing; singing; laughter. And Vivi's tears and memories, spilling so fast, half the words not understood.
Page 91 - ... one winter. . . . Enough. Now they had no children. Let him wrack his head for how they would live. She would not exchange her solitude for anything. Never again to be forced to move to the rhythms of others.
Page 100 - Unnatural grandmother, not able to make herself embrace a baby. She lay there in the bed of the two little girls, her new hearing aid turned full, listening to the sound of the children going to sleep, the baby's fretful crying and hushing, the clatter of dishes being washed and put away. They thought she slept. Still she rode on. It was not that she had not loved her babies, her children. The love — the passion of tending — had risen with the need like a torrent; and like a torrent drowned and...
Page 103 - And he, the hypocrite, sitting there with tears in his eyes too— it was nothing to you then, nothing. ) . . . The time you came to school and I almost died of shame because of your accent and because I knew you knew I was ashamed; how could I? . . . Sammy's harmonica and you danced to it once yes you did you and Davy squealing in your arms . . . That time you bundled us up and walked us down to the...
Page 114 - ... live). From him too, unspoken words: good-bye Mother who taught me to mother myself. Not Vivi, who must stay with her children; not Davy, but he is already here, having to die again with her this time, for the living take their dead with them when they die. Light she grew, like a bird, and, like a bird, sound bubbled in her throat while the body fluttered in agony. Night and day, asleep or awake (though indeed there was no difference now) the songs and the phrases leaping. And he, who had once...
Page 104 - He raged, but the fear was in his eyes. "It was a serious operation, they told you to take care. . . . All right, we will go to where you can rest.
Page 108 - Of course he would have heard of it, everybody goes— the big doings they wait for all week. They have never been? She will come to them for dinner tomorrow and they will all go together. So it is that she sits in the wind of the singing, among the thousand various faces of age. She had turned off her hearing aid at once they came into the auditorium— as she would have wished to turn off sight. One by one they streamed by and imprinted on her — and though the savage zest of their singing came...
Page 94 - No more crushers of people, pushers, hypocrites, around me. No more in my house. You go to them if you like." "Kind he is to visit. And you, like ice." "A babbler. All my life around babblers. Enough!" "She's even worse, Dad? Then let her stew awhile," advised Nancy. "You can't let it destroy you; it's a psychological thing, maybe too far gone for any of us to help.
Page 93 - Seriously, Dad. This is the third Sunday she's lain down like that after dinner. Is she that way at home?" "A regular love affair with the bed. Every time I start to talk to her." Good protective reaction, observed Nancy to herself. The workings of hos-ti-lity. "Nancy could take her. I just don't like how she looks. Let's have Nancy arrange an appointment." "You think she'll go?" regarding his wife gloomily. "All right, we have to have doctor bills, we have to have doctor bills." Loudly: "Something...

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About the author (1994)

Susan Hardy Aiken is Professor of English at the University of Arizona.

Adele Barker is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Maya Koreneva is a scholar at the A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature in Moscow.

Ekaterina Stetsenko is a scholar at the A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature in Moscow.

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