Representing the Marginal Woman in Nineteenth-century Russian Literature: Personalism, Feminism, and Polyphony

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 175 pages
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Gender-oriented studies of 19th-century Russian literature have struggled with how to determine the feminism or misogyny of particular authors. This book argues that in order to make this determination, we need to engage with the poetics of the text rather than rely on the author's stated views. By focusing on the character type of the ward, or young female dependent, this book examines the narrative strategies used by such writers as Pushkin, Zhukova, Tolstoy, Herzen, and Dostoevsky to represent socially marginal women in their works.

Drawing on the theories of Bakhtin, the volume analyzes the degree to which female characters are presented as subjects who actively think and perceive, rather than as passive objects who are thought of and perceived by men. In a polyphonic novel, authors enter into dialogic relationships with their characters; they depict them as unfinalizable persons, unfathomable and unpredictable, capable of the full range of human activity and emotion. The extent to which this polyphony incorporates women's voices is an accurate gauge of the feminism or misogyny of individual writers.

 

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Contents

Pushkins Discovery Erasing the MarginCenter Dichotomy
11
Becoming a Subject Beyond the Objectifying Male Gaze Zhukovas The Locket and SelfSacrifice
33
Herzens Who Is to Blame? Feminism Between Freedom and Determinism
63
Tolstoy on the Way Toward Feminism and Polyphony From War and Peace to Anna Karenina
87
Dostoevskys Dasha Shatova Demons as the Culmination of the Russian Ward Tradition
107
Dostoevsky Listening to and Rebroadcasting a Womans Voice Demons and Jane Eyre
131
Conclusion
155
Works Cited
159
Index
169
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About the author (2001)

SVETLANA SLAVSKAYA GRENIER is Assistant Professor of Russian at Georgetown University. Her articles have appeared in such journals as Russian Literature, New Zealand Slavonic Journal, Canadian Slavonic Papers, and Slavic and East European Journal.

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