The Future Of Nostalgia

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Basic Books, Mar 21, 2001 - Social Science - 432 pages
Can one be nostalgic for the home one never had? Why is it that the age of globalization is accompanied by a no less global epidemic of nostalgia? Can we know what we are nostalgic for? In the seventeenth century, Swiss doctors believed that opium, leeches, and a trek through the Alps would cure nostalgia. In 1733 a Russian commander, disgusted with the debilitating homesickness rampant among his troops, buried a soldier alive as a deterrent to nostalgia. In her new book, Svetlana Boym develops a comprehensive approach to this elusive ailment. Combining personal memoir, philosophical essay, and historical analysis, Boym explores the spaces of collective nostalgia that connect national biography and personal self-fashioning in the twenty-first century. She guides us through the ruins and construction sites of post-communist cities-St. Petersburg, Moscow, Berlin, and Prague-and the imagined homelands of exiles-Benjamin, Nabokov, Mandelstam, and Brodsky. From Jurassic Park to the Totalitarian Sculpture Garden, from love letters on Kafka's grave to conversations with Hitler's impersonator, Boym unravels the threads of this global epidemic of longing and its antidotes.

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About the author (2001)

Svetlana Boym was born in Leningrad, Russia on April 29, 1959. She received a bachelor's degree in Hispanic languages and literatures from the Herzen State Pedagogical Institute in Leningrad, a master's degree in Hispanic languages and literatures from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Harvard University. She became an assistant professor at Harvard in 1988. Her work included the nonfiction books Death in Quotation Marks: Cultural Myths of the Modern Poet, Common Places: Mythologies of Everyday Life in Russia, The Future of Nostalgia, and Another Freedom: The Alternative History of an Idea; a novel entitled Ninochka; and a play entitled The Woman Who Shot Lenin. She was also known as a photographer, with her work exhibited at galleries around the world. She died from cancer on August 5, 2015 at the age of 56.

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