Erotic Utopia: The Decadent Imagination in Russia's Fin de Siecle

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Univ of Wisconsin Press, Aug 1, 2005 - Literary Criticism - 354 pages

The first generation of Russian modernists experienced a profound sense of anxiety resulting from the belief that they were living in an age of decline. What made them unique was their utopian prescription for overcoming the inevitability of decline and death both by metaphysical and physical means. They intertwined their mystical erotic discourse with European degeneration theory and its obsession with the destabilization of gender. In Erotic Utopia, Olga Matich suggests that same-sex desire underlay their most radical utopian proposal of abolishing the traditional procreative family in favor of erotically induced abstinence.

2006 Winner, CHOICE Award for Outstanding Academic Titles, Current Reviews for Academic Libraries Honorable Mention, Aldo and Jean Scaglione Prize for Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures, Modern Language Association
“Offers a fresh perspective and a wealth of new information on early Russian modernism. . . . It is required reading for anyone interested in fin-de-siècle Russia and in the history of sexuality in general.”—Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, Slavic and East European Journal

“Thoroughly entertaining.”—Avril Pyman, Slavic Review
 

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Contents

Fragmenting and Dissecting the Body
27
What Is Erotic about Vladimir Solovevs Utopia?
57
Marriage Genealogy Degeneration
89
History as Palimpsest
126
The Case of Zinaida Gippius
162
Celibacy contra Marriage
212
The Case of an Amoral Procreationist
236
Conclusion
274
Notes
281
Index
329
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About the author (2005)

Olga Matich is professor of Russian literature and culture at the University of California-Berkeley.

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