The Art of Writing Badly: Valentin Kataev's Mauvism and the Rebirth of Russian Modernism

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Northwestern University Press, 1999 - Literary Criticism - 404 pages
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"The art of writing badly" is a phrase the Russian writer Valentin Kataev coined to describe the work that came out of the mauvist movement in Russia-a style of writing that consciously challenged Soviet dogma. In this book, Richard Borden discusses the cultural and political context from which these authors emerged and the development of "bad writing."

Beginning with a close examination of the work of Kataev, the best-known progenitor of "bad writing," Borden then broadens his study to include the "mauvist creations" of post-Stalinist writers Aksenov, Bitov, Sokolov, Limonov, Evgeny Popov, and Venedikt Erofeev. Borden shows how these writers' shared mauvistic characteristics reveal major philosophical and aesthetic tendencies in contemporary Russian culture, bring to light facets of their writing that have never been discussed, and enrich the readings of the particular texts under discussion.
 

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Contents

Introduction The Art of Writing Badly
1
Chapter Two Ambiguous Excess Significant Chaos
52
Chapter Three The Aesopian Mauvist
76
Chapter Four The Solipsist as Memoirist
110
A Shattered Life
137
Chapter Seven Mauvists
185
Vasilii Aksenov
211
Eduard Limonov
239
Venedikt Erofeev
259
Andrei Bitov
283
Sasha Sokolov
311
Notes
339
Index
393
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About the author (1999)

Richard Borden, formerly a member of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University, is now an independent scholar living in Moscow.

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