History in a Grotesque Key: Russian Literature and the Idea of Revolution

History in a Grotesque Key: Russian Literature and the Idea of Revolution

History in a Grotesque Key: Russian Literature and the Idea of Revolution

History in a Grotesque Key: Russian Literature and the Idea of Revolution

Synopsis

Platt studies four periods of upheaval in Russian history to examine their effects on literary creation, and argues that the historical, or revolutionary, grotesque represents an approach to history that highlights the ironies of historical periods.

Excerpt

Arriving in Moscow in the early 1990s after an absence of several years, you might have experienced the uneasy feeling that the plane had made a wrong turn over Europe and you had landed in some sort of Amsterdam or perhaps even in New York. This peculiar nonrecognition of the familiar captured, in distilled form, the shock felt by many Russians at the time. The layout of the city and the subway system was recognizable, but the names were all different and the street life had a new and distinctly un-Soviet appearance. The formerly ubiquitous "Barber," "Meat- Fish," and "Bread" storefronts were quickly being crowded out by flashy "Mercantile Stores," "Commission Shops," "Euro-Moda Hairstylists," restaurants with names like Grandma's Place, not to mention the McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell restaurants, the Chanel, Panasonic, Bennetton, and Lego stores that had taken over those shrines to Soviet consumer goods, the GUM department store and Kalinin Prospect, now called the New Arbat. Then there were the kiosks, formerly a source of ice cream, periodicals, and cheap cigarettes, suddenly a form of commando-capitalism, often operating without license only to be hauled away and set down somewhere else when the city government got wise, selling everything necessary for life, from bath towels, canned ham, Barbie, and stereo components to counterfeit French cognac, lingerie, firearms, condoms, and illegal drugs. By 1995 these same kiosks had taken root and grown into prefabricated steel and glass pavilions that filled the broad . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.