Imperial Knowledge: Russian Literature and Colonialism

By Ewa M. Thompson | Go to book overview

of the Caucasus provided them an opportunity to hone their colonial rhetoric and consciousness.

Colonial discourse, remarked Said, is a cultural privilege of representing the subjugated Other. As this imperial privilege percolated through foreign and domestic commentary on Russian literature (as well as through literature itself), the submerged history of the Caucasus and of other conquered lands faded away from scholarly and popular memory. While Poland and other western provinces of the empire have partially regained their voice in world discourse, the Caucasus has not. For generations now, a combination of great poetry and the distortive intervention of colonialism conspired to produce an image of the Caucasus as confused, divided, criminal, and poor, one of those incomprehensible and dangerous areas on the fringes of the Russian Federation.72 This perception leads not- infrequently to a conclusion that the Russians might as well keep it.


NOTES
1.
N. S. Kiniapina et al., Kavkaz i Sredniaia Aziia vo vneshnei politike Rossii: Vtoraia polovina XVIII-80-e gody XIX v. ( Moscow, 1984).
2.
In a paradoxical way, Liudmila Petrushevskaia's plays and stories, whose action takes place in the cramped space of Soviet apartment blocks, echo Domostroi in that regard, suggesting that future Russia might abandon its imperial pretensions and concentrate on building a citizen-oriented state.
3.
Domostroi: po spisku imperatorskogo obshchestva istorii i drevnostei rossiiskikh ( Moscow: Universitetskaia Tipografiia M. Katkova, 1882), 1-17. Quoted from a Bradda Books reprint edited by W. F. Ryan (Letchworth and Hertfordshire, England: Bradda Books Ltd., 1971).
4.
Isaac Massa de Harlem, Breue Description des chemins qui menent et des fleuves qui passent de la Moscouie vers le Septentrion et l'Orient dans la Siberie ( 1613), in M. Obolensky, ed., Histoire des Guerres de la Moscovie ( Brussels: Fr. 1. Olivier, 1866).
5.
Edward L. Keenan, "Muscovite Perceptions of Other East Slavs before 1654: An Agenda for Historians", Ukraine and Russia in Their Historical Encounter, edited by P. J. Potichnyj et al. (Edmonton, Alberta: CIUS Press, 1992), 20-38.
6.
Sergei Solov'ev, Istoriia Rossii s drevneishikh vremen ( 1851- 1879), vol. 5 ( Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Sotsial'no-Ekonomicheskoi Literatury, 1961), 182.
7.
D. S. Likhachëv writings on seventeenth-century Russian literature ignore the Polish connection. See chapter 6.
8.
A detailed account of the memoranda of Russia's foreign ministers can be found in Jaroslaw Czubaty, Rosja i świat ( Warsaw: Neriton, 1997).
9.
John Russell, "Catherine, Also Great as a Collector", New York Times, 1 October 1998.
10.
Ludwik Bazylow, Historia nowoiytnej kultury rosyjskiej ( Warsaw: PaĢstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1986), 196.
11.
N. Karamzin, "O liubvi k otechestvu i narodnoi gordosti", Sobranie sochinenii, vol. 2 ( Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia Literatura, 1964), 283.
12.
Bazylow, 198.

-81-

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Imperial Knowledge: Russian Literature and Colonialism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgment vii
  • Introduction: - Nationalism, Colonialism, Identity 1
  • Notes 12
  • 1 - The Problem 15
  • Notes 47
  • 2 - Engendering Empire 53
  • Notes 81
  • 3 - The Consolidating Vision: War and Peace As the New Core Myth Of Russian Nationhood 85
  • Notes 106
  • 4 - The Central Asian Narrative In Russian Letters 109
  • Notes 125
  • 5 - Imperial Desire In the Late Soviet Period 129
  • Notes 150
  • 6 - Scholarship and Empire 153
  • Notes 193
  • 7 - Deconstructing Empire: Liudmila Petrushevskaia 199
  • Notes 221
  • Selected Bibliography 223
  • Index 233
  • About the Author *
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