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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Historicity and the romantic novel in Britain and Russia
by Volkova, Olga, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2014, 193; 3620635
Abstract (Summary)

"Historicity and the Romantic Novel in Britain and Russia" explores the engagement of early nineteenth-century Russian writers with contemporary British novels. Most studies of Russian fiction emphasize Russia's reliance on French models. Due to the profound shift in the understanding of history that occurred in Great Britain in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, however, the less studied and underappreciated British connection also played a formative role in the development of the Russian novel. During those years, the definition of history was broadened to include the previously excluded areas of social experience and private life. Imbued with a reflexive awareness of its task, British Romantic historicism purported not only to place the objects of study within their actual settings but also to invent situations in which historical events might have occurred. This general boost in historicist sensibility affected not only the development of the English-language novel, but also the emerging tradition of Russian fiction. The two parts of my dissertation each focus on two exemplary novels: in the first part, The Bride of Lammermoor by Walter Scott and Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol; in the second, The Last Man by Mary Shelley and Russian Nights by Vladimir Odoevsky. In each case, I consider the mechanisms of self-renewal that allow the Romantic novel to depict historical pressures and adapt to them. Drawing on German idealist philosophy and Scottish Enlightenment historiographical models, I study the use of metaphor and allegory and the relation between such sub-genres as the gothic and grotesque, showing how they contributed to a reimagining of the role of history in Britain. In more extreme and fragmented forms, this new view of history then became the basis for a similarly radical recasting of history in Russia. Ultimately, I demonstrate how the prose of the Romantic novel in its rhetorical extravagance offered ways to enrich, redeem, and reimagine history.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Marks, Herbert
Commitee: Emery, Jacob, Favret, Mary, Lloyd, Rosemary, Valentino, Russell
School: Indiana University
Department: Comparative Literature
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Slavic literature, British and Irish literature
Keywords: British novels, Nikolai Gogol, Romantic novels, Russian writers, Walter Scott
Publication Number: 3620635
ISBN: 978-1-303-91186-6
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