The Caucasus in Russian Literary Imagination: Pushkin, Lermontov and Tolstoy (part I)

I have been away for a quite some time but now I am back, and so is the ‘The Caucasus Calling’. While away, I suddenly made a surprising shift from looking at contemporary proceedings to diving back into Russia and Caucasus’ nineteenth-century history. What interested me was the way the Caucasus was portrayed in Russian literature, and what place the land occupied in popular imagination. I focused on some best known narratives and was surprised to see how extensively the seemingly familiar narratives talk about things I thought they do not even mention. What was the general attitude to the Caucasus among nineteenth-century Russian public? How did people imagine this land, exotic and foreign yet ‘conquered’ (indeed?) by the empire? What is there in common between the Caucasus, tricksterdom and liminality? Let’s get straight to the point.

Geroi nashego vremeni title page Kavkazskii plennik title page Khadzhi-Murat oblozhka

I will attempt to give new narrative interpretations of the the three texts which largely define the tradition of imaginary Caucasus in Russian literature – Pushkin’s The Prisoner of the Caucasus, Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time, and Tolstoy’s Khadzhi-Murat. All three texts have evoked a whole host of literary interpretations, which kept changing over time, and to a large degree, it was the political context these works were placed into that had caused so much interpretative controversy.

I will be looking at the shaping of the narrative of fictionally invented land called ‘the Caucasus’ in Russian cultural imagination, and the way the construction of this narrative is indicative of the gap between the actual political and the imaginary relationship of the Empire and its periphery. Continue reading “The Caucasus in Russian Literary Imagination: Pushkin, Lermontov and Tolstoy (part I)”

Book Review: Georgi M. Derluguian. Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in The Caucasus. A World-System Biography.

Bourdieu

I am approaching the review of this book with a lot of excitement and thrill. First of all, this is by far my favorite book about the Caucasus. Second, it is one of the few (and spectacular) examples of applying world-system analysis to post-Soviet material, and perhaps, the first  work doing that for contemporary Caucasus.

I should be honest, I failed all my homeworks and everything else when I came across this book: I could not stop reading until I finished the last line with along with the first rays of morning sun throwing light upon my sleeplessly desolate room. It is an incredibly compelling narrative, and the book is as dynamic as an adventure novel – which, to some extent, it is.

Continue reading “Book Review: Georgi M. Derluguian. Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in The Caucasus. A World-System Biography.”