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Title: Reading revolution : Russian émigrés and the reception of Russian literature in England, c. 1890-1905
Author: Peaker, Carol L.
ISNI:       0000 0000 3819 6986
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis explores the involvement of Russian emigres in disseminating and informing the reception of Russian literature in England. It examines their use of translations and literary commentary as vehicles for propaganda, and considers the impact of their unique approach to literature on both Anglo-Russian relations and English letters. Part One describes the arrival of Russian émigrés in England and their mixed reception: as victims of a brutal regime, mysterious sages, exotic outcasts, Slavic barbarians, or at worst, as dangerous 'incendiarists' to be feared and reviled. It reflects on the welcome and assistance offered them by socialists, feminists, literati and Nonconformists, as well as the dangers they faced from Russian government agents and their English confreres. It then introduces, in turn, each of the five Russian exiles featured in this thesis, providing biographical details, outlining their work in Britain as propagandists and political agitators, and mapping out their political and literary affiliations. Part Two opens with an analysis of the motives - financial, political, cultural, and personal - which compelled Russian exiles to promulgate Russian literature in England. A chapter is then devoted to each of the five émigrés, chronicling their work disseminating the Russian canon, and outlining the circumstances surrounding their translations, lectures, books, journal articles, and publishing activities. Interspersed within these five narratives are discourses on each propagandist's aesthetic vision. Part Three is a case study of the émigré impact on Turgenev's English reputation. It starts by tracing the author's early reception, showing how he was initially regarded in England as a European novelist whose artistry took precedence over his politics, and whose exquisite writing revealed universal truths through its careful selection and presentation of minute details. It then shows how émigré commentary altered perceptions of the author, transforming him from a disinterested artist dealing only in universal themes into a radical critic of various epochs of Russian national life, whose novels revealed important inner truths about the state of Russian society and politics. The conclusion examines what may be termed the 'collateral' effects of émigré commentary on Russian literature and their involvement in translation projects in England. Firstly, it looks at the political impact of their criticism: how the émigré presentation of Russian literature affected Anglo-Russian relations and attitudes towards the first Russian revolution in 1905. It then considers how émigrés helped or hindered reputations of writers according to their own politically and aesthetically motivated preferences. Finally, it looks at the possible ramifications of émigré literary theory on English approaches to literature and criticism, and suggests further avenues of inquiry.
Supervisor: Sloan, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Refugees ; History ; Russian literature ; Appreciation ; Russians ; England