Silence and the Rest

Cloth Text – $45.00

ISBN 978-0-8101-2920-7
Publication Date
August 2013
Page Count
312 pages
Trim Size
6.125 x 9.25

Silence and the Rest

Verbal Skepticism in Russian Poetry

Scholars have long noted the deeply rooted veneration of the power of the word—both the expressive and communicative capacities of language—in Russian literature and culture. In her ambitious book Silence and the Rest, Sofya Khagi illuminates a consistent counternarrative, showing how, throughout its entire history, Russian poetry can be read as an argument for what she calls “verbal skepticism.” Although she deals with many poets from a two-century tradition, Khagi gives special emphasis to Osip Mandelstam, Joseph Brodsky, and Timur Kibirov, offering readings that add new layers of meaning to their work. She posits a long-running dialogue between the poets and the philosophers and theorists who have also been central to the antiverbal strain of Russian culture. Unlike its Western counterpart, the Russian philosophical and theological doubt of the efficacy of the word still grants the author, and literature itself, an ethical force, the inadequacies of language notwithstanding.

About the Author

Sofya Khagi is an assistant professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan.


"In her wide-ranging, densely argued, and earnest book, Sofya Khagi argues that the resulting texts constitute a major strand in the thematic spectrum of Russian poetry since the early nineteenth century... boldly offering both close readings and generalizations that merit the attention of anyone seriously concerned with Russian poetry." --Slavic and East European Review 

"This is a conceptually rich and thought-provoking book, which features masterful close readings...The book is a stimulating read for anyone interested in the history of Russian poetry and Russian cultural history. It has much to offer to scholars of nineteenth-century Russian literature, and it adds many valuable readings to the scholarship on the key figures explored in the volume: Mandelstam, Brodsky, and Kibirov." --Slavic and East European Journal

"Detailed and thought-provoking... Touches of humor or stylistic whimsy suggest that one of Khagi’s qualifications for interpreting sophisticated poetry is her own gift for approaching language. Silence and the Rest constitutes an important statement in the literature on Russian poetry and should be on the shelf of any serious academic library." —The Russian Review