The Imperative of Reliability

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3442-3

Cloth Text – $79.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3057-9
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E-book – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-6821-3
Publication Date
February 2015
Page Count
248 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Imperative of Reliability

Russian Prose on the Eve of the Novel, 1820s-1850s
Victoria Somoff

The Imperative of Reliability examines the development of nineteenth-century Russian prose and the remarkably swift emergence of the Russian novel. Victoria Somoff identifies an unprecedented situation in the production and perception of the utterance that came to define nascent novelistic fictionality both in European and Russian prose, where the utterance itself—whether an oral story or a “found” manuscript—became the object of representation within the compositional format of the frame narrative. This circumstance generated a narrative perspective from which both the events and their representation appeared as concomitant in time and space: the events did not precede their narration but rather occurred and developed along with and within the narration itself. Somoff establishes this story-discourse convergence as a major factor in enabling the transition from shorter forms of Russian prose to the full-fledged realist novel.

About the Author

VICTORIA SOMOFF is an assistant professor in the Department of Russian Language and Literature at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.


"Written in the best traditions of Russian Formalist criticism and in the spirit of modern philosophical aesthetics as it is represented in the early works of Mikhail Bakhtin, Victoria Somoff’s fearlessly (and fiercely) theoretical book accomplishes no less than an innovative and compelling account of the rise of the Russian novel."--Slavic and East European Journal

"Somoff’s account seems to open the way, after all, for a broader, intellectual-, cultural- and sociohistorical understanding of fictional realism." --Slavic and East European Journal