Isaac Babel and the Self-Invention of Odessan Modernism

Paper Text – $29.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2941-2

Cloth Text – $45.00

ISBN 978-0-8101-2832-3
Publication Date
July 2012
Page Count
220 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Isaac Babel and the Self-Invention of Odessan Modernism

Rebecca Jane Stanton

In what marks an exciting new critical direction, Rebecca Stanton contends that the city of Odessa—as a canonical literary image and as a kaleidoscopic cultural milieu—shaped the narrative strategies developed by Isaac Babel and his contemporaries of the Revolutionary generation. Modeling themselves on the tricksters and rogues of Odessa lore, Babel and his fellow Odessans Val­entin Kataev and Yury Olesha manipulated their literary personae through complex, playful, and often subversive negotiations of the boundary between autobiography and fiction. In so doing, they cannily took up a place prepared for them in the Russian canon and fostered modes of storytelling that both reflected and resisted the aesthetics of Socialist Realism. Stanton concludes with a rereading of Babel’s “autobiographical” stories and examines their leg­acy in post-Thaw works by Kataev, Olesha, and Konstantin Paustovsky.

About the Author

Rebecca Jane Stanton is an assistant professor of Russian at Barnard College.