Russia’s Capitalist Realism

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ISBN 978-0-8101-4250-3

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ISBN 978-0-8101-4249-7

Paper Text – $39.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-4248-0
Publication Date
October 2020
Page Count
248 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9
ISBN
0-8101-4248-1

Russia’s Capitalist Realism

Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov
Vadim Shneyder

Russia’s Capitalist Realism examines how the literary tradition that produced the great works of Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Anton Chekhov responded to the dangers and possibilities posed by Russia’s industrial revolution. During Russia’s first tumultuous transition to capitalism, social problems became issues of literary form for writers trying to make sense of economic change. The new environments created by industry, such as giant factories and mills, demanded some kind of response from writers but defied all existing forms of language.

This book recovers the rich and lively public discourse of this volatile historical period, which Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov transformed into some of the world’s greatest works of literature. Russia’s Capitalist Realism will appeal to readers interested in nineteenth-century Russian literature and history, the relationship between capitalism and literary form, and theories of the novel.

About the Author

VADIM SHNEYDER is an assistant professor in the Department of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Reviews

“It is commonplace to acknowledge, often in vague and passing terms, the rising importance of money, capitalism, and industrialization on Russian literature of the nineteenth century. Vadim Shneyder brilliantly brings the many aspects of this complex historical, political, social, and above all, economic reality to bear with stunning clarity along with important new readings of Tolstoy, Chekhov, and especially Dostoevsky, as well as a host of less-examined writers.” —Robin Feuer Miller, author of Dostoevsky’s Unfinished Journey

Russia’s Capitalist Realism represents a major contribution to the vibrant and growing body of scholarship on literature and economics. Russia’s inexorable move toward industrial capitalism in the mid-to-late nineteenth century brought on a clash in value systems, which became a central focus in the literature of the time. Beginning with the collapse of serfdom in mid-century, writers struggled to create a narrative and descriptive language adequate to reflect the dizzying changes taking place in the economy. To tell this story, Shneyder offers bracing new readings of money plots in familiar works by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov and their contemporaries. Refreshingly interdisciplinary, incisive, and highly readable, this compelling book shows literature’s enduring power to make sense of its time and place.” —Carol Apollonio, author of Dostoevsky’s Secrets: Reading Against the Grain