Fall Reading Series: Sergei Gandlevsky’s “Illegible,” Part II

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Sergey Gandlevsky has written that his very first childhood poem, written on the occasion of the transfer to another school of the “beautiful, stern” little girl he had a crush on, seems in retrospect to be an outline of the plot of “Illegible”: “An ominous rival, a duel, the sudden death of the beloved after the passing of decades.” The motif of the duel, which appears in both “Trepanation of the Skull” and “Illegible”, signals Gandlevsky’s emotional engagement with the culture of Russia’s Golden Age—both Pushkin and Lermontov depicted duels in their work and died in duels themselves.

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Fall Reading Series: Sergei Gandlevsky’s “Illegible,” Part I

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In contemporary Russian literary life, Gandlevsky’s stature as a poet is indisputably great; he is less well known as a prose writer, although his novels and essays have been critically acclaimed. For the English-speaking reader, contemporary Russian prose has been represented mainly in its fantastic, postapocalyptic, and dystopian modes. Gandlevsky’s novels display a more restrained, historically oriented literary sensibility, one that directs loving, sometimes bitter, but always keenly perceptive attention to the late Soviet and post-Soviet experience.

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Tolstoy the Peasant: A “Myth” Revisited

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To what extent was the “myth” of Leo Tolstoy-as-peasant purveyed by Ilya Repin merely that—a myth? Was it, in fact, not a myth at all?  Tolstoy was no peasant, for sure, but the fact remains that he spent the better part of his adult life dressing like one. What was he up to?

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The State and the Human Body in Putin’s Russia: The Biopolitics of Authoritarian Revanche, Part II

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Russia’s biopolitical normalization occurs in the interstitial space between the popular sentiment of an uprooted society beset by failed transitions and halted globalization, retrograde, neo-patriarchal responses, and the deliberate strategy by authorities of using biopolitical language and interventions for social and political control. From a mere government technology detected and described by Foucault, biopower in the hands of Russia’s authoritarians spreads disruptive forces through domestic and international affairs. It is an essential part of Moscow’s twenty-first-century hybrid warfare.

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