The Symphonies are quintessential works of modernist innovation in which Bely developed an evocative mythology and distinctive aesthetics. Influenced by Russian symbolism, Bely believed that the role of modern artists was to imbue seemingly small details with cosmic significance. The Symphonies depict the drabness of daily life with distinct irony and satire—and then soar out of turn-of-the-century Moscow into the realm of the infinite and eternal. They conjure worlds that resemble our own but reveal elements of artifice and magic, hinting at mystical truths and the complete transfiguration of life. Showcasing the protean quality of Bely’s language and storytelling, Jonathan Stone’s translation of the Symphonies features some of the most captivating and beguiling writing of Russia’s Silver Age.
Decadence and Modernism in European and Russian Literature and Culture: Aesthetics and Anxiety in the 1890s rewrites the story of early modernist literature and culture by drawing out the tensions underlying its simultaneous engagement with Decadence and Symbolism, the unsustainable combination of this world and the other. With a broadly framed literary and cultural approach, Jonathan Stone examinesa shift in perspective that explodes the notion of reality and showcases the uneasy relationship between the tangible and intangible aspects of the surrounding world. Modernism quenches a growing fascination with the ephemeral and that which cannot be seen while also doubling down on the significance of the material world and finding profound meaning in the physical and the corporeal. Decadence and Symbolism complement the broader historical trajectory of the fin de siècle by affirming the novelty of a modernist mindset and offering an alternative to the empirical and positivistic atmosphere of the nineteenth century. Stone seeks to recreate a significant historical and cultural moment in the development of modernity, a moment that embraces the concept of Decadence while repurposing its aesthetic and social import to help navigate the fundamental changes that accompanied the dawn of the twentieth century.
The Institutions of Russian Modernismilluminates the key role of Symbolism as the earliest form of modernism in Russia. Combining book history, periodical studies, and reception theory, Jonathan Stone examines the poetry and theory of Russian Symbolism within the framework of the institutions that organized, published, and disseminated the works to Russian readers. Stone’s study begins with the growth of Russian Symbolism into a unified concept. He identifies its first appearances in Russia and the means by which it became established in the Russian mindset and press, elucidating the critical contributions of mediating people and institutions to the movement’s success. He also explores factors in Russia that enabled or shaped the rise of Symbolism, such as commercial printing, distribution networks, and other technological and material developments.
Surveying a wealth of examples of Symbolist journals, almanacs, and publishing houses, Stone traces how publishers of Symbolist works presented the movement both descriptively by examples and prescriptively through explanations of its aesthetics. Stone persuasively argues that after its eclipse Symbolism’s legacy remained embedded in the heart of Russian modernism. The people, structures, and networks that came into being to support Symbolism shaped the creation, dissemination, and consumption of Russian books throughout the early twentieth century, affirming Russia’s place as a key site for the creation of modernism.
Russian literature is most celebrated for its Romantic and modernist poetry and 19th-century novels. While literary traditions of varying sorts have been part of Slavic and Russian culture for over a millennium, it is only since the 18th century that they came to resemble literature from the West. The Historical Dictionary of Russian Literaturecontains a chronology, an introductory essay, appendixes, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 100 cross-referenced entries on significant people, themes, critical issues, and the most significant genres that have formed Russian Literature. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about Russian literature.