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Post-Soviet Russian Literature, Part 1
July 27, 2015 15:18

Post-Soviet literature dissolved borders and swept away the division into emigrant literature and literature of the mother country: not only emigrant writers regularly visit Russia, where their books are published in quite large-scale circulations, but periodicals (for example, The Continent) also came to be issued in Russia after 1991. However, it has got some other partitions.
Post-Soviet literature consists of writers and literary groups that profess principles, which are different and contrasting, sometimes even to the extent of opposition. They are:
1) Popular trade books with blossoming of the genres of modern social problem detective (Alexandra Marinina), pseudohistorical detective (Boris Akunin with his series of books about the detective Fandorin and the nun Pelagia), political detective (Lev Gursky and Eduard Topol), thriller (Victor Dotsenko), fantasy fiction (Nick Perumov), romance novel, etc.;

2) Highbrow literature represented by prose writers and poets of several generations, from Aleksander Solzhenitsyn to Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, Vladimir Makanin, Oleg Chukhontsev, Maxim Amelin, and others. It falls into trends of Realism, Postmodernism, Conceptualism, Sots Art (short for Socialist Art), and Neo Baroque (Andrey Bitov, Sasha Sokolov, Tatyana Tolstaya, Dmitry Galkovsky, etc);

3) Belles letters, with Lyudmila Ulitskaya as the most successful author.

The realistic tradition is carried on with Neonaturalism ("new feminine prose" by Svetlana Vasilenko, Nina Gorlanova, and Marina Paley, Nikolay Kolyada's drama and "seamy side" in Sergey Kaledin's prose), Neosentimentalism (Alexey Slapovsky, Marina Vishnevetskaya) interfaced to Post-Realism developing as a new art system (for example, New Autobiographism of the plays and prose by Yevgeniy Grishkovets),  New Realism of the younger generation (Oleg Pavlov, Roman Senchin, and Sergey Shargunov), and Hyper Naturalism of the new Russian drama (Mikhail Ugarov, the Presnyakov Brothers, etc.)

Postmodernism leapt from marginal status into the rank of actual and (or) fashionable literature in the 1990s. Literature that carried on classical traditions was forced out by mainstream culture, on the one hand, and post-modernist literature on the other. The latter one adheres to the principle of non-separating “the admass” and “the elite” (Grigory Chkhartishvili’s project ‘B. Akunin’).

Ideological opposition was replaced with deideologization, i.e. stripping of any ideological bias. Ideological and political debate, that literature used to be a subject and a pretext for, was replaced with literary discourse. The foundation to aesthetic polemics was laid by Victor Yerofeyev's article Commemoration of Soviet Literature, which dissociated “new wave” (alternative, different, etc.) literature from three streams of the Soviet literature: official, liberal and ‘village’ ones. 


Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian Literature Contemporary Writers Russian Writers Postmodernism  

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