Esthetics as Nightmare

Esthetics as Nightmare: Russian Literary Theory, 1855-1870

Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 324
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    Esthetics as Nightmare
    Book Description:

    As an epoch of "censorship terror" drew to a close with the death of Nicholas I and the end of the Crimean War, Russian intellectuals had begun expressing their desires for political, philosophical, and religious reform through passionate debates over literature and esthetics. Charles Moser re-creates the leading controversies over literature and art during a crucial period that saw the work of such authors as Turgenev, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy. Emphasizing particularly the years from 1862 to 1870, Moser presents the doctrines of lesser known and major figures from both liberal and conservative camps, which influenced the development of Socialist Realism and Russian Formalism.

    The debates presented begin with a discussion of an essay by Nikolay Chernyshevsky, "Esthetic Relations of Art to Reality," which set the stage for the entire period. Among the many topics examined by the author are the doctrines of the radical critic Dmitry Pisarev and the writings of his opponents, such as Nikolay Solovev and Evgeny Edelson.

    Originally published in 1989.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5999-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xxii)
  5. A Note on the References
    (pp. xxiii-2)
  6. Chapter One The Disputants and Their Journals
    (pp. 3-86)

    The year 1855 was a crucial one, for russian history generally as well as for the development of Russian intellectual and literary life. Not only did that year witness the death of Nicholas I and the beginning of the reign of Alexander II; it also saw the issuance of two publications which intensified a relatively calm discussion of esthetic matters into what could be characterized as a debate or controversy over art and literature which would rage for some fifteen years before subsiding to a more reasonable level. It was no chance matter that the book which supplied the intellectual...

  7. Chapter Two Art and Rationality
    (pp. 87-149)

    The debate over literature and esthetics in Russia between 1855 and 1870 raised many issues which interwine in such complex ways that it is no easy matter to sort them out for logical analysis. But much of the discussion centered upon the large question of art and reason: what should be the place of reason, logic, understanding, and analytical knowledge in art, and particularly in works of imaginative literature? What sort of cognition should the reader expect to derive from the reading of literary works, and what intellectual approach should the writer take toward his subject?

    As a first approximation,...

  8. Chapter Three Art and Morality
    (pp. 150-217)

    Nearly all the participants in the discussion of esthetics in the 1860s were agreed that art could not be separated from some notion of morality, or at least from some ideal, whether it be an ideal of beauty, truth, or the good. Only toward the turn of the century did critics in any number begin to argue that there was no necessary linkage between art and morality, a doctrine which Konstantin Leontev almost alone preached during the 1860s. For in that decade almost everyone across the political spectrum agreed that art had a moral mission, although there was deep disagreement...

  9. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  10. Chapter Four Art and Reality
    (pp. 218-270)

    The final large question to be treated in this study is one raised by Nikolay Chernyshevsky at the very beginning of the debate over art and esthetics in 1855, an immense problem which subsumes so many others: what is the connection between art and the reality which surrounds us? That there was such a connection no one doubted, but it was a difficult matter indeed to provide a satisfactory analysis of it.

    Where Chernyshevsky had spoken of “reality” in the very title of hisEsthetic Relations, the esthetic critics preferred to view art as a reflection of “life.” Thus in...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 271-280)
  12. Index
    (pp. 281-288)