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Authors: Jacobson, Alexander Leaff
Advisors: Wachtel, Michael
Contributors: Slavic Languages and Literatures Department
Keywords: Book studies
Soviet book
Soviet publishing
Subjects: Slavic literature
Russian history
Mass communication
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: My dissertation represents an original approach to Russian literary history by demonstrating the extent that Russian literature has been inflected by bibliographic frames. Though book history is a relatively mature field, it is largely non-existent in Slavic studies; existing Western scholarship, while helpful, is inadequate for comprehending the idiosyncratic nature of the Russian book. To appreciate the complexity of the issues involved, I analyze mid-century Soviet and tamizdat publications (volumes produced in the West intended to be smuggled into the USSR), which, while ideologically opposed, are strikingly similar in their assumptions about a book’s structure and function. I distinguish between a book (the physical object) and a text (the actual words in a book). Tamizdat constitutes an attempt to sever books from texts, to disguise subversive content. Conversely, Soviet publishers, forced by economic pressures to produce editions of classical Russian and even Western literature en masse, framed non-Soviet works as communist parables, positioning texts, paratexts, and book forms to create the illusion of Soviet — or proto-Soviet — dogma. Despite these differences, tamizdat and Soviet publishers were bound by a common logic. Both pursued political ends (wooing of elites or indoctrination of the masses) by distorting literature through media manipulation. Chapter one develops a conception of the “tamizdat-work,” the book form that I ascribe to this movement. Chapter two develops a taxonomy of this form and demonstrates the extreme diversity found in tamizdat publications. Chapter three shifts to the Soviet Union, demonstrating that economic and political pressures forced Soviet publishers to frame non-Soviet literature as deeply communist texts. Finally, chapter four describes the means by which Soviet publishers achieved this goal, through the use of their own elaborate book form combining careful paratexts with elaborate physical forms.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Slavic Languages and Literatures

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