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December 2007
280 pages  

5-1/2 x 8-1/2
9780822959816
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The Archaeology of Anxiety
The Russian Silver Age and its Legacy
Rylkova, Galina
The “Silver Age” (c. 1890-1917) has been one of the most intensely studied topics in Russian literary studies, and for years scholars have struggled with its precise definition. Firmly established in the Russian cultural psyche, it continues to influence both literature and mass media. Rylkova analyzes writings by Anna Akhmatova, Vladimir Nabokov, Boris Pasternak and Victor Erofeev to reveal how the construct of the Silver Age was perpetuated and ingrained.

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Galina Rylkova is associate professor of Russian and Slavic Studies at the University of Florida.
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The “Silver Age” (c. 1890-1917) has been one of the most intensely studied topics in Russian literary studies, and for years scholars have been struggling with its precise definition. Firmly established in the Russian cultural psyche, it continues to influence both literature and mass media. The Archaeology of Anxiety is the first extended analysis of why the Silver Age occupies such prominence in Russian collective consciousness. Galina Rylkova examines the Silver Age as a cultural construct—the byproduct of an anxiety that permeated society in reaction to the social, political, and cultural upheavals brought on by the Bolshevik Revolution, the fall of the Romanovs, the Civil War, and Stalin's Great Terror. Rylkova's astute analysis of writings by Anna Akhmatova, Vladimir Nabokov, Boris Pasternak and Victor Erofeev reveals how the construct of the Silver Age was perpetuated and ingrained. Rylkova explores not only the Silver Age's importance to Russia's cultural identity but also the sustainability of this phenomenon. In so doing, she positions the Silver Age as an essential element to Russian cultural survival.
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“The Archaeology of Anxiety is a major contribution to the study of Russian culture, offering a much-needed history not so much of the Silver Age but of the ‘Silver Age’—of the evolution of the concept and of the struggle to shape that legacy in the works of that era's survivors and heirs. Rylkova shows how the initial rejection of the Silver Age as a time of excess, experimentation, individualism, and lack of firm political purpose eventually led to the Silver Age's glorification.” --Eric Naiman, University of California at Berkeley

“Galina Rylkova uncovers the fascinating logic of myth making and fate building that many Soviets projected onto others and themselves. Her analysis is admirably comprehensive and mordantly insightful. Dealing with celebrated cultural figures in iconoclastic ways, this book will lay a foundation for the emerging field of Russian memory studies.”--Alexander Etkind, University of Cambridge

“A fascinating exploration of the Silver Age as a cultural construct created retrospectively after the Bolshevik Revolution. As Rylkova ranges across Russia's twentieth century, she recovers the evolution of cultural memory and the intimacies of writers' self-presentations with equal verve and grace.”--Michael David-Fox, University of Maryland

”Galina Rylkova’s excellent and much-needed book explores the myth of the Silver Age in Russian culture . . . fascinating . . . a work of love.”—The Russian Review

“An impressive feat in synthesizing Russian literature over the century from the 1890s to the 1990s.”—H-Net Reviews

“Convinces through the sheer breadth of sources analysed. Rylkova proceeds to demonstrate how the unique combination of a vibrant cultural legacy, combined with the loss of the environment in which it thrived, became a projection space, unprecedented in scope, for hopes, dreams and interpretations.”—Europe-Asia Studies

“A fresh perspective . . . I especially recommend it to scholars interested in the creation of historical memory.”—American Historical Review

“Thought-provoking and richly documented. A highly engaging study.”—Slavonic and East European Review


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