Academic Commons

Theses Doctoral

Noble Farmers: The Provincial Landowner in the Russian Cultural Imagination

Grigoryan, Bella

This dissertation examines a selectively multi-generic set of texts (mainstream periodicals, advice literature and fiction) that responded to a cultural need to provide normative models for the Russian nobleman's domestic life and self, following the 1762 Manifesto that freed the gentry from obligatory state service. The material suggests that a prominent strain in the Russian novelistic tradition that took the provincial landowner as a central object of representation developed in the course of a series of encounters between prescriptive and creative literatures. In chapter one, the cross-pollination between generically diverse segments of late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century print culture (namely, Andrei Bolotov's agricultural advice and Nikolai Novikov's satirical and Nikolai Karamzin's mainstream journalism) is read as crucial for the formation of a proto-novelistic prose idiom for the representation of the nobleman in the provinces. In chapter two, the growing professionalization and concomitant commercialization of Russian letters is treated as a prominent factor in the polemical relations between Faddei Bulgarin and Nikolai Gogol. I suggest that prescriptive literature about farming and journalistic responses to it are a significant component in the intertextual links between Bulgarin's Ivan Vyzhigin and Gogol's Dead Souls. In chapter three, Ivan Goncharov's oeuvre is read as a self-conscious attempt to arrive at the novelistic representation of a successful province-bound nobleman. His novelistic trilogy--A Common Story (Obyknovennaia istoriia), Oblomov and The Precipice (Obryv)--is situated vis-à-vis a growing corpus of Russian domestic advice literature to suggest that Goncharov's prose re-works the extra-literary material. In broad terms, the study may be viewed in two, mutually supplementary, ways as (1) a "thick description" of three moments in the formation of novelistic gentry selves understood to be always in dialogue with prescriptive texts that sought to provide a normative discourse about a productive noble private life in the provinces and (2) a re-appraisal of writers long considered central to the establishment of the Russian novelistic tradition, with especially close attention paid to how these foundational figures navigated a multi-generic field of cultural production.

Files

  • thumnail for Grigoryan_columbia_0054D_10060.pdf Grigoryan_columbia_0054D_10060.pdf application/pdf 2.28 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Slavic Languages and Literatures
Thesis Advisors
Reyfman, Irina
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
March 1, 2013
Academic Commons provides global access to research and scholarship produced at Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary. Academic Commons is managed by the Columbia University Libraries.