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‘An Author of a Different Kind’: Alexei Pisemskii’s Meta-Realist Narrator’,

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Abstract

The article examines the construction and narrative performance of the author-personae in Alexei Pisemskii’s novel Vzbalamuchennoe more [Troubled Seas] (1863). Pisemskii enjoyed immense popularity in his own time and won his place in the literary canon because of his talent for naturalist descriptions of scenes from contemporary life. In Vzbalamuchennoe more, however, the polemic thrust of an ostensibly realist narrative is interspersed with reflections on the nature of literary authorship and even features a narrator who enters his own story and converses with his fictional characters.
In this article, I offer a close reading of Pisemskii’s enquiries into the nature of fiction and authorship, analysing them in the context of his understanding of literary Realism as an aesthetic system. Subverting an established literary tradition of omniscience, Vzbalamuchennoe more’s maverick narrator fashions an image of an author that would not be out of place in a Romantic text of one hundred years earlier or a post-modernist meta-novel one hundred years later. Its appearance in the 1860s remains a curious phenomenon that challenges our assumptions about the nature of the Russian Realist tradition and its ideas about literary authorship, as well the issues of public reception of different kinds of authorial figures.
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Original languageEnglish
JournalForum for Modern Language Studies
VolumeJuly 2018
StateAccepted/In press - Jul 2018

    Research areas

  • Authorship, Narratology, Metafiction, Realism, Alexei Pisemskii

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