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“Vo Glubine Sibirskikh Rud”: Siberia and the Myth of Exile

  • Harriet Murav

Abstract

Siberia in the nineteenth-century Russian literary imagination is in large part shaped by the historical reality of imprisonment and exile. The image of Siberia as a place of punishment appears in works by and about the Decembrists, in the writings of political prisoners and exiles from the middle and later parts of the century—for example—Dostoevsky and Korolenko, and in such travelogues as Chekhov’s “Iz Sibiri” (“From Siberia”). But at the same time, Siberia serves as a blank slate for European Russians, who inscribe it with many different visions of themselves and their culture. These representations of Siberia reflect the major currents of Russian literature and thought of the time.

Keywords

Russian Literature Historical Reality Political Prisoner Blank Slate Prison Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    For an encyclopedic discussion of the literature of Siberia in the nineteenth century that includes both European Russian and regional writers, see M. K. Azadovskii, Ocherki literatury i kul’ tury Sibiri (Irkutsk: Vostochno-Sibirskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 1948), andGoogle Scholar
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    M. S. Lunin, Pis’ma iz Sibiri (Moscow: Nauka, 1987), p. 163.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    See M. A. Briskman, “Liricheskii geroi Dekabristskoi poezii perioda katorgi i ssylki,” in B. S. Meilakh, ed., Dekabristy i russkaia kul’tura (Leningrad: Nauka, 1975), p. 169.Google Scholar
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    L. Ia. Ginzburg describes the unity of rationalism and the “heroic, chosen personality.” See Ginzburg, O lirike, cited in Briskman, “Liricheskii geroi,” p. 169. For more on the correspondence between the hero’s emotional state and the Siberian landscape, see N. N. Kudrina, “U istokov poetiki Sibirskogo peizazha v russkom romantizme,” in L. P. Iakimova, ed., Literatur a Sibiri. Istorila i sovremennost’ (Novosibirsk: Nauka, 1984), p. 34.Google Scholar
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    See L. N. Pushkarev, “Podvig dekabristok v osveshchenii poeta i istorika,” in A. N. Kopylov, ed., Dekabristy i Sibir’ (Novosibirsk: Nauka, 1977), p. 223.Google Scholar
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    F. M. Dostoevsky, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v tridtsati tomakh (Leningrad: Nauka, 1972-), vol. 4, p. 22.Google Scholar
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    For more on this aspect of Dostoevsky’s Siberian writings, see Harriet Murav, “Dostoevsky in Siberia: Remembering the Past,” Slavic Review 50, no. 4 (Winter 1991): 858–866. See alsoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. James L. Rice, “Psychoanalysis of ‘Peasant Marei’: Some Residual Problems,” in D. Rancour-Laferriere, ed., Russian Literature and Psychoanalysis (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1989), pp. 245–261. Joseph Frank discusses the problem of conversion in his Dostoevsky: The Years of Ordeal (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983), pp. 116–127. Robert Louis Jackson sees the crucial ingredient of Dostoevsky’s Siberian experience as the development of his artistic vision. See his “The Triple Vision: ‘The Peasant Marei’,” Yale Review (Winter 1978): 225–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    V. K. Kiukhel’beker, Sochineniia (Leningrad: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1989).Google Scholar
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    V. G. Korolenko, Sobranie sochinenii v desiati tomakh (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo khudozhestvennoi literatury, 1953), vol. 1, pp. 131–132.Google Scholar
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    For texts and a general discussion of this tradition, see V. P. Adrianova-Peretts, ed., Russkaia demokraticheskaia satira XVII veka (Moscow: Nauka, 1977).Google Scholar
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    A. P. Chekhov, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem v tridtsati tomakh (Moscow: Nauka, 1978), vol. 1, p. 25.Google Scholar
  25. 52.
    In Ostrov Sakhalin, however, the theme of hell is, arguably, central. See, for example, M. L. Semanova, “Rabota nad ocherkovoi knigoi,” in L. D. Opul’skaia, ed., V tvorcheskoi laboratorii Chekhova (Moscow: Nauka, 1974), p. 125.Google Scholar

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© Galya Diment and Yuri Slezkine 1993

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  • Harriet Murav

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