For Humanity's Sake: The Bildungsroman in Russian Culture

By Lina Steiner

© 2011

For Humanity's Sake is the first study in English to trace the genealogy of the classic Russian novel, from Pushkin to Tolstoy to Dostoevsky. Lina Steiner demonstrates how these writers' shared concern for individual and national education played a major role in forging a Russian cultural identity.

For Humanity's Sake highlights the role of the critic Apollon Grigor'ev, who was first to formulate the difference between Western European and Russian conceptions of national education or Bildung – which he attributed to Russia's special sociopolitical conditions, geographic breadth, and cultural heterogeneity. Steiner also shows how Grigor'ev's cultural vision served as the catalyst for the creative explosion that produced Russia's most famous novels of the 1860s and 1870s. Positing the classic Russian novel as an inheritor of the Enlightenment's key values – including humanity, self-perfection, and cross-cultural communication – For Humanity's Sake offers a unique view of Russian intellectual history and literature.

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  • Page Count: 294 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.9in x 0.7in x 8.9in
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Quick Overview

This study links the careers of Russia’s three most famous nineteenth-century authors – Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Pushkin – into a single narrative.

For Humanity's Sake: The Bildungsroman in Russian Culture

By Lina Steiner

© 2011

For Humanity's Sake is the first study in English to trace the genealogy of the classic Russian novel, from Pushkin to Tolstoy to Dostoevsky. Lina Steiner demonstrates how these writers' shared concern for individual and national education played a major role in forging a Russian cultural identity.

For Humanity's Sake highlights the role of the critic Apollon Grigor'ev, who was first to formulate the difference between Western European and Russian conceptions of national education or Bildung – which he attributed to Russia's special sociopolitical conditions, geographic breadth, and cultural heterogeneity. Steiner also shows how Grigor'ev's cultural vision served as the catalyst for the creative explosion that produced Russia's most famous novels of the 1860s and 1870s. Positing the classic Russian novel as an inheritor of the Enlightenment's key values – including humanity, self-perfection, and cross-cultural communication – For Humanity's Sake offers a unique view of Russian intellectual history and literature.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 294 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.9in x 0.7in x 8.9in
  • Reviews

    "A work of assiduous scholarship, For Humanity’s Sake makes a significant, original argument about a key aspect of the Russian novelistic tradition that has been very little addressed. Carefully argued and based on a prodigious amount of research, this book demonstrates Lina Steiner’s deeply impressive knowledge of an immense critical literature."


    Virgil Nemoianu
    The Review of Metaphysics

    "In this original and wide-ranging intellectual history, Lina Steiner situates Herder’s view of culture at the core of a tradition of personal and national character formation in Russia."


    Yuri Corrigan, The College of Wooster
    Canadian Slavonic Papers

    "Steiner demonstrates a genuine understanding of art, as well as thorough professional knowledge of cultural theory and the history of nineteenth-century Russian literature. Especially significant is Steiner’s decision, not only to consider the analyzed novels in terms of their individual literary context, but to immerse each one into the ‘turbulent sea’ of the Golden Age of Russian culture as well."


    Elena A. Krasnostchekova, University of Georgia
    Slavic Review

    "[For Humanity’s Sake]’s ideas struck me as important as well as new, and I came away with a sense of a tradition of Russian thought I had not identified as such. As a result, the three novels analyzed, and implicitly many others, acquired a new freshness. It also does not hurt that Steiner writes crisp, lucid prose, free of jargon or clotted syntax. […] We never doubt why a set of facts or interpretations is offered."


    Gary Saul Morson, Northwestern University
    Slavic and East European Journal

    "Studies that place Russian intellectual history in both a Russian and non-Russian philosophical context are few and far between. This volume does that and so is an especially welcome and necessary addition to the body of criticism on the Russian nineteenth-century novel."


    A.J. DeBlasio, Dickinson College
    CHOICE Magazine

    ‘A work of assiduous scholarship, For Humanity’s Sake makes a significant, original argument about a key aspect of the Russian novelistic tradition that has been very little addressed. Carefully argued and based on a prodigious amount of research, this book demonstrates Lina Steiner’s deeply impressive knowledge of an immense critical literature.’
    Anne Lounsbery, New York University
  • Author Information

    Lina Steiner is an academic advisor attached to the Chair of Theoretical Philosophy at the Institute for Philosophy at Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universit├Ąt Bonn.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgments

    Introduction

    Part I: Culture (Obrazovanie, Bildung) and the Bildungsroman on Russian Soil

    1. Russian Literature from the National Awakening of the 1800s to the Rise of Pochvennichestvo in the 1850s

    2. Apollon Grigor'ev's Theory of Russian Culture

    3. Yurii Lotman's Idea of the “Semiosphere”

    4. The Semiospheric Novel and the Broadening of Cultural Self-Consciousness

    Part II: Nineteenth-Century Russian Novels of Emergence

    5. Pushkin's Quest for National Culture: The Captain's Daughter as a Russian Bildungsroman

    6. Educating Russia, Building Humanity: Tolstoy's War and Peace

    7. Dostoevsky on Individual Reform and National Reconciliation: The Adolescent

    Conclusion

    Appendix: The Russian Texts

    Notes

    Bibliography

    Index

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