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The Firebird and the Fox
Russian Culture under Tsars and Bolsheviks

$39.99 (G)

  • Date Published: December 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108484466

$ 39.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • Showcasing the genius of Russian literature, art, music, and dance over a century of turmoil, within the dynamic cultural ecosystem that shaped it, The Firebird and the Fox explores the shared traditions, mutual influences and enduring themes that recur in these art forms. The book uses two emblematic characters from Russian culture - the firebird, symbol of the transcendent power of art in defiance of circumstance and the efforts of censors to contain creativity; and the fox, usually female and representing wit, cleverness and the agency of artists and everyone who triumphs over adversity - to explore how Russian cultural life changed between 1850 and 1950. Jeffrey Brooks reveals how high culture drew on folk and popular genres, then in turn influenced an expanding commercial culture. Richly illustrated, The Firebird and the Fox assuredly and imaginatively navigates the complex terrain of this eventful century.

    • Beautifully illustrated, with a colour plate section including many illustrations which have never before been republished
    • Explores how Russia moved from the periphery of European culture to the cutting edge
    • Places classic works by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Akhmatova, Malevich, Chagall, and other Russian 'greats' in their cultural context
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘Just before and after the October Revolution, the Russian literary, artistic, and performing arts enjoyed a moment of unprecedented brilliance. Brooks casts this Silver Age against the backdrop of Russia’s radical renovations in commerce, industrial economy, and social structure - the result being a rich and effervescent synthesis of cultural, material, and political enquiry.’ John E. Bowlt, University of Southern California

    ‘Brooks brings a lifetime of learning to bear in his new interpretation of Russian and Soviet culture in its most creative century. He is able to suggest how a variety of cultural fields over time grappled with the same set of recurring Russian dilemmas, distilling the powerful motifs that writers, artists, and intellectuals repeatedly embroidered into their works. No one who studies or loves Russian culture can afford to ignore this book.’ Michael David-Fox, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

    ‘An immensely enjoyable and marvelously informative book placing the visual arts within the context of wider cultural developments, illuminating inter-relationships between creative individuals working in different media, and revealing the playfulness, humor, and political dissidence of artists operating under the Tsars and the Bolsheviks. An education and a joy to read.’ Christina Lodder, University of Kent

    ‘Monumental in scope and rigor, gentle in its approach to the fragility of the new material it uncovers, and written with irresistible force and mischievous wit, Brooks demonstrates why exactly we love Russian culture and could not do without its magic.’ Inessa Medzhibovskaya, New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College

    ‘Brooks introduces the reader to wondrous dimensions of Russian cultural creativity. By breaching the distinction between low and high culture, he reveals how popular themes and imagery permeated great works of literature and the arts, leavening their serious-minded discourse with doses of magical thinking and imagination.’ Richard Wortman, Columbia University, New York

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108484466
    • length: 346 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.72kg
    • contains: 32 b/w illus. 16 colour illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    Introduction: an age of genius
    Part I. Emancipation of the Arts (1850–1889):
    1. Freedom and the fool
    2. Desire and rebellion
    3. Artists and subjects
    4. Anton Chekhov in his time
    5. The writer as civic actor
    Part II. Politics and the Arts (1890–1916):
    6. After realism: art and authority
    7. The performing arts: Diaghilev's Ballets Russes
    8. Celebrity, humor, and the avant-garde
    Part III. The Bolshevik Revolution and the Arts (1917–1950):
    9. A new normal
    10. Irony and power
    11. An era of the fox
    12. Goodness endures

  • Author

    Jeffrey Brooks, The Johns Hopkins University, Maryland
    Jeffrey Brooks is Professor in the Department of History at The Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of When Russia Learned to Read (1985), which was awarded the 1986 Wayne S. Vucinich Prize, Thank You, Comrade Stalin (1999), and Lenin and the Making of the Soviet State (2006), with Georgiy Chernyavskiy.

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