This book considers Russian, Czech and Slovak fiction in the late communist and early post-communist periods. It focuses on the most innovative trend to emerge in this period, on those writers who, during and after the collapse of communism, characterised themselves as 'liberators' of literature. It shows how these writers in their fiction and critical work reacted against the politicisation of literature by Marxist-Leninist and dissident ideologues, rejecting the conventional perception of literature as moral teacher, and redefining the nature and purpose of writing. The book demonstrates how this quest, enacted in the works of these writers, served for many critics and readers as a metaphor for the wider disorientation and crisis precipitated by the collapse of communism.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Author's Note Introduction 1. The Fiction of the Changes: Context and Reception 2. Deaths of Authors: Venedikt Erofeev, Bohumil Hrabal, Pavel Vilikovský 3. Giving a Shape to One's Fate: Evgenii Popov, Petr Placák, Peter Pist'anek 4. The Subversion of Realism: Aleksandr Ivanchenko, Tat'iana Tolstaia, Dusan Mitana 5. Writing as Being: Jirí Kratochvil, Zuzana Brabcová, Daniela Hodrová, Michal Ajvaz, Jáchym Topol 6. Empty Words: Vladimir Sorokin, Ján Litvák, Ivan Kolenic 7. Learning to Live With Emptiness: Viktor Pelevin, Václav Kahuda, Vlado Balla Conclusion: To Speak or Not to Speak Endnotes Bibliography
Rajendra A. Chitnis studied at the University of Sheffield and at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, from which he received his PhD in 2003. Since 1999 he has held the post of lecturer in Russian and Czech Studies at the University of Bristol. His current research includes analysis of works by Tolstaia, Sorokin and Pelevin, Hrabal, Hodrová and Kahuda, and Vilikovský, Pi¹»anek and Balla. Alongside research into nineteenth- and twentieth-century Czech fiction, he is also interested in the development of learning materials for the study of Czech language and culture.
'We have a book here which offers valuable insights into an analysis of three literatures as they have evolved over the first decade following the collapse of Communism.' - MLR
One of the strengths of this work lies in its comparative nature. It does not treat Czech and Slovak writers as mere material for comparison: It presents them as full-fledged players… The study has two more great strengths. The first, though merely technical, is not to be taken lightly: the corpus of works under discussion represents a judiciously chosen reading list of the most significant fiction in the three literatures during the decade following the fall of Communism… The other strength lies in the clear, concise, but never reductionist analyses of the main contribution to the corpus. - Michael Heim, University of California, Los Angeles. Review in Slavic and East European Journal