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Russian & Slavic Studies / Literature & Criticism



Erotic Utopia
The Decadent Imagination in Russia's Fin de Siècle
Olga Matich

"No historian of literature has looked at turn-of-the-century Russia from the perspective found in Olga Matich's groundbreaking study."
—Yuri Tsivian, professor of Slavic languages & literatures, art history, and comparative literature, University of Chicago

The first generation of Russian modernists experienced a profound sense of anxiety resulting from the belief that they were living in an age of decline. What made them unique was their utopian prescription for overcoming the inevitability of decline and death, by metaphysical and physical means. They intertwined their mystical erotic discourse with European degeneration theory and its obsession with the destabilization of gender. In Erotic Utopia, Olga Matich suggests that same-sex desires underlay their most radical utopian proposal of abolishing the traditional procreative family in favor of erotically induced abstinence. The author focuses on the later works of Tolstoy, Vladimir Solov'ev, Zinaida Gippius, Alexander Blok, and Vasilii Rozanov, whose writings are situated in the Russian as well as European fin de siècle.

Olga Matich is professor of Russian literature and culture at the University of California, Berkeley.

Inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at publicity@uwpress.wisc.edu or (608) 263-0734.

cover of Matich is an illustration of an ambigeously gendered individual in turn of century clothing

April 2005
LC: 2004024547 PG
304 pp.  6 x 9 
37 b/w photos


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