Literature & Criticism / Russian Studies


The Cossack Hero in Russian Literature
A Study in Cultural Mythology
Judith Deutsch Kornblatt

Both wild and familiar, alien and self, the Russian Cossacks came to represent in nineteenth-century literature their nation's seemingly endless frontier, strongly influencing the self-image of the Russian people.

The Cossack Hero in Russian Literature is the first book to study the development of the Cossack hero and to identify him as part of Russian cultural mythology. Judith Kornblatt explores the power of the myth as a literary image, providing new and challenging readings of nineteenth- and twentieth-century works by Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoi, Khlebnikov, Babel, Tsvetaeva, Sholokhov, and a host of lesser-known writers, all of whom were attracted to the Cossack. By comparing the Cossack with the American cowboy, she reveals what is both unique and universal about the Russian self-image.

Grappling with the phenomenon of myth-formation, Kornblatt places the Cossack hero in historical and sociopolitical context, chronicling the growth of the Cossack myth of unbounded wholeness and life, its gradually increasing influence on the Russian national consciousness during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and its eventual demise under the strictures of Stalinist socialist realism. Kornblatt's eclectic methodology draws upon Barthes, White, Turner, and other Western theorists as well as such leading Russian critics and philosophers of language as Bakhtin, Lotman, and Uspensky.

"There are no equivalent books on the topic. Familiar works become more interesting through its lens, unknown works take on a relevance they would not otherwise have, and Kornblatt's approach to the general problem of literary influence within the Cossack Myth is both original and very well-informed. Slavists and other readers will find it provocative: a topic that we knew randomly and work by work suddenly emerges as one of those important and organic literary traditions that Russian culture seems to generate so effortlessly."—Caryl Emerson, Princeton University

Judith Deutsch Kornblatt is professor and associate chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature and associate dean for Arts and Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the coediter of Russian Religious Thought, and author of Doubly Chosen also published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

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the cover of The Cossack Hero is illustrated with a painting of Cossacks brawling. It is in tones of black and light red.

BACK IN PRINT in paperback
Available now

January 1992
LC: 92-050254 PG
244 pp. 6 x 9 2 photos, 1 map
ISBN-10: 0-299-13520-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-299-13520-1
Cloth $38.95 s
Limited copies remaining of cloth edition
ISBN-10: 0-299-13524-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-299-13524-9
Paper $19.95 s

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