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Catalog Archive / Spring 2023

Legacies of the Stone Guest
The Don Juan Legend in Russian Literature

Publications of the Wisconsin Center for Pushkin Studies
David M. Bethea, Series Editor

“This clearly framed, beautifully written study offers insightful new perspectives on Pushkin and the writers who derived creative energy from his Stone Guest. Illuminating cultural, social, and political changes in Russia from a novel perspective, Burry takes the reader on an invigorating exploration of the Don Juan legend in its Russian instantiations.”
—Olga Peters Hasty, Princeton University

How Pushkin’s fictional libertine had an outsized influence on Russian writers and artists

The story of Don Juan first appeared in writing in seventeenth-century Spain, reaching Russia about a century later. Its real impact, however, was delayed until Russia’s most famous poet, Alexander Pushkin, put his own, unique, and uniquely inspirational, spin on the tale. Published in 1830, The Stone Guest is now recognized, with other Pushkin masterpieces, as part of the Russian literary canon. Alexander Burry traces the influence of Pushkin’s brilliant innovations to the legend, which he shows have proven repeatedly fruitful through successive ages of Russian literature, from the Realist to the Silver Age, Soviet, and contemporary periods. Burry shows that, rather than creating a simple retelling of an originally religious tale about a sinful, consummate seducer, Pushkin offered open-ended scenes, re-envisioned and complicated characters, and new motifs that became recursive and productive parts of Russian literature, in ways that even Pushkin himself could never have predicted.


Alexander Burry. Photo credit, Name. Alexander Burry, an associate professor of Slavic and East European languages and cultures at The Ohio State University, is also the author of Multi-mediated Dostoevsky: Transposing Novels into Opera, Film, and Drama.




“Alexander Burry shows Pushkin’s version of the Don Juan story as a decisive inspiration for later Russian writers. They picked up where Pushkin left off, often trying to resolve questions that he left productively open. Deeply researched and lucidly written, this study proves that, yet again, tracing the afterlife of a Pushkin text can be revelatory.”
—Stephanie Sandler, Harvard University

“The methodical literary analysis illuminates an overlooked strand in the fiction of the Russian greats. . . . This should pique the interest of Russian literature specialists.”
Publishers Weekly

“Engaging. . . . Written in a very readable and accessible style, Burry’s book offers a wealth of interesting information about some lesser-known works, and it also compels us to look at some of the most canonical and familiar texts of Russian literature with fresh eyes.”
The Russian Review

“Endeavors, first, to set Pushkin’s Don Juan apart from many other important iterations and, next, to trace the impact of Pushkin’s play on the subsequent 200 years of Russian belles lettres. It is a monumental task. Burry not only handles it admirably, but he does so by drawing out two especially potent themes unique to Pushkin’s Don Juan that remain very topical today. . . . A must read for students of the Russian literary tradition.”



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Table of Contents


Introduction: Don Juan in Western Europe and Russia
1 The Artist-Seducer as Liberator: Pushkin’s Stone Guest
2 Don Juan in Everyday Life: The Era of Realism
3 Don Juan in the Silver Age
4 Soviet and Post-Soviet Don Juans

Works Cited


Of Related Interest

The Unlikely Futurist: Cover art of a statue of Pushkin with on arm extended to his side. He is standing in a tunnel made fro, repeating circular beams. The entire image is composed in grayscale, except for the title text, which is written in striking alternating yellow and white, creating an extreme contrast.

The Unlikely Futurist
Pushkin and the Invention of Originality in Russian Modernism
James Rann

How Russia Learned to Write: Cover art of an old, discolored piece of paper with handwritten Russian scrawled across it. The title text is written in bold, dark red text.

How Russia Learned to Write
Literature and the Imperial Table of Ranks
Irina Reyfman

Book Title

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June 2023
LC: 2022033682 PG
248 pp. 6 x 9

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Cloth $99.95 S
ISBN 9780299342104
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