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Reading Backwards: An Advance Retrospective on Russian Literature

Reading Backwards: An Advance Retrospective on Russian Literature Muireann Maguire and Timothy Langen (eds)

This book outlines with theoretical and literary historical rigor a highly innovative approach to the writing of Russian literary history and to the reading of canonical Russian texts.  "Anticipatory plagiarism” is a concept developed by the French Oulipo group, but it has never to my knowledge been explored with reference to Russian studies.  The editors and contributors to the proposed volume – a blend of senior and beginning scholars, Russians and non-Russians – offer a set of essays on Gogol, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy which provocatively test the utility of AP as a critical tool, relating these canonical authors to more recent instances, some of them decidedly non-canonical.  The senior scholars who are the editors and most of the contributors are truly distinguished.  The volume is likely to receive serious attention and to be widely read.  I recommend it with unqualified enthusiasm.  
    William Mills Todd III, Harry Tuchman Levin Professor of Literature, Harvard University

As the founder of the notion of "plagiarism by anticipation", which was stolen from me in the sixties by fellow colleagues, I am delighted to learn that my modest contribution to literary theory will be used to better understand the interplay of interferences in Russian literature. Indeed, one would have to be naive to think that the great Russian authors would have invented everything. In fact, they were able to draw their ideas from their predecessors, but also from their successors, testifying to the open-mindedness that characterizes the Slavic soul. This book restores the truth.
Pierre Bayard, Professor of Literature, University of Paris 8

This edited volume employs the paradoxical notion of ‘anticipatory plagiarism’—developed in the 1960s by the ‘Oulipo’ group of French writers and thinkers—as a mode for reading Russian literature. Reversing established critical approaches to the canon and literary influence, its contributors ask us to consider how reading against linear chronologies can elicit fascinating new patterns and perspectives.

Reading Backwards: An Advance Retrospective on Russian Literature re-assesses three major nineteenth-century authors—Gogol, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy—either in terms of previous writers and artists who plagiarized them (such as Raphael, Homer, or Hall Caine), or of their own depredations against later writers (from J.M. Coetzee to Liudmila Petrushevskaia).

Far from suggesting that past authors literally stole from their descendants, these engaging essays, contributed by both early-career and senior scholars of Russian and comparative literature, encourage us to identify the contingent and familiar within classic texts. By moving beyond rigid notions of cultural heritage and literary canons, they demonstrate that inspiration is cyclical, influence can flow in multiple directions, and no idea is ever truly original.

This book will be of great value to literary scholars and students working in Russian Studies. The introductory discussion of the origins and context of ‘plagiarism by anticipation’, alongside varied applications of the concept, will also be of interest to those working in the wider fields of comparative literature, reception studies, and translation studies.

Reading Backwards: An Advance Retrospective on Russian Literature
Muireann Maguire and Timothy Langen (eds) | Forthcoming
ISBN Paperback: 9781800641198
ISBN Hardback: 9781800641204
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781800641211
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781800641228
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781800641235
ISBN Digital (XML): 9781800641242
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0241
Categories: BIC: DS (Literature: History and Criticism), 1DVUA (Russia),  HBJ (Regional and National History); BISAC: LCO000000 (LITERARY COLLECTIONS / General), LCO008010 (LITERARY COLLECTIONS / European / Eastern (see also Russian & Former Soviet Union),  LIT004240 (LITERARY CRITICISM / Russian & Former Soviet Union).