Chernyshevsky and the Age of Realism: A Study in the Semiotics of Behavior by Irina Paperno

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Author
Irina Paperno
Publisher
Stanford University Press
Date of release
Pages
316
ISBN
9780804714532
Binding
Hardcover
Illustrations
Format
PDF, EPUB, MOBI, TXT, DOC
Rating
5
74

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Chernyshevsky and the Age of Realism: A Study in the Semiotics of Behavior

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Book review

Nikolai Chernyshevsky (1828-1889) is a figure of monumental importance in Russian literature and culture. An influential journalist and literary critic, a theoretician of the aesthetic relations of art to reality, and a prominent political activist, Chernyshevsky is the author of What Is to Be Done? (1863), the novel that has had the greatest impact on human lives in the history of Russian literature. This book approaches culture from a semiotic perspective, seeing it as a language that organizes human behaviour. But the author takes a direction quite different from that of semiotic work: rather than solely emphasize how the code shapes individuals, she also explores how individuals can influence the cultural code. Through an examination of Chernyshevsky's life and works, the author traces the transformation of personal experience into literary structure, then, in reverse, the work's ensuing influence in structuring the experience and behaviour of others. Exploring Chernyshevsky's role in the crucial cultural developments of the 1860s, the author discusses such issues as the disintegration of the Romantic tradition and the rise of realism, the emergence of the non-noble intelligentsia, the rise of positivism and atheism, and the women's liberation movement. She shows how Chernyshevsky achieved a unique integration of diverse traditions that stood as a compelling model for others in this time.<


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