New Literary Observer

Russia

Franco Moretti’s seminal collection ‘Distant Reading’ set out his famous quantitative approach to literary criticism and was a key contribution to the emergent field of digital humanities. Moretti’s interest in the ‘big questions’ of literary evolution, literary form and narrative universals was shared and significantly influenced by early twentieth-century Russian Formalism, writes Jessica Merrill.

Modernity in eastern Europe tends to be seen either as the partial opening up of a region characterized by traditional forms of societal self-understanding, or as a disfigured and radicalized adaptation of western modernity that prioritizes closure. Paul Blokker, in an article focusing on Czechoslovakia, Romania, Poland and Hungary, argues that both views need to be combined.

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For Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, modernism was a sinister force, especially in Russia, where it foretold “the most physically destructive revolution of the twentieth century”. Richard Tempest explores Solzhenitsyn’s overt and covert (dis)engagement with Russian and European modernism, arguing that he employed modernist means to achieve anti-modernist ends.