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Phantoms of a Future Past: A Study of Contemporary Russian Anti-Utopian Novels
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this dissertation is to study the evolution of the Russian anti-utopian literary genre in the new post-Soviet environment in the wake of the defunct Soviet socialist utopia. The genre has gained a renewed importance during the 2000s, and has been used variously as a means of dealing satirically with the Soviet past, of understanding the present, and of pondering possible courses into the future for the Russian Federation. A guiding question in this study is: What makes us recognize a novel as anti-utopian at a time when the idea of utopia may appear obsolete, when the hegemony of nation states has been challenged for several decades, and when art has been drawn towards the aesthetics of hybridity? The main part of the dissertation is comprised of detailed analyses of three novels: The Slynx (Kys', 2001) by Tatyana Tolstaya; Homo Zapiens/Babylon (Generation ‘P’, 1999) by Viktor Pelevin; and Ice Trilogy (Ledianaia Trilogiia, 2002−2005) by Vladimir Sorokin. The further development of the genre is subsequently discussed on the basis of seven novels published in the past decade.

A main argument in the dissertation is that the genre has been modified in ways which can be seen as a response to social and political changes on a global scale. The waning power of the nation state, in particular, and its broken monopoly as the bearer of social projects marks a new context, which is not shared by the classic works of the genre. Analysis of this evolution in post-Soviet anti-utopian novels draws on sociological as well as literary studies.

The dissertation shows how the analysed novels use the possibilities of the genre to problematize various forms of societal discourse, and how these discourses work as mutations of utopia. Prominent among these are historical discourses, which reflect the increasing importance of historical narratives in public political debates in the Russian Federation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2014. , 173 p.
Stockholm studies in Russian literature, ISSN 0346-8496 ; 43
Keyword [en]
Russian literature, utopia, anti-utopia, dystopia, metanarrative, satire, parody, Tatyana Tolstaya, Viktor Pelevin, Vladimir Sorokin. Russia, Russian Federation
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Slavic Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108169ISBN: 978-91-981947-3-9ISBN: 978-91-981947-2-2OAI: diva2:755072
Public defence
2014-11-29, hörsal 9, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2014-11-06 Created: 2014-10-13 Last updated: 2016-05-27Bibliographically approved

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