Book Cover

Russian Grotesque Realism

The Great Reforms and the Gentry Decline

Ani Kokobobo

6 x 9, 186 pp.

Pub Date: February, 2018

Subjects: Slavic Literary Studies

order Hardcover $64.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1363-6
Order Paperback $29.95   ISBN 978-0-8142-5468-4
Order PDF ebook$24.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-7609-9

Russian Grotesque Realism is a bold, original, and compelling study that offers a new category for analyzing and understanding the late nineteenth-century Russian novel.” —Valeria Sobol, author of Febris Erotica: Lovesickness in the Russian Literary Imagination

Russian Grotesque Realism: The Great Reforms and the Gentry Decline offers a comprehensive reevaluation of the Russian realist novel and proposes that a composite style, “grotesque realism,” developed in response to social upheaval during the post-Reform era. In this compelling new study, Ani Kokobobo argues that if the realism of pre-Reform Russia could not depict socioeconomic change directly, the grotesque provided an indirect means for Russian writers to capture the instability of the times and the decline of the gentry. While realism historically represented the psychological depth of characters, the grotesque focused more on the body, materialism, and categorical confusions in order to depict characters whose humanity had eroded.

With original readings of some of Russian realism’s greatest novels, Anna KareninaDemons, and Brothers Karamazov, as well as lesser known novels like The Family Golovlev, The Precipice, Resurrection, and Cathedral FolkRussian Grotesque Realism traces the transformation of gentry representation from spiritual strivers and thinkers to more materialist beings. By the end of the nineteenth century, the gentry, originally seen as society’s preservers, were represented as grotesque, reflecting a broader societal breakdown that would eventually precipitate the end of the novel genre itself. 

Ani Kokobobo is Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Kansas.



Introduction     Making the Familiar Strange: Eliminating Gentry Privilege in Russian Grotesque Realism

Chapter 1         The Nihilist as Grotesque Other in Ivan Goncharov’s The Precipice and Nikolai Leskov’s Cathedral Folk

Chapter 2         Nihilist Monsters and the Failed Gentry Protagonist in Dostoevsky’s Demons

Chapter 3         The Gentry Heroine as Grotesque Other: Roots of Tolstoy’s Grotesque Aesthetic in Anna Karenina

Chapter 4         Grotesque Realism and the Decline of the Gentry in M. Saltykov-Shchedrin’s The Golovlev Family

Chapter 5         The Gentry Milieu as Grotesque Microcosm in Tolstoy’s Resurrection

Chapter 6         Rehabilitating All Monsters: Love and the Rehumanization of the Grotesque in The Brothers Karamazov

Conclusion      The Death of the Novel