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2. Golden Silences in the Golden Age: Russian Anxieties of the Body and Sexuality from Gogol to Chekhov

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Chapter Summary

The authors chosen for this chapter-Nikolai Gogol, Anton Chekhov and others-are still generally hailed as great Russian humanists and exemplars of Russian culture. The chapter discusses discuss briefly the need to be seen as examples of what Russian writers and thinkers may have faced when they tried to express certain domains of experience. It turns its attention to Nikolai Leskov whose prose may represent a more liberal treatment of carnality and eroticism in Russian literature, expanding on those few moments in the work of Aleksandr Pushkin and his Golden Age coevals. The chapter exemplifies how their works prepared the way for the nascent erotic sensitivity of the Silver Age. The chapter addresses these passages by eliding the differences among what in the West might be different discourses (eroticism, carnality, corporeality, and sex), because in nineteenth-century Russia, these discourses remained very close to each other, almost as overtly experimental discourses.

Keywords:Anton Chekhov; golden silences; Nikolai Gogol; Russian culture; sexuality



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