The Most Dangerous Art

The Most Dangerous Art : Poetry, Politics, and Autobiography After the Russian Revolution

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The book shows how three of Russia's most important twentieth century poets used autobiographical prose to defend poetry and the poet in an era when poetry was under attack. It juxtaposes these autobiographies with each other and with the culturo-political events that followed Russia's 1917 October Revolution in a way that has never previously been more

Product details

  • Hardback | 238 pages
  • 154 x 228 x 18mm | 498.95g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739120832
  • 9780739120835

Review quote

The Most Dangerous Art provides a subtle and far-reaching analysis of how poetic culture engaged with political reality in the Soviet era. By focusing on the autobiographical prose of Pasternak, Mandelstam, and Tsvetaeva and by showing how the 'orientation toward authenticity' (Lydia Ginzburg) in such writing places these works and their authors at the center of a force field involving the individual, the state, and the larger human community, Donald Loewen shows once again why 'the Poet' has been such an indispensable figure, indeed perhaps the indispensable figure, in the history of Russian self-consciousness. A beautifully written and powerfully argued study. -- David M. Bethea, University of Wisconsin-Madison Recommended. -- . CHOICE, May 2008 The greatest strength of the book is its unearthing and tracking of key literary debates between these writers and their opponents within the establishment, citing reviews and articles from newspapers and journals of the time. -- Belinda Cooke Russian Review, July 2009 The Most Dangerous Art is passionately argued and very smoothly written. Slavic and East European Journal, Fall 2009 Loewen's approach in The Most Dangerous Art provides a synthesis of the familiar and the original: each chapter opens with a summary of earlier scholarship on the increasingly difficult situation for writers during the Soviet Union's first forty years, the proceeds to often passionate but informed analyses of the autobiographical works in question... The Most Dangerous Art is well organized, meticulously researched and lucidly argued... The volume makes a substantive contribution to the field and will be of particular use to emerging scholars, since it presents both the context and the impact, especialy for the poets' lives, in a single volume. -- Natasha Kolchevska, University of New Mexico Canadian Slavonic Papers, June- September 2009 After introducing their broader context, Donald Loewen studies autobiographical prose by three of the greatest Russian poets: Mandelshtam, Pasternak, and Tsvetaeva. Loewen brings out the complexity of these documents of informed resistance. The Most Dangerous Art offers important insights for readers who care about the relationship of poetry and prose, literature and politics, creativity and oppression in an era when poetry was a matter of life and death-dangerous stuff indeed. -- Sibelan Forrester, Swarthmore College Loewen puts together a formidable account in one volume, and the poets' defense of their vocation, as well as their own eventual neglect of the practical rules of self-preservation, are dutifully documented and retold...Loewen's efforts are credible and painstaking...he presents a clear and powerful introduction to one of the largest chapters in the literary history of the twentieth century and crystallizes a topic that remains a cornerstone in the landscape on conscience. Slavic Review, July 2010show more

About Donald Loewen

Donald Loewen is associate professor of Russian at Binghamton University (SUNY).show more

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Endangered Genre, Endangered Artist Chapter 2 Early Warning Signs Chapter 3 The Search for Safe Passage Chapter 4 Fighting for Breath Chapter 5 The Poet's Birthright Chapter 6 A Survivor's Storyshow more