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I need help selecting some topics for my thesis as I want to bring out something not...

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franzo | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted March 25, 2013 at 3:09 PM via web

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I need help selecting some topics for my thesis as I want to bring out something not already in the limelight from Russian/Soviet literature, some new points. So should I go for the modern Soviet writers or the old Russian writers like Chekhov or Turgenev ?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted March 30, 2013 at 9:13 PM (Answer #1)

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One way to examine something not already in the limelight is to approach a traditional question from a new angle. For instance, ever since Peter the Great remade the Russian identity in the image of European identity (a move reinforced by Catherine the Great's involvement in Western philosophy and art), it is traditionally said that Russian writers were in quest of the Russian soul. A new angle on this might be to compare a Russian writer's examination of Russian cultural identity with a Soviet writer's examination of Russian/Soviet cultural identity. Your analysis of the comparison might reveal a new look at the identity question. Note that Russian writers become Soviet writers after the Revolution of 1917.

In addition, you might add a comaprison to Chekhov. Chekhov concerned himself more with the theme of individual psychological identity than with the theme of cultural identity. Thus a comparison of individual psychological identity to cultural identity might bring new insight to the traditional question of the Russian soul. Uncle Vanya (1897) might be a good play to examine for this dual purpose: individual psychological identity compared to cultural identity.

Authors and titles you might consider for the theme of cultural identity from Russian to Soviet writer might be these:

  • Russian: Pushkin, Eugene Onegin
  • Russian: Turgenev, Fathers and Sons
  • Soviet: Buglakov, "The Heart of a Dog", Black Snow
  • Soviet: Sholokhov, And Quiet Flows the Don
  • Soviet: Zamyatin, We


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