Russia’s Last Romantic - Apollon Grigor’ev (1822-1864)

Author: Whittaker, Robert
Year:1999
Pages:540
ISBN:0-7734-7987-2
978-0-7734-7987-6
Price:299.95
This comprehensive biography brings together all available significant material on Grigor’ev’s life and times to provide a thorough, unified historical description and analysis of his criticism, poetry and prose. It is based on previously unknown material, on his major works presented in the context of his entire opus, and on a number of unpublished writings, principally his letters. Appended is a complete listing of his writings, including letters, and of works about him. Grigor’ev was the foremost conservative literary critic of his age and is considered by many to be the greatest Russian critic of the 19th century. His poetry and literary theory anticipated traits of the Russian symbolists, who held him in high regard.

Reviews

“Only a handful of scholarly publications and Ralph Matlaw’s translation of Grigor’ev’s My Literary and Moral Wanderings (1962) precede this comprehensive critical biography of the Russian critic and poet…. Whittaker traces Grigor’ev’s evolving reputation over the past century, and he summarizes in detail poems, reviews, literary theories, and endless arguments with other critics… Graduate students, researchers, faculty.” - CHOICE “Robert Whittaker tells us in his Foreword that he has worked on this book for 35 years: the result is indeed a monumental study, in fact the first in-depth monograph, on the prose-writer, poet and critic Apollon Grigor’ev, who was undervalued, if not despised, by subsequent realist and Socialist Realist critics…. Whittaker provides a chronological list of Grigor’ev’s published works containing 625 items…. a very impressive biography.” – Forum for Modern Language Studies (Oxford Academic Journals)

“Robert Whittaker tells us in his Foreword that he has worked on this book for 35 years: the result is indeed a monumental study, in fact the first in-depth monograph, on the prose-writer, poet and critic Apollon Grigor’ev, who was undervalued, if not despised, by subsequent realist and Socialist Realist critics…. Whittaker provides a chronological list of Grigor’ev’s published works containing 625 items…. a very impressive biography.” – Forum for Modern Language Studies (Oxford Academic Journals)

“Brought out in sharp relief are both unique personal traits as well as traits of the times, i.e. details of the historico-cultural atmosphere of the mid-nineteenth century, and sharp national traits, for Grigor’ev was a typical Russian. Those who surrounded Grigor’ev are well presented – his friends, the women whom he passionately loved, the world of writers and journals. R. Whittaker’s book will be interesting and useful for all who study Russian humane culture of the nineteenth century. It is a pleasure to see the book supplied with a robust reference apparatus: a comprehensive bibliography of Grigor’ev’s works and literature about him, and an index. I heartily recommend this work to the reader.” B. F. Egorov, St. Petersburg, Russia

“In the last thirty years the legacy of Apollon Grigor’ev attracted much attention of the scholars. Robert Whittaker was a pioneer of these studies; he spent many years in the Russian archives and the libraries searching for the unpublished materials that would help to shed a new light . . . Today we see the result of this selfless labor – a first capital and fully documented biography of Apollon Grigor’ev that covers all available sources. The tragic destiny of ‘Russia’s last Romantic,’ as Grigor’ev called himself, is put in relief against the vast historical background, carefully recreated by the author. . . . The quest for historical and personal coherency, successfully attempted by the author . . . leads to the creation of continuity between the individual destiny and the development of Russia’s intellectual history in the second half of the nineteenth century. Robert Whittaker’s book is indispensable for all the scholars of Russian literature. The abundance of unpublished archival materials, the detailed analysis of the main intellectual discussions make it an important contribution to the studies of nineteenth-century Russian culture.” – Prof. Alexander Ospovat, University of California, Los Angeles

“Having devoted over three decades to the primary, first-hand research of Apollon Grigor’ev’s life and writings, the American scholar illustrates how this often misunderstood and generally unappreciated Russian man of letters stands as a mentor to the giants of Russian and world literature. Anyone interested in tracing down the roots of key ideas permeating The Diary of a Superfluous Man and Nest of Gentlefolk, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, Notes from Underground and The Brothers Karamazov should look to Robert Whittaker’s work – the first and still the only comprehensive book length treatment of one of the last genuine Russian romantics who in one way or another served as a catalyst for these great works. “- Prof. Dmitry Urnov, Nassau Community College

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Foreword, Preface, Introduction
1. Childhood and the ”Skital’chestva”
2. The thirties: Moscow University
3. The poetry of egoism, mysticism and civic protest
4. The forties: criticism
5. The “young editors” of the Moskvitjanin
6. Moscow criticism
7. The Moscow lyrics
8. From Moscow to Petersburg via Italy
9. Petersburg “organicism”
10. Orenburg, Vremja, and pochvennichestvo
11. Jakor’ : an anchor
12. Fedor Dosteovskij and Èpoxa
13. After the last romantic: image and impact
Bibliography; Index