The new Russian literature emerged from trie decade of arguments on trie liberation of trie serfs, which preceded the proclamation of this reform by Alexander II in 1861. It developed at the same time with the campaign against autocracy, which would reach a climax in the “Land and Freedom” movement of the 1880s. Yet, it will be an unwarranted overestimation of literature’s influence on political decision-making to argue that the liberation of the serfs, or (a less popular claim) the subsequent assassination of the Tsar-Liberator, was brought about by writers’ efforts. The writers and poets of Pushkin’s age had, all but a few, come from the ranks of the aristocracy; it was also they who established the tradition of opposition to the regime by their support of the Decembrist revolt of 1825. As the reign of Nicholas I came to an end in 1855, the aristocratic writer had still not become a rarity in the landscape of Russian literature, but it was rare enough for him not to write critically of his own social milieu.


Chinese Literature Russian Literature Foreign Literature Chinese Writer Chinese Intellectual 
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  1. 5.
    David M. Bethea, “Literature”, in Nicholas Rzhevsky, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Modern Russian Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), here pp. 165–66.Google Scholar
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    This point is made by Benjamin Schwartz, “The Intelligentsia in Communist China: A Tentative Comparison”, in Richard Pipes, ed., The Russian Intelligentsia (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961), here pp. 176–77.Google Scholar
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© Mark Gamsa 2010

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