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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In the 1820s and 1830s, when Russia’s encounter with Romanticism primarily took place, it was a culture caught in a complex debate about its own identity. Russian literature developed late and was dependent at first on that of Ukraine and Poland, and later Western Europe, especially France and England. Russian culture had to somehow map broadly European issues and movements on to its own reality. Romantic concepts and tropes such as the bold, brooding individual, the focus on interiority, the embrace of the irrational, and the breaking of previous conventions had political as well as artistic import in Russia. But the Romantic period in Russian literature is indelibly linked with the Caucasus. Romanticism appeared at the point when Russians first agreed that they now had a literature they could call their own, one that did not consist merely of translations and borrowings. The so-called ‘southern theme’ relating to the Caucasus and to exile was instrumental in this affirmation of a Russian national literature.

Keywords: Nationalism, Europe, interiority, genre, exile, Caucasus, politics.

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