New Book by Dr. Margaret Ziolkowski

Dr. Margaret ZiolkowskiDr. Margaret Ziolkowski has a new book out entitled Rivers in Russian Literature published by the University of Delaware Press.

Rivers flow through space, time, and culture. Cultural responses to river-related events and processes include literary, folkloric, musical, and artistic compositions. This study focuses on the Russian literary and folkloric treatment of five rivers—the Dnieper, Volga, Neva, Don, and Angara. Each chapter traces, within a geographical and historical context, the evolution of the literary representation of one river. Imagination may endow a river with aesthetic or spiritual qualities, ethnic, national, or racial associations, commercial or agricultural symbolism of many kinds. Russian literary responses to these five rivers have much to tell us about the society that produced them as well as the rivers they treat.    

Each chapter contains an overview of the physical features of the river under discussion, as well as a largely chronological account of its historical significance for Russian, and later Soviet, development. The primary focus is on Russian folkloric and literary compositions that reflect cultural perceptions of the river in different periods. What emerges from this discussion is a keen sense of the specific personality, as it were, of each individual river, as well as an awareness of the recurrent themes that mark the literary history of all five rivers. Such an approach leads to an enhanced appreciation not only of riverine Russia, but of persistent cultural values and preoccupations.