|About the Book|
Beginning in the first half of the eighteenth century and continuing into the nineteenth century, many members of that small but significant group that Pushkin called the enlightened nobility felt a strong attraction to the idea of retreating fromMoreBeginning in the first half of the eighteenth century and continuing into the nineteenth century, many members of that small but significant group that Pushkin called the enlightened nobility felt a strong attraction to the idea of retreating from the clamor and complexity of the larger world. Against an increasingly impersonal and abstract public realm the Russian nobleman juxtaposed a smaller, simpler, more private one. Heeding Voltaires famous dictum, he sought to cultivate his garden both in a figurative and a literal sense: to withdraw inward and homeward, into the self and into the benign, quiet, familiar landscape of the gentry estate. The Voice in the Garden is a wide-ranging exploration of this pastoral impulse in eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century Russian culture and, no less important, of the various tensions that undercut and qualified this experiment in idyllicism -- the hidden anxieties of Russian pastoral.Using Russias most prolific writer, the hitherto neglected Andrei Timofeevich Bolotov (1738-1833), as his focal point, Thomas Newlin offers a sophisticated and lively analysis of the complex interplay of literature and real life during this unusually dynamic period of Russian history. The book is based on extensive archival research and draws on a rich array of literary and extraliterary sources, including memoirs, diaries, letters, lyric poetry, domestic albums, and landscape gardening. A broad, interdisciplinary exercise in cultural, intellectual, and literary history, The Voice in the Garden establishes a much fuller and more nuanced context for understanding the problematic pastoralism of Bolotovs cultural heirs, later and better-knownnineteenth-century figures such as Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Aksakov, and Tolstoy.