The debates over the Jewish theme in Russian literature have been long dominated by the old dichotomy between anti and philo-Semitic discourses. Rather than analyzing “the image of the Jew” in terms of negative or positive characteristics, and branding the authors respectively, as anti- or philo-Semitic, the author explores the complexity and the ambiguity of the construction of Jewishness as the “Other” in the works of three of Russia’s greatest nineteenth-century authors. Katz identifies Gogol, Dostoevsky and Turgenev as creators of special modes of the emerging Jewish discourse in Russian literature. She tackles the traditionally read tropes of Jews in light of both sociohistoric and cultural contexts of the time and the writers’ own politics and aesthetics.
Elena M. Katz was the Max Hayward Fellow in Russian Literature in the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre, St. Antony’s College, Oxford.