Files in this item



application/pdfSUTTON-DISSERTATION-2017.pdf (1MB)
(no description provided)PDF


Title:Old truths in new skins: animal imagery in the works of Nikolai Leskov
Author(s):Sutton, Matthew A
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Finke, Michael; Cooper, David
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Sobol, Valeria; Stoppino, Eleonora
Department / Program:Slavic Languages & Literature
Discipline:Slavic Languages & Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Animals complicate everything. They are implicated in science, in theology; they change the course of human development in its technological, cultural, and many other aspects. Animals have often provided material for thinking about what it means to be human, since they have been harnessed by writers to generate symbolical codes, allegories, and associations. Animal bodies are physical and figurative bodies that populate the real world and fictive worlds and in both are often unnoticed. At the same time, they enable and define continued human existence not only in a physical sense but in a figurative sense, and attention to animals inevitably yields productive consideration of a wide range of questions. This thesis examines the multiple functions of animal imagery in the works of Leskov. In Nikolai Leskov’s fiction, the animal image acts as a point of convergence for questions of scientific, religious, and social content that engaged society in mid-nineteenth century Russia; these questions form the backdrop and sometimes the substance of Leskov’s literary works. Animal imagery serves multiple symbolic, interpretive, and affective functions in Leskov’s texts and I trace these functions in works in which they are most conspicuous. Animal imagery invokes the authority of reality, elicits empathy in the reader, and enhances the literary riddle with which Leskov challenges his readers. Leskov comments on the human condition, intimating his viewpoint in the context of the debates around human origins, the new reforms, the questions of modernization that involved the attitude toward the achievement of Western and Russian civilization in relation to one another, and other key questions in the decades of change in the second half of the nineteenth century. Leskov shows that the texts and the ways of thinking that have endured have done so because they remain thought-provoking in their treatment of basic questions. Leskov’s message about Russia is that there is plenty of reason for hope, but that common and moral sense, and good information, must be consulted as decisions are made. The animal code contextualizes Russia’s and the individual’s problems in a larger frame: the frame of history, the frame of the human community and the community of being that is shared with animals and nature.
Issue Date:2017-06-15
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Matthew Sutton
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-29
Date Deposited:2017-08

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Item Statistics