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Leading Russia as the New Israel: authorship and authority in Fedor Glinka’s Letters of a Russian Officer and Experiments in Sacred Verse

Davidson, P; (2018) Leading Russia as the New Israel: authorship and authority in Fedor Glinka’s Letters of a Russian Officer and Experiments in Sacred Verse. Russian Review (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

This article argues that Fedor Glinka (1786-1880) established a new model of authorship and authority during and after the Napoleonic wars. He achieved this by embedding two central controlling metaphors in Russian letters: first, that of Russia as a new Israel, and then, as a result, that of the writer as national prophet. The first stage of this process took place in his Letters of a Russian Officer (1815-1816) and Letters to a Friend (1816-1817). In these autobiographical works, Glinka transformed the existing theological and imperial trope of chosenness to include (for the first time) an idealised image of the Russian people (narod), based on his personal observations, anchored in recent history, and reported in a compelling innovative form of prose that combined documentary record with edifying moral addresses to his audience. The second stage was developed through numerous poetic adaptations of the psalms and biblical prophets, assembled in Experiments in Sacred Verse (1826). In this collection the poet’s voice merged fully with the power of the sacred word. Although Glinka’s prophetic status was reinforced by him in exile and validated through the responses of contemporary readers, his pivotal role as the originator of the modern literary view of the writer as a figure of prophetic authority (a role usually attributed to other, more prominent writers) was subsequently overlooked as a result of the paradoxical after-life of his legacy, explored in the conclusion.

Type: Article
Title: Leading Russia as the New Israel: authorship and authority in Fedor Glinka’s Letters of a Russian Officer and Experiments in Sacred Verse
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(IS...
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Fedor Glinka (1786-1880), Russia as a new Israel, Prophet, Letters of a Russian Officer (1815-1816), Letters to a Friend (1816-1817)
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1564419
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