Review of Lydia Ginzburg’s Alternative Literary Identities
Known in her lifetime primarily as a literary scholar, Lydia Ginzburg (1902-1990) has become celebrated for a body of writing at the intersections of literature, history, psychology, and sociology. In highly original prose, she acted as a chronicler of the Soviet intelligentsia, a philosopher-cum-ethnographer of the Leningrad Blockade, and an author of powerful non-fictional narratives. She was a humanistic thinker with deep insights into psychological and moral dimensions of life and death in difficult historical circumstances.
The first part of this book is a collection of essays by a distinguished set of scholars, shedding new light on Ginzburg’s contributions to Russian literature and literary studies, life-writing, subjectivity, ethics, the history of the novel, and trauma studies. The second part is comprised of six works by Ginzburg that are being published for the first time in English translation. They represent a cross-section of her great themes, including Proustian notions of memory and place, the meaning of love and rejection, literary politics, ethnic and sexual identities, and the connections between personal biography and Soviet history. Both parts of the volume aim to explore, and make accessible to new readers, the gripping contribution to a broad set of disciplines by a profoundly intelligent writer and observer of her times.
Emily Van Buskirk is Assistant Professor in the Department of Germanic, Russian, and East European Languages and Literatures at Rutgers University. She works on twentieth-century Russian and Czech literature and culture.
Andrei Zorin is the Professor of Russian at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of New College, Oxford. He previously taught at the Russian State University for Humanities (Moscow), and has been on the faculty of Harvard, Stanford and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He works on the history of Russian literature and culture of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as well as contemporary literature and culture.