"Zholkovsky’s work—vast in scope and eclectic in methodology—has long been humanizing semiotics in both the Russian and American academy, giving it a face, a sense of humor, a stake in the real worlds we live by, but never losing its structuralist bedrock. The essays collected here, which range from Pushkin to Fyodor Karamazov, Okudzhava and Sedakova, from Peter the Great’s scandals abroad to Russian literary theory and filmmaking at home, are a goldmine by leading Slavists in North America, Europe, and Russia. A huge book of brilliant nuggets, it lights up the contours of our field today while paying perfect vignette-like tribute to Alik’s long non-conformist career, as fascinating and inscrutably flexible as it was often perilous.” (By Caryl Emerson). *** “This book is a wonderful gift not only for the 'jubilee celebrant' (for AZ it is impossible to imagine this phrase without quotes), but for all of us. The variety of topics, genres and authors might seem surprising were it not for the fact that this variety reflects the character of the book’s addressee. Its content, better than any manifesto or theoretical treatise, brings us good news: that a lack of intellectual inhibition, an unrestricted field of vision, and an enthusiasm that does not cloy are all so becoming to scholarship that, in essence, has as its sole palpable subject the infinity of creative choices. I have always liked Mayakovsky’s neologism: 'Do not jubilee!' (He himself, though, was very much concerned with his own anniversaries.) A / Z is completely devoid of the sedate smoothness of octogenaric jubilees, but it has a lot of panache and a spirit of intellectual adventure, and most importantly, fun. In this, the book bears a striking resemblance to its addressee.” (By Boris Gasparov).
The study addresses the emergence of Russian tragedy in the 1740s as a consequence and an example of the pan-European theatrical poetics of absolutism, which used literary and dramatic techniques in order to reaffirm and re-negotiate the foundations of the moral consensus and political order. Written for the court stage, Russian drama re-enacted the fundamental notions of supreme power, and its Aristotelian techniques of emotional impact provided the means for politically informed manipulation of anxiety, an important tool for the constant re-negotiation of the relationship between monarchy and its subjects. Poetics of early modern tragic drama was shaped across Europe by the vision of absolute power as a state of exception, an idea which was mapped in Russian dramas onto the historical experience of spectacular autocratic terror.
This is a collection of essays on the semiotics of history, a product of the 30 years collaboration of the two co-authors. All the articles are devoted to the history of the Russian culture, treating it not as an isolated phenomenon, but as an integral part of the world culture. Semiotic analysis of various fonts allows to define both universal and pecular characteristics in the history of Rusian culture.