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Working paper

From a Historical Source to a Narrative Form: Anecdotes in A. V. Nikitenko’s Diary and the History of Censorship

Bodrova A. S., Зубков К. Ю.
The study explores the narrative structure of Alexandr Nikitenko’s diary, one of the core sources for the history of Russian censorship, and on the role of the genre of anecdote in particular. Through an analysis of the ‘anecdotal’ entries about censorship in Nikitenko’s diary and their evolution (their number peaks during the years of Nicholas I’s reign, and plummets in the parts of the account dealing with Alexander II, particularly in the period of 1860-ies), the authors demonstrate the peculiarities of the ‘anecdotal’ frame in picturing the interactions between literary circles and censorship. The literary form of anecdote, whose strength is in picturing singular oddities and excesses, fails to account for the everyday quality of routine practices, the day-to-day modes of interaction between authors and censors, so that the ‘anecdotal’ narrative can only work as a segment of a more complex and multidimensional vision of how literary agency and censoring authorities interacted.