Review by Choice Review
Peterson (Amherst College) proposes a thesis that seems improbable at first glance: the "cultural construction of 'soul'" and the "affinity between modern Black and Russian modes of artistic expression." Never dogmatic in his arguments, the author skillfully and sensitively shows correspondences and differences among various African American and Russian thinkers and writers without ever implying direct influences. Chapters discuss "missionary nationalism" in Chaadaev and Crummell; "cultural nationalism" in Ivan Kireevsky and W.E.B. DuBois; "unveiling of ethnic soul" in Dostoevsky's Notes from the House of the Dead and DuBois's The Souls of Black Folk; "recovering the native tongue" in Turgenev's Notes of a Hunter, Chesnutt's The Conjure Woman, and Hurston's Mules and Men; poetics of national identity in Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground and Johnson's Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man; rebellion against "native soul" in Gorky's Childhood and Wright's Black Boy; "invention of multicultural nationalism" in Trubetzkoy's Eurasian Movement and Locke's "New Negro Renaissance"; "preserving the race" in Rasputin's Farewell to Matyora and Naylor's Mama Day; and "African American dialogue with Bakhtin." This important, well-documented book opens new lines of inquiry to anyone interested in African American and Russian studies. Jargon-free, elegant, lucid prose makes this title accessible to all audiences--from the general and beginning undergraduate reader to the scholar. C. A. Rydel; Grand Valley State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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