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Persistent FormsExplorations in Historical Poetics$
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Ilya Kliger and Boris Maslov

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264858

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264858.001.0001

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The Age of Sensibility (1904)

The Age of Sensibility (1904)

(p.255) Chapter 9 The Age of Sensibility (1904)
Persistent Forms

Alexander Veselovsky

Fordham University Press

The chapter from Veselovsky’s last book is a notably self-contained piece, presenting an overview of European Sentimentalism, foregrounding the ways in which the poetic language of sensibility came to buttress a particular kind of subjectivity. It further points out that the rise of the sentimentalizers is a product of political reaction. The preservation of a sentimentalist sensibility clearly correlates with Zhukovsky’s support for the monarchy. Zhukovsky’s “sentimentalization” of the life at court, for example, provoked criticism among his friends already in the late 1810s; yet those efforts on Zhukovsky’s part, as Veselovsky shows, inaugurate an ideology that would inform the work of Gogol, the Slavophiles, and Dostoevsky, and that explains, to a significant extent, the intellectual viability of the Russian monarchy throughout the nineteenth century. It is hardly an accident that Veselovsky’s book was written at the time of unprecedented social ferment, on the eve of the 1905 Revolution. By adopting an ostensibly objectivist, ironic as well as generally empathetic approach to a figure who was seen as an emblem of sincere, heartfelt conservatism, Veselovsky offers a profound commentary on how culture and tradition are perpetuated in and through the lives of individual historical agents.

Keywords:   cultural borrowing, Nikolai Karamzin, Russian history, Sentimentalism, Vasily Zhukovsky

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