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"Keys to Happiness", published in 6 volumes between 1908 and 1913, was one of the most sensationally popular and influential Russian novels of the early twentieth century. Against a panorama of Russian society on the eve of World War I, "Keys" recounts the stormy life of Manya Yeltsova, a Russian 'new woman' who pursues her dreams and passions to fame and notoriety as a dancer a la Isadora Duncan and a free spirit who captivates, among others, a Jewish socialist tycoon and a reactionary Russian nobleman. At the time of its publication, the novel crossed the boundaries of both gender and class to define a new type of literature in Russian society. Keying on the themes of art, love, politics, and personal freedom, it combines high culture with the era's fascination with self-gratification and the pleasures of the flesh. This sparkling abridged translation by Beth Holmgren and Helena Goscilo makes Anastasia Verbitskaia's startling bestseller available in English for the first time. The translation presents approximately a quarter of the novel, concentrating on decisive stages in Manya's personal development. Narrative summaries by the translators bridge omissions in the text. Their informative introduction places the novel within its cultural, political, and social context and makes clear for today's readers its literary and historical importance.
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AnastasYa VerbitskaYa (1861-1928) earned her reputation as the creator of the modern bestseller in Russia. Her other works include Discord and The Yoke of Love.
Beth Holmgren is Associate Professor of Slavic Literatures at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill. She is author of Women’s Works in Stalin’s Time: On Lidiia Chukovskaia and Nadezhda Mandelstam and Rewriting Capitalism: Literature and the Market in Late Tsarist Russia and the Kingdom of Poland and coeditor (with Helena Goscilo) of Russia-Women-Culture.
Helena Goscilo is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh. Her most recent publications include Skirted Issues: The Discreteness and Indiscretions of Russian Women’s Prose, TNT: The Explosive World of Tatyana Tolstaya’s Fiction, and Dehexing Sex: Russian Womanhood during and after Glasnost.Language Notes:
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian
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