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The most popular hero of Russian nineteenth-century historical literature was the False Dimitrii, Ivan the Terrible's son, who had miraculously escaped murder and who with Polish help ascended the throne in 1605. He was the problematic protagonist of Pushkin's famous Boris Godunov (1825, opera by Mussorgskii 1869-1872), but also of a host of lesser known plays and novels. This book's thesis is that Russian literature chose the impostor figure for a critical self-reflection on the elite being trapped in mimetic forms of resistance, and to symbolize its failure to become the voice of the nation and produce an alternative to autocratic power.
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Sander Brouwer is assistant professor of Russian literature at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He publishes on the topics of Russian literature and culture from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries (Avvakum, Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Pelevin).
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