The University of Wisconsin Press

Slavic & Eastern European Studies / Literature & Criticism

The Modernist Masquerade
Stylizing Life, Literature, and Costumes in Russia
Colleen McQuillen

“Colleen McQuillen establishes a rich context in which to consider Russian modernism and the cultural practices and artistic tenets of its adherents.”
—Olga Peters Hasty, Princeton University

Masked and costume balls thrived in Russia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries during a period of rich literary and theatrical experimentation. The first study of its kind, The Modernist Masquerade examines the cultural history of masquerades in Russia and their representations in influential literary works.

The masquerade’s widespread appearance as a literary motif in works by such writers as Anna Akhmatova, Leonid Andreev, Andrei Bely, Aleksandr Blok, and Fyodor Sologub mirrored its popularity as a leisure-time activity and illuminated its integral role in the Russian modernist creative consciousness. Colleen McQuillen charts how the political, cultural, and personal significance of lavish costumes and other forms of self-stylizing evolved in Russia over time. She shows how their representations in literature engaged in dialog with the diverse aesthetic trends of Decadence, Symbolism, and Futurism and with the era’s artistic philosophies.

Colleen McQuillen is assistant professor in the Department of Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“Not only will The Modernist Masquerade appeal to all scholars of the fin-de-siècle period: it is simply great fun to read.”
Slavic and East European Journal

“Colleen McQuillen captures a unique moment in late Imperial Russian culture and politics, when costuming, masquerading, and dressing up was the rage among writers, artists, performers, and even terrorists. She considers everything from high society and popular culture to literature and the antics of the Futurists. The book is a pleasure to read and intellectually stimulating as well. What a delight.”
—Jeffrey Brooks, author of When Russia Learned to Read

A Mellon Slavic Studies Initiative Book
This book is part of an initiative for publishing first books by scholars in the fields of Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Of Related Interest
Novel and CityPetersburg/Petersburg
Novel and City, 1900-1921
Edited by Olga Matich
“Redefines not only the phenomenal presence of Saint Petersburg as city but also the modern city’s impact on the creation of new kinds of narrative.” —John E. Bowlt, author of Moscow & St. Petersburg 1900–1920


December 2013
LC: 2013015052 PG
298 pp.   6 x 9   32 b/w illus.

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Paper $29.95 a
ISBN 978-0-299-29614-8
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