Dialogues

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Duke University Press, 1994 - Literary Criticism - 415 pages
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Co-authored by Russian, Ukrainian, and American critics, Dialogues/Dialogi is the first fully collaborative and comparative study of American and (ex)Soviet women writers. Truly a dialogue, the book juxtaposes fiction by American and Soviet women from the 1960s to the present to reveal their similarities and differences and to show how questions of gender, race, and ethnicity are enacted in the societies and psyches each text represents. Begun in the early days of glasnost and completed in 1992, the book conveys the spirit and excitement of an unprecedented critical conversation conducted during a time of historic transformation.
Dialogues/Dialogi pairs stories by Tillie Olsen, Toni Cade Bambara, Jayne Anne Phillips, and Leslie Marmon Silko (reprinted here in full) with Russian stories by I. Grekova, Liudmila Petrushevskaya, Elena Makarova, and Anna Nerkagi, many of them appearing here for the first time in English. Exquisite in their stylistic and thematic variety, suggestive of the range of women's experience and fiction in both countries, each story is the subject of paired interpretive essays by an American and an (ex)Soviet critic from among the book's authors.
A colloquy of diverse voices speaking together in multiple, mutually illuminating exchanges, Dialogues/Dialogi testifies to the possibility of evolving relationships among women across borders once considered impassable.
 

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Page 116 - These things shall be ! A loftier race Than e'er the world hath known shall rise With flame of freedom in their souls, And light of knowledge in their eyes. They shall be gentle, brave and strong, To spill no drop of blood, but dare All that may plant man's lordship firm On earth and fire, and sea, and air. Nation with nation, land with land, Unarmed shall live as comrades free; In every heart and brain shall throb The pulse of one fraternity.
Page 91 - ... one winter. . . . Enough. Now they had no children. Let him wrack his head for how they would live. She would not exchange her solitude for anything. Never again to be forced to move to the rhythms of others.
Page 95 - Kind he is to visit. And you, like ice." "A babbler. All my life around babblers. Enough!" "She's even worse, Dad? Then let her stew a while," advised Nancy. "You can't let it destroy you; it's a psychological thing, maybe too far gone for any of us to help." So he let her stew. More and more she lay silent in bed, and sometimes did not even get up to make the meals. No longer was the tongue-lashing inevitable if he left the coffee cup where it did not belong, or forgot to take out the garbage or...
Page 100 - Unnatural grandmother, not able to make herself embrace a baby. She lay there in the bed of the two little girls, her new hearing aid turned full, listening to the sound of the children going to sleep, the baby's fretful crying and hushing, the clatter of dishes being washed and put away. They thought she slept. Still she rode on. It was not that she had not loved her babies, her children. The love — the passion of tending — had risen with the need like a torrent; and like a torrent drowned and...
Page 103 - And he, the hypocrite, sitting there with tears in his eyes too— it was nothing to you then, nothing. ) . . . The time you came to school and I almost died of shame because of your accent and because I knew you knew I was ashamed; how could I? . . . Sammy's harmonica and you danced to it once yes you did you and Davy squealing in your arms . . . That time you bundled us up and walked us down to the...
Page 114 - ... live). From him too, unspoken words: good-bye Mother who taught me to mother myself. Not Vivi, who must stay with her children; not Davy, but he is already here, having to die again with her this time, for the living take their dead with them when they die. Light she grew, like a bird, and, like a bird, sound bubbled in her throat while the body fluttered in agony. Night and day, asleep or awake (though indeed there was no difference now) the songs and the phrases leaping. And he, who had once...
Page 104 - He raged, but the fear was in his eyes. "It was a serious operation, they told you to take care. . . . All right, we will go to where you can rest.
Page 93 - Seriously, Dad. This is the third Sunday she's lain down like that after dinner. Is she that way at home?" "A regular love affair with the bed. Every time I start to talk to her." Good protective reaction, observed Nancy to herself. The workings of hos-ti-lity. "Nancy could take her. I just don't like how she looks. Let's have Nancy arrange an appointment." "You think she'll go?" regarding his wife gloomily. "All right, we have to have doctor bills, we have to have doctor bills." Loudly: "Something...
Page 118 - Ah, let me help you turn, poor creature." Words jumbled, cleared. In a voice of crowded terror: "Paul, Sammy, don't fight. "Hannah, have I ten hands? "How can I give it, Clara, how can I give it if I don't have?
Page 109 - Let us go home," she said after several days. "You are in training for a cross-country trip? That is why you do not even walk across the room? Here, like a prescription Phil said, till you are stronger from the operation. You want to break doctor's orders?

About the author (1994)

Susan Hardy Aiken is Professor of English at the University of Arizona.

Adele Barker is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Maya Koreneva is a scholar at the A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature in Moscow.

Ekaterina Stetsenko is a scholar at the A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature in Moscow.

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