Colonial Mimicry and Disenchantment in Alexander Druzhinin's "A Russian Circassian" and Other Stories, by Susan Layton
''A Russian Circassian'' (1855) is a fascinating literary response to colonialism on the part of a writer who only recently has begun receiving the scholarly attention he merits. The most profilic critic of the art for art's sake tendency, Druzhinin (1824-64) was literary editor for the Contemporary from 1948 to 1855 and then for the Library for Reading, the journal where he took his stand against the political approach to literature advocated by Nikolai Chernyshevsky, Nikolai Dobroliubov, and other radicals of the day. As a novelist Druzhinin won immediate acclaim for Polinka Saks (1847) and The Story Aleksei Dmitrich (1948). before his premature death from tuberculosis he produced several more volumes of critism, feuilletons, translations, stories, and novellas. Never on par with his first two successes, those lesser literary works were often verbose, a defect that mars ''A Russian Circassian.''This story of confused identity nevertheless displays a sophisticated sense of parody, ''excellent style, interesting ideas and numerous shades of irony, including self-irony. Why, then, did the public ignore ''A Russian Circassian'' in its time?
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