Explores the relationship between law, literature, and authority in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russia


Legal scholars and literary critics have shown the significance of storytelling, not only as part of the courtroom procedure, but as part of the very foundation of law. Russia's Legal Fictions examines the relationship between law, narrative and authority in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russia.
The conflict between the Russian writer and the law is a well-known feature of Russian literary life in the past two centuries. With one exception, the authors discussed in this book--Sukhovo-Kobylin, Akhsharumov, Suvorin, and Dostoevsky in the nineteenth century and Solzhenitsyn and Siniavskii in the twentieth--were all put on trial. In Russia's Legal Fictions, Harriet Murav starts with the authors' own writings about their experience with law and explores the history of these Russian literary trials, including censorship, libel cases, and one case of murder, in their specific historical context, showing how particular aspects of the culture of the time relate to the case.
The book explores the specifically Russian literary and political conditions in which writers claim the authority not only as the authors of fiction but as lawgivers in the realm of the real, and in which the government turns to the realm of the literary to exercise its power. The author uses specific aspects of Russian culture, history and literature to consider broader theoretical questions about the relationship between law, narrative, and authority. Murav offers a history of the reception of the jury trial and the development of a professional bar in late Imperial Russia as well as an exploration of theories of criminality, sexuality, punishment, and rehabilitation in Imperial and Soviet Russia.
This book will be of interest to scholars of law and literature and Russian law, history and culture.
Harriet Murav is Associate Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature, University of California at Davis.

Harriet Murav is Associate Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature, University of California at Davis.

". . . this informed study of long-ignored areas of Russian culture will appeal to specialists in Russian literature and in the relationship between the humanities and law."

- Choice

"Murav's brilliant and complex study fills a gap in connecting Russian law and literature. . . . This is an immensely learned work, both in substance and as an intellectual exercise. It exhibits keen insight on both law and literature and more than justifies inclusion, lest there be any doubters still, of this theme in law school curricula."
—Albert J. Schmidt, George Washington University & Quinnipiac College School of Law, Russian Review, Volume 59, No. 1

- Albert J. Schmidt, George Washington University & Quinnipiac College School of L

"Harriet Murav's important book, Russia's Legal Fictions, makes absorbing and rewarding reading. . . . Throughout her discussions of text and context, Murav's primary concern remains the source of authority—that of the Russian writer, on the one hand, and of Russian law, on the other, and how the two are interimplicated by their dependence on narrative. Legal Fictions is an important book on two counts: first, for what it tells us specifically about Russia and, second, for its successful bid to place scholarship on Russia in a dialogue with contemporary American theory. . . . This is a book we all should read—for its scholarly insight, its theoretical acumen, and its ethical astuteness."
—Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy, Barnard College, Slavic Review, Volume 59, No. 1 (Spring 2000)

- Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy, Barnard College

Winner: Modern Language Association's 1999 Scaglione Prize for Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures

- Modern Language Association