The essays are informed by the personal impressions of the author, a literary scholar who has found himself at the crossroads of two cultures after his moving from Russia to America in January 1990. Hence the work implements an "auto-cultural" approach, combining elements of research and introspection. The fields of comparison between Russian and American cultures, reflected in the coherence of six sections, include: 1) nature and landscapes; 2) people and the state; 3) cultural symbolism; 4) social rituals; 5) private life; 6) religious beliefs. The topics, organized in a systematic order, range from the meaning of dinosaurs in contemporary American mass culture (as a symbolic substitute for a historic past) to apocalyptic visions in contemporary Russia (as symbolic substitutions for a deteriorating or lost perspective on the future). The book concludes with a meditation on the strangeness of being orphaned by the most recently deceased of history's great civilizations -- and being adopted by the youngest of them.
New York: Slovo/Word Publishers, 1995, 344 pp.
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