The Phenomenon of Orthodox Bestsellers in Contemporary Russia

  • Author / Creator
    Shaw, Lina
  • Abstract
    This study attempts to provide a literary analysis of some of the most popular contemporary Orthodox bestsellers in an effort to discuss their literary and cultural values and to explain their widespread appeal, focusing on historical, social and political concern that inform the Orthodox book market.
    The analysis shows that the popular Orthodox culture in Russian society today tends toward a nationalist, moralist and rather conservative reading of the religion. Christianity is seen not so much as a universal concept, but the essence that defines the historic origin and cultural roots of the Russians. My study confirms a close tie between the 19th century Russian messianism and today’s popular Orthodox discourses.
    Instead of focusing on dogmatic, theological debates, the bestsellers place emphasis on the lived experience of Russian people, showing through the life stories of “real people” how religion is relevant in modern society, how one can engage. The readers’ response indicates that average readers focus on the peaceful, optimistic, positive attitude that religion helps one attain in this life rather than the possibility of afterlife that the faith actually promises.
    These books portray an Orthodox Church that has actually always been there throughout the Russian history and has always been the nation’s greatest treasure and ultimate protection, which is a sharp departure from the tradition of late 19th century Russian literature that promoted opposition to institutional religion.
    The Orthodox ideal of holiness and treatment of the concept of personality shown in these bestsellers carry distinct medieval message, which are perceived as the perfection that needs to be preserved intact and promoted as it is and any changes or improvements would be undesirable.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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