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Border Crossing

Russian Literature into Film

Edited by Alexander Burry, Frederick White


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Examines the ways in which Russian texts are altered in order to suit new cinematic environments

Each time a border is crossed there are cultural, political and social issues to be considered. Applying the metaphor of the ‘border crossing’ from one temporal or spatial territory into another, Border Crossing: Russian Literature into Film examines the way classic Russian texts have been altered to suit new cinematic environments.

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Introduction: Filming Russian Classics: Challenges and Opportunities, Alexander Burry
Passport Control: Across the Russian Border, Thomas Leitch
White Nights (1844): Dostoevsky’s White Nights: The Dreamer Goes Abroad, Ronald Meyer
Crime and Punishment (1866): On Not Showing Dostoevsky: Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket, Olga Hasty
Stealing the Scene: Crime as Confession in Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket, S. Ceilidh Orr
Anna Karenina (1878): The Eye-deology of Trauma: Killing Anna Karenina Softly, Yuri Leving
Ward No. 6 (1892): A Vicious Circle: Karen Shakhnazarov’s Ward no. 6, Alexander Burry
He Who Gets Slapped (1915): A Slap in the Face of American Taste: Transporting He Who Gets Slapped to American Audiences, Frederick H. White
Lieutenant Kijé (1928): Against Adaptation? The Strange Case of (Pod)Poruchik Kizhe, Alastair Renfrew
The Twelve Chairs (1928): Chasing the Wealth: The Americanization of Il’f and Petrov’s The Twelve Chairs, Robert Mulcahy
Despair (1936): Fassbinder’s Nabokov: From text to action!, Dennis Ioffe
Ticket to the Stars (1961): The Soviet Abroad (That We Lost), Otto Boele
Conclusion: Passport Control: Departing on a Cinematic Journey, Frederick H. White

About the Author

Alexander Burry is an Associate Professor at The Ohio State University. He is the author of Multi-Mediated Dostoevsky: Transposing Novels into Opera, Film, and Drama (2011).

Frederick H. White is Professor in the Department of Languages and Cultures at Utah Valley University. He has published two books on the Russian writer Leonid Andreev; co-edited a selection of essays on the Russian avant-garde; and is the co-author of Marketing Literature and Posthumous Legacies: The Symbolic Capital of Leonid Andreev and Vladimir Nabokov (2013).


By closely analyzing the complex and multiple ways that classic works of Russian literature have been reimagined at different times and places, in different languages, cultures, genres, and media, the essays in Burry and White's Border Crossing: Russian Literature into Film make a significant contribution not just to Russian Studies but to adaptation studies as well.  Focusing on adaptation as "cross-cultural communication," Border Crossing opens up numerous exciting new avenues for future research by scholars of both literature and film.

Anthony Anemone, The New School