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The Vogue for Russia

Modernism and the Unseen in Britain 1900-1930

Caroline Maclean

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Explores the influence of Russian aesthetics on British modernists

In what ways was the British fascination with Russian arts, politics and people linked to a renewed interest in the unseen? How did ideas of Russianness and ‘the Russian soul’ - prompted by the arrival of the Ballets Russes and the rise of revolutionary ideals - attach themselves to the existing British fashion for theosophy, vitalism and occultism? In answering these questions, this study is the first to explore the overlap between Slavophilia and mysticism between 1900 and 1930 in Britain. The main Russian characters that emerge are Fedor Dostoevsky, Boris Anrep, Vasily Kandinsky, Petr Ouspensky and Sergei Eisenstein. The British modernists include Roger Fry, Virginia Woolf, Mary Butts, John Middleton Murry, Michael Sadleir and Katherine Mansfield.

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List of Illustrations
Note on Transliteration
Chapter One: ‘Splinters and Mosaics’: Bloomsbury Aesthetics Reconsidered
Chapter Two: Russian Aesthetics and British Periodicals: Kandinsky, Sadleir, and Rhythm
Chapter Three: Voices of Stones: Mary Butts and Petr Ouspensky’s Fourth Dimension
Chapter Four: ‘That Magic Force that is Montage’: Eisenstein’s Filmic Fourth Dimension, Borderline and H. D..

About the Author

Dr Caroline Maclean is Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies, University of London. She has published articles on Mary Butts and Pyotr Ouspensky's Fourth Dimension; on Eisenstein's Filmic Fourth Dimension and H.D.; and on Russian Aesthetics in Britain: Kandinsky, Sadleir and Rhythm. She is also writing a book on Early Film Theorists for the Routledge Critical Thinkers Series.


‘Caroline Maclean’s The Vogue for Russia: Mysticism and Modernism in Britain 1900-1930 is a well-conceived and much needed scholarly study. Maclean’s ability to pull together the disparate threads that other scholars have followed is what will make this book widely read and valuable to scholars in several fields (modernist literary studies, modern history, art history, science studies, film studies, and religious studies).’


- Mark S. Morrisson, Professor of English, Pennsylvania State University

The Vogue for Russia: Modernism and the Unseen in Britain 1900-1930 promises to address a knot of questions which is gaining more and more attention in modernist studies, and in investigations of modernity more generally. This book will make an original and distinctive contribution to the subject.’


- Leigh Wilson, Reader in English Literature, University of Westminster
[Paints] an often fascinating, often useful picture of the lengths to which the modernists would go in their quest to understand the world.
- THOMAS HITCHNER, University of California, Los Angeles, English Literature in Transition 1880–1920

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