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Andrew Kahn

MA, DPhil (BA Amherst, MA Harvard)
Subjects: 
Modern Languages

Biography

I was born and raised in New York.  The Cold War mentality of the 1970s gave Russian civilization a great mystique.  I made my first trip to Russia at the end of my school years the very week that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.  The Iron Curtain had an incredible mystique and also inspired bafflement—if you looked not too far below and behind the surface gloom and deprivation there were fantastic traditions of culture, literature, cinema and art.  The noble life-stories of writers who dedicated themselves to truth and art was also highly gripping.  Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Prize Lecture which I read as a schoolboy made a monumental impression although my professional interests have now carried me far from his fiction.

It’s a pleasure and privilege to teach at Oxford because the resources in my subject are excellent, the colleagues in Modern Languages wonderful and the undergraduates talented and enthusiastic even in the face of a difficult language like Russian. For undergraduates with a serious interest in learning about a language, literature and culture comprehensively I don’t think there is a better course or place than Oxford (that’s a genuine claim). The riches of the literature are vast well beyond the celebrated names of 19th c. novelists. And who can resist Russian jokes? I am the first Tutorial Fellow in Russian at St Edmund Hall and am proud to occupy this post and to be Professor of Russian Literature in the University of Oxford.

My research falls into these three areas: 

1. The Russian Enlightenment in its comparative European context
I am the author of a number of studies, a major translation, a monograph and editor of a forthcoming book that aim to revise our understanding of the modernization and secularization of Russian culture in the 18th century through the transmission of fundamental ideas of the Western European and British Enlightenment to Russia during the reign of Catherine the Great.  Outside of my work on the Russian Enlightenment I have published an edition of Montesquieu’s masterpiece The Persian Letters (Oxford, 2008), which gave me a chance to pursue some questions outside the Russian context and for a larger audience.

2. The work of Alexander Pushkin
Much of my research has been on the work of Russia's most famous writer, Alexander Pushkin about whom I have published a number of books and articles, including an edition of his prose superbly translated by the late Alan Myers (for Oxford World’s Classics).  There are few figures more compelling than Pushkin—a political upstart and exile, seducer, psychologist of genius and most exquisite poet.  Like all great writers he is a friend for life.

3. Russian poetry: the traditions
Outside the above areas of concentrations I have produced a steady stream of articles on major poets of the 20th century, and am currently working on Osip Mandelshtam, for many the greatest Russian poet of the 20th century.

Selected Publications

Alexander Pushkin, The Queen of Spades and Other Stories
ed. Andrew Kahn, trans. Alan Myers 
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, World's Classics,1997)
ISBN: 0192839543

Pushkin's The Bronze Horseman
London & Bristol: Duckworth, 1998
ISBN: 1853994448

N.M. Karamzin, Letters of a Russian Traveller
translated with an introduction, commentary and essay Karamzin's Discourses of Enlightenment (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2003), 593pp.
ISBN: 0729408116

The Cambridge Companion to Pushkin, Edited by Andrew Kahn
Cambridge University Press, 2007
ISBN-13: 9780521604710 | ISBN-10: 0521604710

Montesquieu, The Persian Letters, trans. Margaret Mauldon, 
edited with Introduction by Andrew Kahn
Oxford University Press, 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0-19-280635-2

Pushkin's Lyric Intelligence
Oxford University Press, 2008, 416 pages
ISBN13: 9780199234745, ISBN10: 0199234744

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