by Svetlana Boym
Basic Books, 404 pp., $22.00
CHRISTOPHER BROWN - Riddles for Longing
“Somewhere on the frontier, the ghost of Dostoevsky meets the ghost of Mickey Mouse. Like the characters from The Possessed, they exchange wry smiles.” Thus concludes the first chapter of Svetlana Boym’s The Future of Nostalgia, uniting in a hypothetical world two seemingly disparate figures, and yet both represent nations —the United States and Russia —built on modern foundations of transcending history and memory. As a professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature at Harvard and a native of Russia, Boym is uniquely qualified to make such a comparison between her current home, the land of “eternal optimism,” and her homeland, a country of “eternal fatalism,” positing the two as her initial counterpoints of perspective in a fascinating, multidisciplinary study on nostalgia.