Between Heaven and Hell: Myth of Siberia in Russian Culture

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Siberia has no history of independent political existence, no claim to a separate ethnic identity, and no clear borders. Yet, it could be said that the elusive country 'behind the Urals' is the most real and the most durable part of the Russian landscape. For centuries, Siberia has been represented as Russia's alter ego,as the heavenly or infernal antithesis to the perceived complexity or shallowness of Russian life. It has been both the frightening heart of darkness and a fabulous land of plenty; the 'House of the Dead' and the realm of utter freedom; a frozen wasteland and a colourful frontier; a dumping ground for Russia's rejects and the last refuge of its lost innocence. The contributors to Between Heaven and Hell examine the origin, nature, and implications of these images from historical, literary, geographical, anthropological, and linguistic perspectives. They create a striking, fascinating picture of this enormous and mysterious land.