The iconic masks of the Italian commedia dell'arte-Harlequin, Pierrot, Colombina, Pulcinella, and others-have been vagabonding the roads of Russian cultural history for more than three centuries. This book explores how these masks, and the artistic principles of the commedia dell'arte that they embody, have profoundly affected the Russian artistic imagination, providing a source of inspiration for leading Russian artists as diverse as nineteenth-century writer Nikolai Gogol, modernist theater director Evgenii Vakhtangov, Vladimir Nabokov, and the empress of Russian popular culture Alla Pugacheva. The author presents a new perspective on this topic, showing how the commedia dell'arte has nourished a rich cultural tradition in Russia.
Olga Partan is Assistant Professor of Russian at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts. She received her PhD with a dissertation on the commedia dell'arte in Russian culture from Brown University in 2004. She has authored several articles and book chapters on Russian literature and the performing arts, and a Russian-language memoir You were right, Filumena! (Moscow: PROZAiK, 2012).