In literature, the opposition between Russian Christians and Muslims was established early on in the folk epics, in the “historical songs” told by the bards in the oral tradition. Several of them deal with the capturing of the khanate of Kazan, the northernmost Tatar realm. From the “Tatars” conquered by Ivan the Terrible in Kazan and depicted in Russian folk songs to Tolstoy’s thistle called “the Tatar” (tatarin) there is a winding line of literary works.
Professor of Russian at the Åbo Akademi University and associate professor of Slavic languages at Stockholm University. Received a PhD in 1979 for a dissertation on Russian modernist poet Velimir Chlebnikov. Has written about the prose of Zamyatin and Babel (the skaz-problem) and the poetry of Pasternak, Tsvetaevas, Akhmatova. Is particularly interested in Russian folklore and the recasting of folk culture in the literature.