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The history of gay and lesbian literature in Russia is closely tied to the troubled evolution of Russian erotic culture as a whole. The enormous gap between the literary culture of Russia's educated elite and the oral culture of the folk shaped the evolution of gay literature in fundamental ways. The relationship of homosexuality to Russian cultural citizenship is a theme that runs throughout the history of Russian gay and lesbian literature. In the latter years of the nineteenth century, Russian culture began to turn away from the serious, socially engaged realism of the previous decades. A sophisticated art-for-art's sake aesthetic emerged, presaging the explosion of artistic innovation in the first two decades of the twentieth century, referred to as the Silver Age of Russian literature. Early post-Soviet gay and lesbian fiction reflected an enduring ambivalence on the part of Russian gays and lesbians themselves toward homosexuality as a native phenomenon.