Rendering skaldic poetry into another language is a challenge for
translators. The main feature of this poetic system is its highly intricate form governed by rigid rules. Skaldic poetry emerged in Norway in the pre-written period
and existed for more than half a millennium, from the middle of the 9th Сentury to the
end of the 14th; from the 10th Сentury onwards it was composed almost exclusively by
the Icelanders. Skaldic art was highly valued at the Scandinavian court: by glorifying
the exploits of the kings in praise-poems, skalds immortalized their deeds in human
memory. Taking its origin from the Old Norse epic verse, skaldic poetry diﬀers from
the former in terms of subject matter (contemporary and often momentary events as
opposed to mythological and heroic past), formal properties (a highly complex poetic technique as opposed to an unsophisticated form), and attitude to authorship.
Whereas epic poems were created and transmitted by anonymous singers, skaldic
verses were produced by authors who often made their personal skills a poetic theme.
The introduction to the current selection of Russian translations of skaldic poems
contains a description of metrical and syntactical structure of the basic poetic unit,
vísa (stanza), composed in the main skaldic metre, dróttkvætt (‘court meter’). It also
discusses the most important element of skaldic language, i.e. simple and multi-member kenning (periphrasis substituted for the nouns of common speech). The selection
includes examples of praise poems and of lausavísur (‘loose stanzas’) composed by
Icelandic skalds of the 11th and 12th Centuries which have been preserved in the
þættir, short stories incorporated into the sagas of Norwegian kings.
Keywords: Old Norse literature, skaldic poetry, praise poems, lausavísur, dróttkvætt, kenning, þættir, poetic translation
Several materials written by international anti-fascist authors have
been recently found in the archives of the A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Among them, there is a short,
hitherto unknown and unpublished essay on Lorca’s dramatic art written in 1937 by
Manuel Altolaguirre, a Spanish poet and editor belonging to the Generation of ‘27.
A thorough analysis allowed me identify that the essay was published in 1937 and
suggest that Altolaguirre wrote two versions of the same text addressed to Spanish
and Soviet audience accordingly. This article introduces the essay and its author in
Russia for the frst time.
Keywords: Manuel Altolaguirre, Federico García Lorca, Lorca’s play-writing, Spanish Civil War, anti-fascism, USRR, unpublished text
The archive of a German writer and anarchist Erich Mühsam (1878–
1934) is a signifcant but “unexplored” part of the manuscript collection of the
A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
I publish three letters of a German science fction writer Paul Scheerbart (1863–
1915) to Mühsam and a postcard that Scheerbart sent to a German writer Hans
Heinz Ewers. The letters to Mühsam record negotiations with publishing houses
in Munich and Berlin about the publication of Scheerbart’s manuscripts (1909).
In the postcard to Ewers, Sheerbart writes about the progress in his work on the
perpetual motion machine that he tried to construct in 1908–1909. The letters are
published in German with Russian translation and commentary. The introductory
article gives an overview of Scheerbart’s life and career, the specifcity of his works,
their problematics and poetics and especially focuses on Scheerbart’s epistolary
heritage. These letters are the token of friendship and professional collaboration
of the two writers that is reﬂected in their mutual work on the unrealized project
of publishing a satirical newspaper “Vaterland.” The IWL archives contain the
unpublished manuscripts of Scheerbart and Mühsam related to this project as well.
The history and the structure of the Mühsam archive is another aspect covered in
the introductory article. Both Erich and Zenzl Mühsam were victims of totalitarian
regimes. Erich was killed by the Nazis and his spouse Zenzl spent many years in
Soviet labor camps. The history of the Mühsam manuscripts became intertwined
with Zenzl’s life. That is why the article devotes space to Zenzl’s biography and
attempts to answer the following questions connected to the archive: how did the
manuscripts get to the Soviet Union? Why is the archive uncomplete? Finally,
I discuss the publication history of Scheerbart letters from the IWL collection.
Keywords: Paul Scheerbart, Erich Mühsam, Zenzl Mühsam, Hans-Heinz Ewers, letters, archive, IWL
The essay focuses on the Society of Peasants Writers (hereafter referred
as VOKP) that changed a number of names in the course of its existence — All-Russian Peasants’ Union of Writers (1921–1925), All-Russian Society of Peasant Writers
(1925–1930), All-Russian Association of Proletarian and Kolkhoz writers (1931), and
Russian society of Proletarian and Kolkhoz Writers (1931–1932). Its main objective
was the implementation of the state program for the “village reconstruction” (Vladimir
Lenin) in the spirit of “raskrestyanivanie” [de-peasant-ring]. IWL archives (fund 156)
contain rich materials on the history of the two periods of VOKP’s activity, its agendas
as well as evidence of its creative and ideological work with aspiring village writers. In
the frst period, 1921–1927, the Society rendered real help to peasants, primarily in literary studies, within the framework of the so called struggle against the peasantry ignorance. After 1927, albeit VOKP was extended, the activity of the Society concentrated
on the crusade against the kulak and petty-bourgeois ideology. While the All-Russian
Peasants’ Union of Writers was being transformed into the Russian Society of Proletarian and Kolkhoz Writers, the Society tried to decide who was a “true” or “genuine”
peasant writer and who therefore had the right to instruct beginners. The work of «kulak
poets» such as S.A.Yesenin and N.A.Klyuyev was no longer considered appropriate for
the poetical education of younger people. Drawing on the reviews of the poetical works
from the VOKP fund, the essay seeks to understand how the Society evaluated ideology
and aesthetics of these works, what kind of advice and recommendations it gave to the
authors and eventually what were the criteria for publication and for the VOKP membership. The article argues that conformity to the so called Proletarian and Kolkhoz ideology was becoming into the defning principle of evaluation and acceptance. Letters and
manuscripts sent by peasant writers’ to VOKP, however, tell a diﬀerent story. They reﬂect
thoughts and ideas expressed by the dwellers of Soviet villages, communes, and collective
farms of the 1920’s — early 1930’s and show that their authors did not share many aspects
of the state policy.
Keywords: Society of Peasants Writers, the task of “raskrestyanivaniye” [de-peasant-ring] of the village, periodization, literary studies, ideological setups, “kulak poets,” VOKP Fund in the IWL archive collection
The A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature is acknowledged center of the international Gorky Studies. The paper discusses all the stages of the development of the Gorky research from 1937 to the present. The Institute published:
Gorky’s collected works in 30 volumes (1949–1955), complete academic edition of
his fctional works in 25 volumes, and 10 volumes of their editions (1968–1980). It
is publishing a second series of Letters in 24 volumes (18 volumes have come out in
the period from 1997 through 2016). Among other publications, there are 12 volumes of the Gorky archives, 3 volumes of his Literary Heritage, and proceedings of
the annual “Gorky Readings.” A new phase of Gorky Studies began after the abandonment of a Marxist-Leninist approach to literary studies. This phase is characterized by the objectivity of scholarly analysis, focus on the obscure spots of Gorky’s
biography and work, and use of the hitherto unknown archival materials. In parallel
to the publication of Letters (a third part of letters in each volume is published for
the frst time), IWL resumed a series entitled M. Gorky. Materials and Research: in
1998–2016 there were published 13 collections, now two more are getting ready for
publication. These editions include Gorky’s correspondence with V. Lenin, I. Stalin, L. Kamenev, G. Zinoviev, G. Berya and others, documentary testimony of the
writer’s ailment and death, and hitherto unknown memories of his contemporaries.
The serial publication of Gorky Readings reﬂects the work of the annual academic
conferences held in Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, and Kazan. These proceedings have
rendered Gorky Studies to a new methodological level in that they attempt to reveal the face of the “real” Gorky, deprived of both a classical gloss and unjustifed
Keywords: M. Gorky, art, works, books, letters, edition
This is an analytical overview of the International Conference “Esenin
in Literature and Culture of the Peoples of Russia and Abroad” held on September
22–24, 2016 in Moscow and Ryazan region. The conference was devoted to the
understudied question of Esenin Studies, that is Esenin’s reception in literature and
culture of diﬀerent nations. The papers made it clear that Esenin has signifcantly
inﬂuenced the development of the image of Russian literature and culture in many
diﬀerent countries. Esenin’s recognition is facilitated by numerous translations of
his poetry into foreign languages. Interest to Esenin and his work arouse during his
lifetime; in those years alone, his works became translated into 17 foreign languages.
Attention to Esenin’s heritage increased in the year of the 100th anniversary of his
birth and continues unabated up to our days. In recent years, international Esenin
Studies have been founded, with IWL RAS as its center. They examine the work of
the Russian poet in a broad historical, cultural, and literary context. Not only literary
scholars and linguists but also historians, art historians, and musicologists are engaged
in the study of Esenin’s reception, his biography and contacts. An integrated approach
allows apply the methodology of diﬀerent disciplines to the study of Esenin’s heritage.
The conference will result in Esenin’s encyclopedia, currently in progress.
Keywords: S. Esenin, international conference, reception of Russian literature, interdisciplinary approach, Esenin Studies
The essay focuses on visual images as one of the means of the writer’s reception
on the example of such forms of preserving memory about Dmitry S. Merezhkovsky as
autobiography and photography, on the one hand, and memoir and caricature, on the
other. Photographic image comes close to autobiography in the following aspects. First,
there is a functional affinity between these two forms, a verbal one and a visual one: both
share the desire for authenticity. At the same time, photography as autobiography has not
just documentary potential: photographic image is equally capable of reproducing and of
reducing or distorting reality. Finally, photography (and this is its another affinity with
a documentary genre) presents not only individual and personal but also cultural and
historical interest. Between caricature and memoir — another pair of media preserving
verbal and visual memory about the writer — there are overlaps as well. These “spaces”
of memory have bigger potential for interpretation of the image than photography or
autobiography. I prove this point by analyzing specific details that were emphasized by
caricatures and memoirs of Merezhkovsky. At the same time, I argue that caricature as
a visual “space” of memory is not self-sustained the same way photography and portrait
are. The other aspect the essay is concerned with the elements of the memory about the
writer that remain untranslatable into visual language. Methodologically, the essay relies
on the works by N.I. Zhinkin, Y.N. Tyanyanov, Y.M. Lotman, R. Barthes, and S. Sontag.
Keywords: D.S. Merezhkovsky, reception, memory, autobiography, photography, memoir, caricature
The article deals with the way a literary work “creates” a document out of itself, on the
example of Paul Auster’s novels. A document here is the report of a character, a private
detective who is watching another character (a writer) but also the book of a fictional writer
who is writing a story of the detective who is watching him, and eventually the book about
this whole story. In this case, the search for the other, watching him, is inevitably associated
with the search for oneself, self-observation. Biography becomes autobiography, e.g.
a document rather than a narrative based on a document. This story becomes projected
on the story of Don Quixote (of which “some” Paul Auster, a fictional writer, is writing an
essay). The Other is a landmark in the vast desert of fictional worlds where Paul Auster’s
Don Quixote wanders alongside other characters of the trilogy. The author may not return
from his endless journey through imaginary worlds; his life does not belong to either real
life or fiction. He gives life to his characters while remaining invisible himself. Paul Auster’s
The New York Trilogy explores such existential situation where the only evidence of the
author’s life is a document left by his character. The author leaves a documentary record
of a kind about his own existence. It this sense, literature is a document of life and of the
endless search for a reason to the existence of an individual who, being not equal to himor herself, is always the other and never a type or a template.
Keywords: literary theory, literary work, document, author, character, Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy
Media Archaeology is an emerging methodology that analyses media as modes
of communication shaped by scientific innovations, cultural and social values, and
imaginary representations. It also questions evolutions and ruptures in Media Cultures
from Modernity and possibly before. This paper aims to demonstrate that this method
offers a new approach to Production/Reception Theories in History of Literature, and
an innovative way to define Medieval ‘Mediality’, with possible connections to our most
recent practices. French allegorical drama offers a case study for an Archaeology of Seeing
in the 15th–16th centuries. The article first analyses how morality plays sought to influence
the public’s opinion in connecting optical science and technics with moral and religious
education. Enhancing the visual possibilities of theatrical performances, Medieval
allegorical drama emphathized that the medium was the message. It then investigates the
public’s various responses to the plays to grasp how they operated and how efficient they
Keywords: History of Culture; Performance Studies; Media Archaeology; Middle Ages and Early Modern Times
Diderot approaches the notions of work and author in a wide variety of ways. His works are “works” only because they “work” in the sense that they transform from within the categories of author and reader, blurring the boundaries between text and paratext, between center and periphery. The purpose of this article is to show that this deconstruction is deeply linked to Diderot’s conception of “literary” creation. This highlights the importance of the notion of threshold for Diderot, which means what precedes and surrounds a text, its margins. It is from this perspective that this article proposes to read some of Diderot’s epigraphs.
Keywords: Diderot, author, reader, epigraphs, paratext
The interest of contemporary literary theory and literary history in the problem of fictional space and in the space in the 18 th century novels in particular reveals both achievements and gaps in this field. The latest studies have shed light on the intimization and feminization of the fictional space in rococo novels and have defined the spatial units in such novels by Crébillon-fils as L’Écumoire ou Tanza ï et Néadarné, Le Sopha, and Les Égarements du cœur et de l’esprit. However, the inner-novel spatial relationships have been generally neglected. Juxtaposition of the topography of such novels as L’Astrée by Honoré d’Urfé, La Princesse de Clèves by Madame de La Fayette, and the novels by Crébillon-fils demonstrates that rhetorical theatricality of the baroque and classicist space had been replaced in these works by de-theatralization and topographical abstraction of rococo novels. Purely verbal, playful voyeurism of the novels by Crébillonfils does not match with topographical precision of pose and gesture as described in the frivolous erotic writings of the period (as, for example in “Thérèse-philosophe”). Transformation of rhetorical spatial topoi of the baroque and classicist periods occurs in the works of Crébillon-fils, as it does in the works of other authors of rocaille novels, through naturalizing and psychologizing the novel’s generic features.
Keywords: fictional space, baroque, classicism, rococo, generic features of the novel, intimacy, naturalization, psychologizing
The article focuses on different takes on the subject of suffering in Italian literature of the beginning of the 19 th century. Being a feature topic of the Romantic literature, it is intimately linked with the central Romantic interest in a person’s probing into “selfhood,” into spiritual depths and moral assets. My focus is on two works of the first half of the 19 th century. Namely, Ugo Foscolo’s novel Ultime lettere di Jacopo Ortis, which deals with all major Romantic concerns of the epoch of the national liberating movement of the Risorgimento, and a book by a hero and cultural activist of this epoch Silvio Pellico Le mie prigioni. The latter is a key text of the Romantic Lombardy school, marked by moralistic Christian views typical for this school and by the appealing artistic truthfulness of its narration. The very concept of suffering and the image of “an unhappy youth” caught a number of unique highlights under the pen of these writers. To the foreground of the romantic scope of sufferings, they have brought a very strong feeling of national pride abused by usurpers. The literature of the Risorgimento takes its “unhappy youth” through different stages of the offended patriotic sentiment and makes him seek an individual path earned by hard personal suffering, which is an alternative to the familiar Italian bitter lot. It is possible to seek and find such independence, if not by battling with the motherland’s enemies, then by plunging into the riches of the inner soul, mind, faith in Providence, or even in a prepared and symbolic act of wilful taking of one’s own life.
Keywords: Romanticism, Risorgimento, suffering, “unhappy young man,” Ugo Foscolo, Ultime lettere di Jacopo Ortis, Silvio Pellico Le mie prigioni
The article examines historical novels by J.G. Lockhart and T. Moore hitherto under- studied in Russia. It analyzes main principles and techniques of historical narrative in these novels; the influence of Walter Scott and F.R. Chateaubriand; philosophical Epicureanism in the novels; and the specificity of their work with historical sources. The author comes to the following conclusions. Lockhart’s and Moore’s reflection on time and history results in the idea that every man is connected with the whole of creation, and that the culture of each epoch depends on the culture of earlier civilizations. Lockhart’s novel Valerius, for example, was influenced by the genre of the Enlightenment philosophical novella. Such categories as time, the meaning of life, death, place, and role of man in history are intro- duced in the narrative through the form of philosophical dialogue. Following the tradi- tion of F.R. Chateaubriand, Lockhart, and Moore largely draw on literary heritage: texts by Homer, Virgil, Horace, Cicero as well as philosophical works of antiquity: the writings of Epicurus, Lucretius, and Plato. Historical novels by Lockhart and Moore reveal cer- tain important aspects of the ethical and philosophical system of the 19 th century Victorian England.
Keywords: historical novel; genre; philosophic system; tradition; antique philosophy; Epicureanism, Christianity, historical sources; historical narration
In the 1990s and in the beginning of the 20 th century, Congolese and Ivorian literatures witnessed the birth of a new character, an African with bifurcated mentality that, on the one hand, keeps, at least on the superficial level, affinities with archaic consciousness while, on the other hand, is characterized by emerging individualistic and egotistic ambitions. In the mainstream genre of the novel-story, action is replaced by reflection and inner monologue that are typical of self-reflective literature. A character of the novel Le chercheur d’Afriques by a Congolese Lopes is a teacher of Nantes seeking the Africa in his childhood memories about his white father, a doctor. Various cultural values and notions merge in his consciousness. He is asocial, obsessed with one maniacal idea, and passive aggressive; when he presents himself to his father, the latter dies. Champs de bataille et d’amour by an Ivorian Tadjo represents the inner world of a married couple — a university professor and his white wife. Socially passive, obsessed with themselves, they are alienated from both the social life and each other. Widening of the mental horizon with the help of scientific knowledge and contacts with the Western culture accompanied by the simultaneous collapse of the archaic collective consciousness results at best in abstract dreaming as in the case of the astronomer in Dongala’s novel Les petits gar ç ons naissent aussi des é toile. At worst — with sociopathic behavior and madness as in the novel L’impasse by a Congolese Biyaoula where the character-sociopath ends up in a psychiatric clinic. Existential dead-end is the theme of the postmodernist novel Le monsieur Ki. Rapsodie parisi è nne à sourire pour caresser le temps by an Ivorian Kwahul é . A Congolese Sony Labou Tansi was the only writer whose satirical trilogy about Beregue (fictional name) written in the style of avant-garde realism (with the use of postmodernist devices) managed to represent the types of bifurcated consciousness of the African in their diversity and create a solid picture of the contemporary Africa.
Keywords: consciousness, bifurcation, sapiention, imagology, magic realism, avant- garde realism
“The Tale of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Kazan” is related to other Old Russian tales with the motif of apparition or discovery of the icon of Our Lady. Reading this tale in comparison with the tales of Kolochskaya, Tikhvin, Okovetskaya, and Vydropusskaya icons, I will focus on the structure of its plot motifs that organize the tale’s narrative. The essay reveals a combination of traditional and novel features in the construction of the text and the specificity of the story. The latter was determined by some general trends in the development of Russian literature at the end of the 16 th century as well as by the social circumstances in the newly added Kazan State and by the official position of the Kazan Metropolitan Hermogenes, a presumed author of the tale. A comparative reading reveals typicality and conventionality as regards the plot, the structure, and the language of the tale about the Kazan icon, despite the presence of new motifs and elements of authorial self- reflection. The author of the tale rigorously followed official ideological and aesthetic line as well as existing literary standards and was guided by the mainstream clerical, political, and spiritual ideas that did not favor descriptive exaggerations inspired by imagination, religious exaltation, and mysticism. There is a stark contrast between the conventional tale by Anonymous-Hermogenes and legends about Kolochskaya, Okovetskay, and (to some extent) Vydropusskaya icons of the Holy Virgin that represent narratives dramatically and stylistically close to the folk speech. Such reading gives grounds to certain conclusions about the peculiarities of the historical development of Russian literature in Moscow Rus’ of the second half of the 16 th century. The official line of its development was primarily aimed at the conservation and formalization of creative work.
Keywords: story, legend, plot, motive, narrative detail, literary tradition, canon, genre nature, comparison, mariology