This article examines the understudied subjects of Lermontov life and work: his stay at the Moscow noble boarding school and his direct engagement in Cepheus, a literary annual run by the literary circle of Raich, where Lermontov’s first work, “Thoughts, Extracts, and Reflections…” was published. The author proves the authorship of Lermontov’s “Thoughts…” that was included in the sixth volume of the academic edition of his works under the category of “Dubia” but excluded from many later editions. Close reading of “Thoughts...” and a comparative study of selected fragments with Lermontov’s letters to M.A. Shan-Girey demonstrate that even this early essay drawing ontological differences between the principles of classicism and Romanticism bears the imprint of the Early Romantic aesthetics. The analysis reveals typological similarities between “Thoughts…” and the ideas of Jena school that were most fully manifested in the writings of Schlegel brothers thoroughly studied in the literary circle of Raich. In a section devoted to aesthetic views of S.E. Raich, the author disagrees with those researchers who consider him to be either archaist or classicist and claims that he was an adept of Jena school rather than a “neopetrarchist.” Ideas discussed in the circle and during the lectures influenced Lermontov as his future work testifies. Within the period of 1829–1831, he published a Byronic poem “June 11, 1831,” on the one hand, and a poem “Angel” that echoes the ideas of Wackenroder, on the other hand. If for Raich, a combination of these two conflicting Romantic schools was inconceivable, for young Lermontov, it was a natural outcome of his apprenticeship period since each school offered him the means to understand the essence of Romantic method as such.
Keywords: Lermontov, Jena Romanticism, early phase, literary circle of Raich, “Thoughts, Extracts, and Reflections…,” aesthetic, literary influence
The theme of doom and resurrection is a constant in Andrej Belyj’s works. Catastrophism on the personal, national, overarching cultural and cosmic planes are always present. To a significant degree, of course, he draws upon Revelation, but he has a recurrent need of Isaiah’s Apocalypse and its mighty prophecy about the “city of confusion” that is condemned for its sinfulness and destroyed by the vengeful God to eventually arise in a new form. It is no coincidence that in his great novels, Belyj condemns Petersburg and Moscow as breeding grounds of disease. He regards urban civilization as hostile to humans and contrary to nature. His collected works are an echo chamber abounding in quotations and allusions. Especially often he quotes himself, returning to borrowed key phrases. An especially important passage about the sinful city from the Isaiah Apocalypse — “Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth” — runs throughout Belyj’s oeuvre (since his letters should also be regarded as one of his artistic genres).
Keywords: Belyj’s prose, Isaiah Apocalypse, catastrophism, modern city, sinfulness, echochamber, quotations
The article analyzes the specificity of the pre-emigrant work by Igor Severyanin and its poetics (absurdity, paradox, mixture of style, nonsense, and exaggeration) against the rapid development of popular literature at the turn of the 19 th and 20 th centuries and the rise of parodic genres in particular. Beginning his literary career, the young poet had to develop his own style deriving from the preceding generations of poets — elder and younger generations of Russian Symbolists. Most likely, his style developed as a conscious parody of Symbolist themes, images, masks, and stylistic devices. Critics (K. Mochulsky, W. Hovin, and О. Kushlina) already pointed at the overlaps between Severyanin and other Symbolists and featured parodic elements in the work of the former. The rapid development of the genre of literary parody in the Russian literature at the turn of 19 th and 20 th centuries was likely to inspire Severyanin to use parody techniques in his work. To prove this hypothesis, the essay compares Severyanin’s poems with those of his elder contemporaries, such as V. Bryusov and K. Bal’mont and with literary parodies by S. Gorny, K. Chukovsky, and A. Blok that were famous in the early 20 th century. I read some of Severyanin’s poems as hidden parodies or “ambiguous texts.” They are different from traditional parodies in that they may be perceived as serious and independent works in case the background knowledge about their literary context is lost and also depending on the reader’s individual viewpoint.
Keywords: ransformation of Symbolism, irony, parody, poetics of the “shift.”
The aspiration to create a better, fairer world is a central theme in Platonov’s work.
In 1927 Maksim Gorky had praised Platonov’s first collection of stories. In the late 1920s
and early 1930s Platonov had asked Gorky for help in getting work published. In early 1934,
however, Gorky was able to arrange for Platonov to be included in a “brigade” of writers to
be sent to Central Asia; the intention was to publish a collective work in celebration of ten
years of Soviet Turkmenistan. Platonov first visited Central Asia in 1934 as a member of
a “writers’ brigade.” He returned for a longer period in 1935. The main fruit of his visits was
the short novel DZHAN, translated into English as SOUL. In terms of plot, the work appears
typically Soviet, but Platonov’s concerns are deeper, encompassing profound questions of
religion, philosophy, ecology, the importance of tradition and the nature of love. In the
story “Among Animals and Plants” (1936) Platonov demonstrates a similar tender concern
both for the natural world and for all the oppressed and repressed whose stories will never
be told — for those who have been sacrificed in the name of some future utopia. And the
story “The Return” (1946) marks Platonov’s renunciation of utopian longing and his most
definitive acceptance of the everyday world, with all its imperfections. The article ends with
a discussion of some of the difficulties faced by a translator of Platonov — and some of the
insights that can arise from the struggle with such difficulties.
Keywords: writers’ brigade, Central Asia, Zoroastrianism, Sufism, spiritual and cultural traditions, ecology, deserts, White Sea canal, Karelia, Soviet railways, Shklovsky, Stalin, translation
The essay focuses on the development of a new Belarusian literature in the early decades of the 20 th century and the ways Belarusian writers reflected on the perspectives of the national literary development. During this period, literary works to some extent took on the functions of literary criticism and literary studies. The works of the founders of the new Belarusian literature contained ideas about the nature of creative writing and the relation of literature to reality. In 1913, there took place an important discussion on the correlation of the social and aesthetic content in literature. A prominent Belarusian poet Maxim Bogdanovich was not directly involved in this discussion but his prose piece “Apocrypha” was an indirect response to the discussants. This story is written in the form of a parable. It tells about Jesus Christ coming on earth. Christ answers the question of a folk singer whether his art may serve simple peasants who toil in the busy season. Working people need beauty like all the rest of us, says Christ. The artist should not reproach himself for idleness because his work serves people. In many other classical works by Yanka Kupala, Yakub Kolas, Maxim Bogdanovich, and other writers of the early 20 th century, creative process too becomes a subject of self-reflection. The poem “Symon- Musician” by Yakub Kolas shows that the artist’s life experience is a priceless treasure, which is subject to artistic reflection and transformation. Belarusian classical literature that emerged in the early 20 th century thus faced a difficult challenge; it had to outbalance the social orientation of literary works with artistic quests. This task was eventually solved and this experience remains actual and useful in our time.
Keywords: Belarusian literature, artistic self-reflection, creative process, the social and the aesthetic
The essay focuses on the mythopoetic image of the apple tree and its ritual use in
traditional culture and folklore of the Slavic nations. The work employs folklore material
alongside ethnographic and linguistic data that accentuates and develops the folklore
symbolism of the apple tree. I argue that this image is comprised of a number of relatively
autonomous fragments. The apple tree and its apples are a family metaphor of a kind
symbolizing a mother and a child. In wedding folklore, the apple tree stands for a bride as the
wedding ritual testifies; apple tree branches are widely used in the ritual itself (as a ritual
tree or as material used in the making of a wedding banner, wedding wreaths, decorations
for a wedding loaf [karavai], etc.). Another manifestation of the apple tree in folklore is the
tree of knowledge; it relates the image to a large number of legendary etiological plots
such as: Eve’s temptation by the Serpent, fall of Eve and Adam, the origin of Adam’s Apple
(adam), prohibition to eat apples before the church holiday of Transfiguration and some
others. At the same time, their autonomy regardless, the fragments of the mythopoetic
image of the apple tree form part of the solid folklore universe and counteract with each
other within this framework.
Keywords: apple tree, symbolism, ethnobotany, Slavs
In his essay “The Russians on Capri” (1924), a Russian journalist Mikhail Pervukhin describes the discovery of Capri by Russian artists and writers before the events of 1905 and the development of the Russian colony on the island afterwards. Pervukhin relates the origin and the history of the Russian colony on Capri to the period from 1906 through 1913, when the island became a residence of Russian political immigrants. He sees Gorky’s arrival on Capri as a major catalyzer in the development of the colony due to the defining and formative nature of the political and literary activity of the latter. The Russian revolution of 1905 had radically changed the structure of the Russian population on Capri: since that time it mostly consisted of political refugees. Pervukhin’s evidence is one of the most important documents on Gorky’s reception in Italy. Pervukhin left documentary and artistic evidence of Gorky’s residence on the island written with a special focus on Gorky’s role in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and its critical reconsideration. The author emphasized the political component in the life of the colony. He criticized activities of the Capri school for workers founded by Gorky and Lunacharsky. According to Pervukhin, Russian revolutionaries were indifferent to the beauty of the island and to the “eternal” values swept away by the storm of the October Revolution.
Keywords: Gorky, Lunacharsky, Pervukhin, the history of “The Russians on Capri,” the Capri school
This essay analyzes portraits in several editions of The Fiery Angel published during
Bryusov’s lifetime and claims that the portrait was as a universal point of convergence for
verbal and visual arts. The dialogue between literature and graphics in the context of the
synthesis of arts sheds new light on the possibilities for interdisciplinary research. The
time of the “beautiful book” was a time of great artists and illustrators who introduced
the peculiarities of their own style and the manner of their artistic schools into their art.
Books were commonly decorated with vignettes and famous paintings. Portraits, as well
as plates in general, were of the highest quality. They were ornamental and illusory, with
every minute detail finely drawn out. Yet, in the second edition of the novel Bryusov
deliberately included medieval engravings and portraits. A comparative analysis of
the verbal portraits in The Fiery Angel and engraved portraits in the book (Ruprecht,
Heinrich, Faust, Mephistopheles, Renata, and Madiel) demonstrates that both the
main and the secondary characters of the novel are picturesque and multidimensional
whereas the xylographic portraits rather reveal conventionality and simplicity of the
medieval time. This way Bryusov was seeking to debase clichе’s, especially as regards
Agrippa von Nettesheim and Faust: according to Bryusov, the character of Agrippa had
already become a clichе’d image and so was the popular engraving of the scientist that he
reproduced in the middle of the sixth chapter of the 1909 edition. Juxtaposing the verbal
and the graphic portraits in The Fiery Angel helps us better understand the function of
the verbal portrait in a Symbolist text that was determined by the author’s design, on the
one hand, and by various “instruments” of different arts, on the other.
Keywords: Valery Bryusov, portrait, The Fiery Angel, Symbolism, symbolic novel, synthesis of arts
Contemporary notion of style as a set of rules that allows the author choose and combine
the elements of content and form when producing a literary work (V.V. Vinogradov,
A.N. Sokolov et al.) was in many respects prefigured in “The Arte of English Poesie”
(1589) attributed to G. Puttenham, and most of the principles stated in it were mirrored
in Edmund’s Spenser’s Epithalamion (1595). The style of the poem is remarkable for its
combination of heterogeneous elements borrowed from both the earlier epithalamic
tradition and the toolbox of such arts as music, painting, and architecture. A number of
papers published in recent decades have revealed the picturesqueness and musicality of the
poem seeing Epithalamion as a work bearing typical characteristics of the poet’s idiostyle.
This paper suggests that there is a possibility to single it out from the rest of Spenser’s
work and read it as a poem which peculiar style that results from the interplay of the
emergent grand styles of the time such as Mannerism and/or Baroque, on the one hand,
and the elements anticipating Neo-Classicism, on the other. The elaborate Mannerist/
Baroque structure of Epithalamion is permeated with the number symbolism supporting
the idea of the perfect harmony of the wedlock blessed by Holy Church in the bridal poem,
while its Neo-Classical elements reveal Spenser as a successor of Sappho and Catullus.
In the concluding part of the essay, we attempt to evaluate how these peculiarities of the
Epithalamion style were rendered in Russian and Chinese translations of the poem.
Keywords: style, Baroque, Mannerism, Classicism, Elizabethan poetry, Edmund Spenser, Epithalamion
The paper examines the influence of heroic feminism on the construction of the autobiographical subject in the Memoirs by Mademoiselle de Montpensier (1627–1693), specifically in its Orleans episode. This episode is important as takes place in the central city of the
author’s hereditary estate. During the Fronde des Nobles, haven confirmed her power over
the city of Orleans, Mademoiselle tried to demonstrate that the nobles were the King’s true
support and that she was in opposition to Cardinal Mazarin. The article analyzes the way
the narrator’s actions in the city are described in the Memoirs in the light of the concept of
Jeanne d’Arc as the greatest champion of French national interest, promoted in historiography, drama (Vernulz, d’Aubignac etc.), and fiction (Beroalde de Verville). Two aspects of
Jeanne’s image, established by the mid-17th century, become most important in the Orleans
episode of the Memoirs: her heroic service to France and God’s miracle manifested in her
deeds. Jeanne d’Arc thus becomes part of a wider cultural context related to the tradition of
heroic feminism that may be traced back to the Ancient Greek goddess Athena and manifests
itself most fully in the image of “femmes fortes,” both historical and fictional (cf.: amazons
in Ariosto, Tasso or Corneille’s female characters). The comparison of the narrator of the
Memoirs with these images demonstrates that a peculiar ambience of the court and salon
culture of the period that was apt to glorify exceptional heroic women enabled the memoirist to describe her entry to Orleans as triumphant episode of her life and in accordance
with sublime understanding of her higher mission. Mademoiselle pictures herself as a courageous Princess worthy of Bourbon’s fame guided by Providence and loved by the people.
Keywords: memoirs, 17th century French Literature, Mademoiselle de Montpensier, heroic feminism, “femmes fortes,” Jeanne d’Arc, Ariosto, Tasso, Corneille
I propose to discuss Ernst Lubitsch’s decision to tailor Ninotchka (1939), his film with
Greta Garbo, to Garbo in the role of a Soviet revolutionary, which — given the overwhelming importance of Garbo to classical Hollywood — is how the October Revolution
is situated at the heart of American cinema at the time while Garbo’s proverbial cinematic melancholia is shown to entail the structures of affect residual to revolutions. Moreover, by divorcing Garbo’s revolutionary melancholia from melodrama and attaching it
to comedy, Lubitsch extricates this particular psychopolitics from the fact of genre, now
as an insight into the construction of film. Finally, I show how Lubitsch engages Russian
literature, especially Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, as a code-holder for Hollywood iconicity.
Keywords: Ernst Lubitsch, film, revolution, socialism, classical Hollywood, Leo Tolstoy
The article examines “theater” as a cultural and artistic universal that served as a means ofThe article examines “theater” as a cultural and artistic universal that served as a means of developing mindset and self-identity of the Austrian literary group “Young Vienna” at the thth turn of the 19 and 20 centuries. Theater as a metaphor of the human life becomes integral part of the poetics in the works of the group members. The essay examines ideas and fictional worlds of the writers belonging to the group against the context of their contemporary culture. It touches upon Russian perception of the aesthetics of Viennese theater (A. Block, A.J. Tairov) and involves retrospective evidences and reflections of Austrian authors (Stefan thth weig, G. Broch) on Vienna at the turn of the 19 and 20centuries. As soon as Habsburgs’ empire loses its political positions, the theatrical illusion becomes more and more important. Yet it is the “Young Vienna” that makes the idea of the theater all-pervading: this concept includes both the motif of hopeless masquerade (Schnitzler) and the motif of liberation from the false play of masks (Hofmannsthal). According to the concept of the group’s mastermind H. Bahr, the theater played essential role in the spiritual and aesthetic integration of Austria. References to the mystery genre, the street theater, the puppet theater may be traced in the plays written by the members of the group. Austrian authors reconstructed folk plays that enabled the mactualize primordial theatrical forms and inspired them to subtly play with these forms. For the “Young Vienna” group, theater becomes a projection of doubts and misgivings of their time. In place of a jaded actor, there comes a person without a mask who appears at once unprotected and open to acquire his or her “true” face.
Keywords: Austria, “Young Vienna,” theater, commedia dell’arte, masquerade, spiritual revival, H. Bahr, H. von Hofmannsthal, A. Schnitzler
This essay examines Gamiani, or Two Nights of Excess, erotic novel by Alfred de Musset
written at the beginning of the 1830s and widely popular in France until up to the 1920s.
When writing the novel that belongs to the tradition of “black Romanticism,” de Musset
was heavily drawing on the French tradition of libertinage, de Sade’s work in particular.
However, he substantially revised and transformed its aesthetical and philosophical
premises. The novel describing various sexual perversities of the main character, Gamiani,
adheres to the aesthetical principles of Romanticism that cultivated geniality but also
marginality seen as the symptom of exceptionalism. The character’s lesbian affairs may
be interpreted in terms of the urge for the infinite lust, or Romantic “abyss.” These motifs
became developed in Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil, especially in the poem “Lesbians.”
Keywords: Alfred de Musset, Charles Baudelaire, Romanticism, subjectivity, erotic literature
This article deals with the interpretation of the works by Mark Twain, famous American author, in the Russian pre-revolutionary periodical press (1872–1916). The objects
of research are critical articles, essays, reviews, correspondences, introductions to publications of Twain’s short stories and novels, obituaries, and other materials printed in central
and provincial magazines and newspapers. Perception of Twain in Russia was contingent
on many factors including political and cultural situation in the country, state of social
thought and literary criticism, newspaper and magazine conjuncture etc., always remaining polysemantic and conflicting. In different times, in the years of democratic rising or
reaction critics looked for something in Twain’s works that corresponded to the spirit of
their time and helped solve ideological and aesthetic problems. Twain had reputation of
either a “pure humorist” or a great writer, philosopher, and moralist. Democrats, liberals,
conservatives, feminists, adepts of realistic or naturalistic trends in art discussed Twain’s
works that became a source of knowledge about the United States and inspired polemics
about Russia’s further development. Twain was highly esteemed as the author of books for
children and young people. Yet his works that criticized monarchism and imperialism were
often ignored or abridged. The history of Twain’s interpretation in the Russian press serves
as evidence of the fact that perception of foreign literature is a dynamic and bumpy process, repeating itself and moving backwards but also getting to deeper levels of meanings.
Keywords: American literature, Mark Twain, Russian periodicals, literary criticism, journalism, social and cultural situation
This article examines the understudied subjects of Lermontov life and work: his stay
at the Moscow noble boarding school and his direct engagement in Cepheus, a literary
annual run by the literary circle of Raich, where Lermontov’s first poem, “Thoughts, Extracts, and Reflections…” was published. The author proves the authorship of Lermontov’s
“Thoughts…” that had been included in the sixth volume of the academic edition of his
works under the category of “Dubia” but had been excluded from many later editions.
Close reading of “Thoughts...” and a comparative study of selected fragments with Lermontov’s letters to M. A. Shan-Girey demonstrate that even this early essay drawing ontological differences between the principles of classicism and Romanticism bears the imprint of the Early Romantic aesthetics. The analysis reveals typological similarities between
“Thoughts…” and the ideas of Jena school that were most fully manifested in the writings
of brothers Schlegel brothers thoroughly studied in the literary circle of Raich. In a section
devoted to aesthetic views of S. E. Raich, the author disagrees with those researchers who
consider him to be either archaist or classicist and claims that he was an adept of Jena
school rather than a “neopetrarchist.” Ideas discussed in the circle and during the lectures
influenced the young poet as his future work testifies. Within the period of 1829-1831,
he published a Byronic poem “June 11, 1831,” on the one hand, and a poem “Angel” that
echoes the ideas of Wackenroder, on the other hand. If for Raich, a combination of these
two conflicting Romantic schools was inconceivable, for young Lermontov, it was a natural
outcome of his apprenticeship period since each school offered him the means to understand the essence of Romantic method as such.
Keywords: Lermontov, Jena Romanticism, early phase, literary circle of Raich, “Thoughts, Extracts, and Reflections…,” aesthetic, literary influence