INTIMISATION OF POLITICAL:
USSR AFTER THE «GREAT TURNING POINT»
This section opens with the article by Konstantin Bogdanov (Universität Konstanz, Konstanz / Institute of Russian Literature, St. Petersburg) «The right to sleep and conditioned responses: Lullabies in Soviet culture (1930s-1950s)». The author studies the causes and factors that contributed to the wide presence in Soviet culture (with its «modern» characteristics of self-description) of such an «archaic» genre as lullaby. Bogdanov uses broad material of the Stalin era lullabies that were widely performed on stage, published in the newspapers of the time and sung on screen to analyse the images of the unsleeping leader, of the child nation under his care and of the state authority as a guardian of family and general peace. «Large family» connotations permeate not only the planes of art and ideology but even the structure of scientific discourse on sleep problems, since the content of dreams and their development became a subject of state care and governmental intervention.
In his article «The Soviet ethos and radiofication of writing» Yuri Murashov (Universität Konstanz) describes the Soviet ethos as a special matrix of collective imaginative, built on an idée fixe of demonstrating the unity and homogeneity of the Soviet people as a «new social community». The radio media as a new collective form of social communication becomes one of the most important instruments of that demonstration in the mid-1930s. Murashov is basing his work on Niclas Luhmann's concept of impossibility of communication and demonstrates the causes of the radio expansion during that era. Attention to the radio media was dictated by the fact that it was built on the principle of audial communication of «here and now» - as opposed to mediated and principally ambiguous poetics of writing and printed word. But the victory of Socialism in the mid-1930s also meant that literature had to orient itself by both principally and technically foreign solidifying principles and social self-representing features of the radio media.
«POSTACADEMIC» PHILOLOGY OF THE 1910s-1920s: IDEAS AND INSTITUTIONS
Sergei Gindin (Russian State University for the Humanities [RSUH], Moscow) in his article «The first conflict between the two generations of the founders of Russian prosody» brings to light the reasons for the young members of the Moscow
Linguistic Circle (Roman Jacobson, Osip Brik and Boris Tomashevsky) launching a harsh attack on the late book of the Symbolist maitre Valery Brusov «Prosody» (1918). Symbolic confrontation with the scholarship of the previous generation (Brusov's prosody and Potebnya's linguistics) proved to be a solidifying factor for the new institution. At the same time Vyacheslav Ivanov moved to protect Brusov. That action did not mitigate the harshness of the conflict since within that confrontation social factors overweighted any theoretical arguments an opponent might offer. An Appendix contains minutes of four Moscow Linguistic Circle sessions that took place in the autumn of 1918.
Raffaella Vassena's (Milan State University, Milan, Italy) article «On reconstructing the history and activities of the Living Word Institute (1918-1924)» is dedicated to a Petrograd institute that was attempting to work out the theory and practice of language interaction (including practical aspects of literary life). On
V. Vsevolodsky-Gerngross' initiative a unique educational and study platform was created as a contact ground for medics, speech therapists, teachers, formal school literary scholars, writers and sociologists. A new understanding of peculiarities of verbal art produced within the limits of that institute is considered to be a kind of a bridge between the pre-revolutionary synaesthetic and syncretic interpretation of a word adopted by the Symbolists and the new propaganda-oriented instrumentalisation of speech adopted by the Bolsheviks who consistently supported the purpose of the institute. The article also publishes materials on the project plan for the Living Word Institute and the results of the institute's work.
Craig Brandist and Ekaterina Choun (Sheffield University, Sheffield, Great Britain) in their article «On the pre-history of the Living Word Institute: minutes of the Artistic Word Courses» present materials from the Institute of the Living Word are scattered in various archives, both personal and institutional. Certain lines of research at the institute were anticipated by the journal «Voice and Speech» in the immediate pre-Revolutionary period. The oratory section of the Institute was transformed into Courses in Speech Techniques in 1924, and aspects of the research at the institute were continued at the Institute of the Western and Eastern Literatures and the State History of Art Institute in Leningrad.
HISTORY OF RUSSIAN LITERATURE OF THE 1810s-1820s:
NEW ARCHIVAL FINDINGS
Dmitry Ivanov (Tartu University). «Who was the Author of The Comedy against the comedy, or The Lesson to ladies' men?» The paper, focusing on the comedy presented in 1815 on the St. Petersburg stage in defence of Shakhovskoi's The Lesson to coquettes and traditionally attributed to Mikhail Zagoskin. Nevertheless, some of the contemporary evidences and newly found clues demand of reopening the case of this authorship. After detail investigation of the polemical and theatrical context, textual analysis, and examination of the comedy's draft manuscript, we have arrived at a conclusion, that the play was written by Zagoskin under the direction and with the assistance of Shakhovskoi.
The article by Aleksei Balakin (Institute of Russian Literature of Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg) and Michail Velizhev (RSUH, Moscow) «New poems by I.I. Dmitriev. I. "On the demise of A.L.P"» discusses the late works (1820s-1830s) by Ivan Ivanovich Dmitriev (1760-1837). The picture of Dmitriev's poetic activity (an authoritative writer and a retired major state official) becomes considerably more rich due to introduction of archive material: a notebook «My poems from 1822», that contains a quantity of previously unpublished poems. The authors provide an in-depth commentary of the poem «On the demise of A.L.P» (1824) - A.L.P being Anna Lvovna Pushkina, a sister of
V.L. Pushkin, an aunt of A.S. Pushkin and a might-have-been bride of Dmitriev himself.
CHANCE, GAME AND PARALLELS
IN THE WORKS OF V.V. NABOKOV
Arkady Bliumbaum (The Russian Art History Institute / Forum for Anthropology and Culture, St. Petersburg) in his article «Antihistoricism as an Aesthetic Position: Towards a Problem "Nabokov and Bergson"» examines Nabokov's antihistoricism as a foundation of his descriptive poetics. Nabokov's position was strongly opposed to the determinist view of History (represented by a bunch of thinkers, from Spengler to Berdiaev, not to say about politicians, like Lenin). Instead, the «divine» chance had a pride of place in Nabokov's thinking and structure of his prose writing. The so-called laws of History were associated by Nabokov with repetitions and similitudes, repugnant predictability of the world. But as a writer he was interested in, riveted to differences, all the things unpredictable. Thus, Nabokov's antideterminism in History became transformed into his literary practice, his famous poetics that was based upon the description of «unique», perceptible here and now, almost proverbial, visual minutiae of his novels and short stories. From the point of view of the author of the article, Nabokov elaborated this position under the influence of the indeterminist philosophy of Henry Bergson.
Maria Pirogovskaya (St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg). Being dedicated to the historical and literary contexts of Vladimir Nabokov's sonnet cycle on chess, this article shows how the adolescent poetry paves the way for sophisticated Nabokovian prose and explores the origins of the famous comparison of chess problems with poetry. The author proposes the existence of intertextual connections between the chess cycle and some poems by Boris Pasternak and demonstrates the specific repulsive interaction between two poetics.
UNBELIEVABLE ADVENTURES OF FEMINISM IN RUSSIA
This collection of materials is devoted to gender reflection in Russian culture of the 20th century in general but especially in modern one in particular. Though feminist theories found no understanding in the university circles they adapted successfully in the Post-modern art and literary society and contributed to creation of works of art where gender issues became a subject or a pretext for aesthetic reflection.
Rashit Yangirov (The Russkoe Zarubezhje Library-Fund, Moscow) in his article «The body and reflected light. Notes on the émigré female prose and on Zinaida Gippius' unwritten book "Women and the feminine"» analyses the part played by female authors in the Russian émigré literature and point at the fact that many of such authors used male pen-names. He also uses archival materials to reconstruct the design of a book on feminine psychology that Zinaida Gippius, a poet, intended to write. Apparently the main idea of the book was supposed to be based on the polemics with Otto Weininger's theory.
Irina Savkina (University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)'s article «Aggravation Factors» scrutinises how the ideas of feminist criticism and gender studies are perceived and discussed in contemporary Russian academia and in the wider sphere of humanities. The author focuses on what kind of conflicts and problems appear when Russian humanists, especially philologists, apply feminist methodology in their own work.
Anna Ulura (Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature, National Academy of Sciences, Kyiv, Ukraine) in her article «"Men have their own benchmark, women have their own, separate one": the idea and practices of positive discrimination in the literary process of Post-Soviet Russia» analyses the processes of canon-production (and critical canon-overhauling) linked to the peculiarities of representation of the social and cultural phenomenon of «feminine prose» in the literary life of Post-Soviet Russia. The author pays special attention to the mechanisms of «positive discrimination» applied to the Post-Soviet female-produced texts (publication of thematic collections, forming of gender-marked series, the notion of «gender quotes» in the current prize-allocation) and to the corresponding publishing and expert strategies where structuring and movement of the current literary flow are concerned.
A poet and a philosoph Aleksandr Skidan (St. Petersburg) in his essay «Child-Inside» juxtaposes two works - Ivan Bunin's (1870-1953) short story «Light breathing» and a video installation by a modern Russian artist Glucklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya) with the same title, used as part of the artist's performance in Szczecin, Poland, in 2005. Skidan demonstrates as a «close» reading of that videoinstallation created by a female artist allows to change not only the classical but also the modern deconstructivist interpretations of this famous work by Bunin, based on problematising traditional constructs like «youth» and «beauty».
SOCIAL PHOBIAS IN MODERN RUSSIAN NOVEL
The authors of this section analyse the novels by Russian writers published in the mid-2000s that represent current social phobias - most often they are represented metaphorically by way of dramatising historical episodes or Russia's near political future. Aleksandr Chantsev (Moscow) in his article «Anti-Utopia Factory» uses a considerable number of examples to demonstrate how similarly expressed apocalyptic motives and a refusal to «construct the future» manifest themselves in the works of artists of diverging political and aesthetical persuasions: popular journalists Dmitry Bykov and Sergei Dorenko, Russian Buker Prize laureate Olga Slavnikova, Vladimir Sorokin, a writer who combines the features of avant-garde and mass culture and many others. Ilya Kukulin (The New Literary Observer magazine, Moscow)'s article «Heroisation of Survival» is devoted to the in-depth analysis of the novels of one of the most successful Russian prose-writers, Aleksei Ivanov. Liberal critics accuse him of nationalism and sexism, yet Ivanov himself voices in his works a protest against clericalism and etatism. Kukulin thinks that this combination of contradictory mythologems that is present in Ivanov's prose and his interviews is also characteristic of modern Russian middle class, especially in the provinces. The writer is giving voice to their fears and their wish to distance themselves from the state pressure. The article interprets Ivanov's description of historical transformations as a shift from history to posthistory that could also represent an allegorical expression of experiencing the transition from the dynamic but frightening in its anomie society of the 1990s to the society of the 2000s, stable but lacking any stimuli for development .
POETRY FESTIVALS OF THE 2007
One of the most dynamic forms of literary life in the Eastern Europe are the poetry festivals that attract huge numbers of young listeners. In this issue we present reviews that analyse social and aesthetic aspects of two such festivals: Maria Maiofis and Ilya Kukulin (both - The New Literary Observer magazine, Moscow) discuss the third annual festival «Poeteka» (Durres, Albania, April-May of 2007), and Dmitri Kuz'min (The ARGO-RISK Publishing House, Moscow) writes about a festival of the three Eastern Slavic countries (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) «Kiev laurels», that took place in Kiev in May 2007.
The issue also contains an obituary to a well-known poet Vladimir Ufland (1939- 2007), written by Lev Losev (Dartmouth College, Dartmouth).