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27.Журнал Сибирского федерального университета. Сер. Гуманитарные науки №5 2014

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Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Æóðíàë Ñèáèðñêîãî ôåäåðàëüíîãî óíèâåðñèòåòà
2014
Journal of Siberian Federal University
7 (5)
Ãóìàíèòàðíûå íàóêè
Humanities & Social Sciences
Редакционный совет:
академик РАН Е.А. Ваганов
академик РАН И.И. Гительзон
академик РАН А.Г. Дегерменджи
академик РАН В.Ф. Шабанов
чл.-корр. РАН, д-р физ.-мат. наук
В.Л. Миронов
чл.-корр. РАН, д-р техн. наук
Г.Л. Пашков
чл.-корр. РАН, д-р физ.-мат. наук
В.В. Шайдуров
чл.-корр. РАН, д-р физ.-мат. наук
В.В. Зуев
Editorial Advisory Board
Chairman
Eugene A. Vaganov
Members:
Josef J. Gitelzon
Vasily F. Shabanov
Andrey G. Degermendzhy
Valery L. Mironov
Gennady L. Pashkov
Vladimir V. Shaidurov
Vladimir V. Zuev
Editorial Board:
CONTENTS / ÑÎÄÅÐÆÀÍÈÅ
Evgeniya E. Anisimova
j.l. Fofanov and V.A. Zhukovsky (on Peculiarities of Literary
Reflection of Pre-Symbolist Time)
– 748 –
Vladimir K. Vasilyev
On The Semantics of the œTurgenev’s GirlB Psychotype
– 757 –
Olga E. Gevel
Leo Tolstoy’s Fyodor Dolokhov: Between a Literary Image and
a True Fact
– 765 –
Vyacheslav N. Krylov
œWearinessB of Fiction (from the History of the Literocentrism
Crisis in the Russian Silver Age)
– 771 –
Editor-in-Chief
Mikhail I. Gladyshev
Alena O. Zadorina
The Mythologem of the North in the Early Works of L.M. Leonov
(on the Example of the Story œThe Death of EgorushkaB)
Founding Editor
Vladimir I. Kolmakov
– 778 –
Managing Editor
Olga F. Alexandrova
Executive Editor
for Humanities & Social Sciences
Natalia P. Koptseva
Vasilina À. Stepanova
The Poetics of the Interpretative Ecphrasis in Valentin Rasputin’s
Story œIzbaB
– 790 –
Компьютерная верстка Е.В. Гревцовой
Подписано в печать 28.05.2014 г. Формат 84x108/16. Усл. печ. л. 13,0.
Уч.-изд. л. 12,5. Бумага тип. Печать офсетная. Тираж 1000 экз. Заказ 1259.
Отпечатано в ПЦ БИК. 660041, Красноярск, пр. Свободный, 82а.
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Consulting Editors
for Humanities & Social Sciences:
David Anderson – Professor, The University
of Aberdeen, Scotland
Gershons Breslavs – International Institute
of Applied Psychology, Latvia
Milan Damohorsky – Professor, Charles
University in Prague
Hans-Georg Dederer – Professor, Passau
University, Germany
Sergey Devyatkin – Associate Professor,
Novgorod State University
Sergey Drobyshevsky – Professor, Siberian
Federal University
Oleg Gotlib – Associate Professor, Irkutsk
State Linguistic University
Tapdyg Kerimov – Professor, Ural Federal
University named after the first President
of Russia B.N. Yeltsin, Ekaterinburg
Boris Khasan – Professor, Siberian Federal
University
Galina Kopnina – Professor, Siberian
Federal University
Natalia Kovtoun – Professor, Siberian
Federal University
Alexander Kronik – Ph.D., LifeLook.Net,
LLC, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Liudmila Kulikova – Professor, Siberian
Federal University
Suneel Kumar – Assistant Professor,
Department of Strategic and Regional
Studies, University of Jammu
Liudmila Mayorova – Ph.D. Associate
Professor, Siberian Federal University
Pavel Mandryka – Associate Professor,
Siberian Federal University
Boris Markov – Professor, Saint-Petersburg
State University
Valentin Nemirovsky – Professor, Siberian
Federal University
Nicolay Pak – Professor, Krasnoyarsk State
Pedagogical University named after
V.P. Astafev
Nicolay
Parfentyev
–
Professor,
Corresponding Member of the Peter
the Great Academy of Sciences and
Arts, Honoured Scientist of the Russian
Federation, South Ural State University
Natalia Parfentyeva – Professor, Member of
the Composers of Russia, Corresponding
Member of the Peter the Great Academy
of Sciences and Arts, Honoured Arts
Worker of the Russian Federation,
South Ural State University
Nicolai Petro – Professor, Rhode Island
University, USA
Daniel Pivovarov – Professor, Ural Federal
University named after the first President
of Russia B.N. Yeltsin, Ekaterinburg
Evgeniya N. Rogova
Myths About the Death of Novel and the Absence of Integrality
in œThe NovelB by V. Sorokin
– 798 –
Tatyana À. Rytova
On the Problem of Determining œGenerationalB Theme in the
Novels of the 1990$2000-s
– 807 –
Yulia À. Govorukhina
Literocentrism of Modern Criticism
– 816 –
Natalia S. Tsvetova
Literature and Gloss: Substitution or Merging of Discourses?
– 824 –
Veronica A. Razumovskaya
œStrongB Texts of Russian Culture and Centers of Translation
Attraction
– 834 –
Irina G. Prudius
The Reception of Sophocles’ Creation in the Jean Anouilh’s
Dramaturgy
– 847 –
Natalia V. Kovtun
The Boundaries of Literariness: Image of the World as a Book in
the European Prose of the late 20th Century (through the example
of the novel by Christoph Ransmayr „The Last WorldB)
– 854 –
Alexei V. Nesteruk
The Universe as a Saturated Phenomenon: The Concept of
Creation of the World in View of Modern Cosmology and
Philosophy
– 865 –
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Igor Pyzhov – Associate Professor , Siberian
Federal University
Oyvind Ravna – Professor, University of
Tromso – The Arctic University of
Norway
Irina Rubert – Professor, Saint-Petersburg
State University of Economics
Andrey Smirnov – Corresponding Member,
Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute
of Philosophy RAS, Moscow
Olga Smolyaninova – Professor, Siberian
Federal University
Vladimir Suprun – Professor, Institute of
Philosophy and Law of SB RAS
Viktor Suslov – Corresponding Member
RAS, Institute of Economics and
Industrial Engineering of SB RAS
Roman Svetlov – Professor, Saint-Petersburg
State University
Elena Tareva – Professor, Moscow City
Pedagogical University
Kristine Uzule – Ph.D. Baltic International
Academy, Riga, Latvia
Eugeniya Zunder – Professor, Siberian
Federal University
Свидетельство о регистрации СМИ
ПИ № ФС77-28-723 от 29.06.2007 г.
Серия включена в «Перечень ведущих рецензируемых научных журналов и изданий, в которых должны
быть опубликованы основные научные результаты диссертации на
соискание ученой степени доктора и
кандидата наук» (редакция 2010 г.)
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 748-756
~~~
УДК 82-1
К.М. Fofanov and V.A. Zhukovsky
(on Peculiarities of Literary Reflection
of Pre-Symbolist Time)
Evgeniya E. Anisimova*
Siberian Federal University
79 Svobodny, Krasnoyarsk, 660041, Russia
Received 31.01.2014, received in revised form 20.02.2014, accepted 12.03.2014
The article traces Konstantin Fofanov’s perception of V.A. Zhukovsky’s poetical heritage. As it is
shown in the article, Fofanov’s understanding of “the first Russian romanticist’s” literary biography
contains genre, motif and life-creating aspects. Their analysis leads to the conclusion about a forging
influence of Zhukovsky’s artistic world on the lyrical system of Fofanov as a pre-symbolist. Fofanov’s
musings about Zhukovsky caused an occasion to express his understanding of the Russian literary
classics and to put a crucial question about the correlation between verse and prose as two different
types of the writer’s self-affirmation. Another set of motifs associated with Zhukovsky derives from
Fofanov’s visit to the ceremony of the opening of Zhukovsky’s monument in 1887. This fact was rethought by Fofanov in the perspective of a famous poetic theme – exegi monumentum. Finally the
“ballad fear”, introduced to Russian literature by Zhukovsky, acquires distinct social connotations
in Fofanov’s interpretation while the ballad genre starts functioning as a part of socially-oriented
literature.
Keywords: Zhukovsky, Fofanov, literary jubilee, canonization of the classics, biography, aesthetic
perception, motif, ballad.
The research is supported by the Russian Fund for the Humanities, grant № 14-14-24003.
Introduction
In his report “O prichinakh upadka i o novykh
techeniiakh sovremennoi russkoi literatury” (“On
reasons of decadence and new tendencies of modern
Russian literature”) (1892) D.S. Merezhkovsky
pointed out to a landmark nature of his time,
as if crowning a rich but, to his mind, close to
exhaustiveness historic-and-literary period: “No
historic epoch, no matter how fruitful it was, as well
as no nation can continuously produce geniuses”
(Merezhkovsky, 2007, 429). Focusing his attention
*
upon a typologically close situation in French
literature, the critic opposed naturalistic writers to
writers-ideologists. According to Merezhkovsky,
the role of the latter was not so much in creating
masterpieces as in a feasible approach of art to the
aesthetics of artistic idealism (Govorukhina, 2012,
163-164).
Theoretical prerequisites
In Russian literature of the end of the 80-s –
the beginning of the 90-s of the XIX century
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: eva1393@mail.ru
# 748 #
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Evgeniya E. Anisimova. К.М. Fofanov and V.A. Zhukovsky…
there appeared a new generation of poets, not top
ones yet, but paving the way to the top ones to
appear. This period was similar to the situation
of the 1790-1810-s. “Combination of ‘already not’
and ‘not yet’” was the main peculiar feature of the
epoch (Lotman, 1971, 6). The period between the
years of 1887 and 1895 witnessed some decisive
events. These were S.Ia. Nadson’s death, on the
one hand, and the advent of modernists’ first
editions, on the other hand. P.P. Pertsov called
this period a “Fofanov’s” one (Pertsov, 2002) and
so it was called after. It was at that time when
a new round of romanticism was spinning up.
With reference to K.M. Fofanov it was termed
“neo-romanticism”, or “naïve romanticism”.
The fact of Fofanov being a central poet of that
transition epoch was particularly mentioned in
Merezhkovsky’s aesthetic manifesto, and namely
in the part about modern literary generation.
their
historic-and-functional
Regarding
perspective, such transition periods in culture
became “the time of soul-searching” (Lotman,
2007, 8) when the “reflexivity” of literature grew
and the search for both predecessors and lines of
further development intensified. Thus, it is natural
that there was a special place for V.A. Zhukovsky,
a father of Russian romanticism, in the creative
consciousness of Fofanov, a “neo-romanticist”.
Unpublished rough copies of Fofanov’s
article “Zhukovsky and Gogol” and the poet’s
diary notes, as well as pieces of fiction bearing
the evidence of Zhukovsky have become the
material for this article. A comprehensive
analysis of Fofanov’s texts has enabled us to
single out a set of Zhukovsky-oriented topics and
motifs and understand what “shifts” actualize
new meanings in them. Among key directions
in Fofanov’s perception of Zhukovsky’s creative
work there have been distinguished the “poetry –
prose” antithesis, the topic of monument, and
complication with social motifs of “ballad
fear”.
“Poetry” and “prose”
in Fofanov’s understanding
The “poetry – prose” opposition has
become meaning- and structure-forming for
those Fofanov’s text, which are regarded as key
“Zhukovskian” ones. They are “Poeziia – Bog”
(“Poetry is God”) poem and “Zhukovsky and
Gogol” unpublished article. The article was
planned and roughly written for Zhukovsky’s
and Gogol’s jubilees in 1902. This year united the
names of two Russian classics through the date
of their death and provoked the authors of jubilee
works to bring their biographies and creative
work in correlation one way or another. Fofanov
also started his article with this correlation.
Recollections about Zhukovsky and Gogol were
the grounds for Fofanov not only to express his
thoughts about Russian classical tradition but
also to raise a key question about the correlation
between the poetic and the prose. He premised a
critical review of these persons, celebrating their
jubilee, with a quatrain, “finishing” a famous
line of Zhukovsky’s “Kamoens” (“Camöes”) –
“Poetry is God in holy dreams”. A possible
reconstruction of the “epigraph” is the following
one: “Poetry is God in holy dreams. / While prose
is also God, prostrated in the *dust, / Embraced
with thorns, offended by *contempt / And dying
with a silent blessing” (Russian State Archive of
Literature and Art. Stock 525. Inventory number
1. Document number 407. P. 1.).
This unpublished poem distinctly (like
in a drop of water) reflects the message of the
article about Zhukovsky, a poet, and Gogol,
a prose writer. In Fofanov’s interpretation the
meaning of the “poetry – prose” dichotomy was
not as much in presence/absence of a rhythmic
organization of the artistic speech as in rather
broad, mythologizing interpretation of “prose”
and “poetry” as two opposite life styles and,
consequently, two different types of an artist’s
self-affirmation with respect to it. Thus, Fofanov
# 749 #
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Evgeniya E. Anisimova. К.М. Fofanov and V.A. Zhukovsky…
made an aesthetic antithesis a key component of
a poet’s self-affirmation in the epoch of “rough
positivism”, approaching a set of problems to be
solved by the next generation of poets.
In the perspective of stylistics an attempt
to “finish” Zhukovsky’s works seems even more
characteristic to Fofanov, especially if his passion
for poetic comparisons is taken into account.
According to S.V. Sapozhkov, “comparison in
Fofanov’s artistic world is not only an ontological
category, but also an epistemological one; it
is both an object and an instrument of poetic
knowledge of the world” (Sapozhkov, 2001). As for
Zhukovsky, he found an appropriate comparison
to define the gist of poetry. As for Fofanov, he
took on the task to similarly define prose, at
the same time clarifying interdependence and
difference between these concepts as well as
literary traditions backing them.
A line from “Camöes”, engraved on
Zhukovsky’s monument in Aleksandrovsky
sad (Aleksandrovsky garden), was a subject of
Fofanov’s reflection even before this engraving.
The poet was present at the opening of Kreitan’s
monument to Zhukovsky on the 4th of June, 1887
and made a note about it in his diary the same
day (Russian State Archive of Literature and
Art. Stock 525. Inventory number 1. Document
number 8. P. 128 (reverse)-129.). Later the poet’s
recollections about the opening of this monument –
the first one in the bust alley in Aleksandrovsky
sad – repeatedly echoed in his creative work,
having gained a paradigmatic character. Besides,
Fofanov’s visit to the unveiling of the monument is
around the beginning of his poetic activity: it was
the year of 1887 when his first collected poems
“Stikhotvoreniya” (“Poems”) were published.
Later a famous lyrical topic of a “monument not
build with hands” was assigned with features of
this ceremonial event (Fofanov, 2010).
Fofanov defined his poem “Poetry is God”
“an abridged line of “Camöes”. If the paraphrase
in the title was taken out of it, the line “Poetry is
God in holy dreams of Earth” is repeated word for
word seven times in the poem and is polemically
overwritten by the poet once. Moreover, the image
of Zhukovsky’s bust with the inscription on the
pedestal (“And, bowing his head as if afraid of
distance, / A minstrel of “Svetlana” is here. Stop,
listen! / You see the letters on a grey pedestal: /
“Poetry is God in holy dreams of Earth” (Fofanov,
2010, 328)) appear in the text. Thus, the second
motif-thematic section, genetically tracing back
to Zhukovsky and clearly apparent in Fofanov’s
texts, is connected with the variations on the
topic of a monument to a poet and comprises a set
of clichés of “exegi monumentum” poetic topic.
It should be also noted that the work at “Poetry
is God” was carried out during the period of
a “jubilee-mania” that began in Russia after
Pushkin’s holiday in 1880 and was the evidence
of understanding of “ideological potential” of
such official events (Vdovin, 2010) with opening
a poet’s monument as their apogee. In this regard
Fofanov gives a double interpretation of the
“monument not build with hands” topic. It is close
to Derzhavin’s one. Thus, it implies the meaning
of an “eternal monument” as a piece of creative
work and that of a “copper monument” included in
the official state pantheon of the classics. Another
Fofanov’s “eternal” topic is involving poetry in
commercial relations and professionalism of the
poet himself. It is embodied on both levels of the
poem: semantic and stylistic ones. The dialogue
between a hero and a publisher represents the
intrusion of prosaic style into poetic speech. Thus,
aesthetic and ideological opposition of prose and
poetry is also supported stylistically.
Incorporation of the line from “Camöes”
into the poem led to their metric and rhythmic
closeness. By doing so Fofanov resorted to
“semantization of the plane of expression in a
poem” (Levin, 2000, 291) and provoked a reader
to search for the analogy with Zhukovsky’s
# 750 #
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Evgeniya E. Anisimova. К.М. Fofanov and V.A. Zhukovsky…
poem. Both poems (Zhukovsky’s and Fofanov’s
ones) were autobiographical. O.B. Lebedev
mentiones: “The beginning of drama is mostly
direct translation from German; but towards the
end Zhukovsky added so much of his own to the
original and, thus, gave a clear hint on himself.
In Camöes’s stories he omitted the circumstances
that didn’t correspond to the events in his own life”
(Lebedeva, 2011, 650). Zhukovsky’s “Camöes”
underwent such impressive changes that the poet
himself didn’t call the poem a translation, but
characterized it as an “imitation of Halm”. Owing
to these circumstances Camöes’s speculations
about a poet’s mission and his place in society were
understood not as much as this Portuguese poet
of the XVI century’s words but as Zhukovsky’s
thoughts. Thus, it’s not accidentally that it was a
final line from “Camöes”, one of two of his poetic
“auto-characteristics” (along with the part from
“Undine”), that was engraved on the pedestal of
the poet’s monument in Aleksandrovsky sad.
In spite of the fact that “Poetry is God”
poem was devoted to A.S. Slutsky, Fofanov’s
acquaintance, it covered not only the poet’s life
circumstances, but also contained his universal
speculations about the role of a poet and poetry in
society. Moreover, the text was autobiographical
and even prophetical for Fofanov himself as
it touched upon his personality’s “dark’ and
“bright” sides. Thus, the “poetry is god” idiom
was close to the poet’s attitude to literary work.
Ilya Repin, the painter of Fofanov’s famous
portrait, wrote about the poet: “The feature of
almost a religious cult of serving the poetry was
the brightest in him. <…> I was always pleasantly
thrilled by the tone of his conventional majesty
when he crossed the threshold of his place of
worship… Transfiguration took place. The
times of Zhukovsky, prince Odoyevsky, Ogarev,
Herzen, and others from the glorious constellation
of the Decembrists came back” (Sapozhkov,
2002, 147-148). At the same time the “Poetry is
an animal frightening people!” paraphrase “was
implemented in the fate of the poetic leader of
Repin’s circle of writers with literal accuracy”
long before the publication of Fofanov’s poem
(Sapozhkov, 2002, 145).
Fofanov was attracted by “Zhukovsky’s
special attention to a poet’s social status” in
“Camöes”, and it was the dialogue with the
Russian romanticist per se that formed a dramatic
layer of “Poetry is God” poem. A final line from
“Camöes” is repeatedly “verified” in Fofanov’s
poem and sounds in the descriptions of various
life circumstances of its hero. Two out of eight
citations of Zhukovsky’s poem are given “prereflexively” (childhood and days of the first fame).
The next four citations are presented ironically
and built in the narration about numerous burdens
of the poet’s life, such as poverty and parting with
the beloved, cold and hunger, editors’ refusals
and getting into the “police house”. At that the
uniqueness of a hero’s position is eliminated
by the poet’s visits to several of his colleagues,
whose very poor conditions stroke him. It is
significant that Nekrasov’s social note, sounding
in Fofanov’s poem, isn’t focused traditionally to
the public. It is focused to the poet himself.
The ironic citation is followed with the
polemic reinterpretation of “Camöes”: “And
weakly shaking hand in rage / He throws
notebooks of previous years in fire. / And
laughing, says: “Well, Muse, the dear, – / The
poetry is an animal frightening people!..”
(Fofanov, 2010, 329). It is indicative that in his
rough copies to “Zhukovsky and Gogol” article
Fofanov resorts to similar strategies of description
of the poetic and the prose. He starts his article,
citing Zhukovsky on the heart of poetry which
was never clarified later as for Fofanov it was
a peculiar ideal formula of poetry. The article
further dwells upon the poet’s speculations about
the prose – first in verse, then in the form of a
critical review. From all Zhukovsky’s texts the
# 751 #
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Evgeniya E. Anisimova. К.М. Fofanov and V.A. Zhukovsky…
critic cited the line “Poetry is God in holy dreams
of Earth”. As for Gogol’s text, he cited “It is a
depressing world, gentlemen!” which is a final
line form the story of two gentlemen landowners
“The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with
Ivan Nikiforovich” (Russian State Archive of
Literature and Art. Stock 525. Inventory number
1. Document number 407. P. 2-2 (reverse)).
In the final octave of “Poetry is God” poem
the autobiographical hero overcomes his despair.
He clearly sees real spheres of poetry, which are
far from the vale of life, and returns to the initial
meaning of Zhukovsky’s phrase but on a new level
of its interpretation. It is significant that all the
events in Fofanov’s poem are timed to Christmas,
when, according to the legend, the contact with
the other world (that of the evil spirit, according
to folklore ideas; and that of the transcendent,
according to romantic and modernist versions of
the double world) is significantly eased. Together
with the first stars the poet is as if born again: “And
there, in the skies, in the constellation of the Bear,
/ In radiant beads, in sparkling dust / Of silver
worlds the psalmist heard: “Poetry is God in holy
dreams of Earth!” (Fofanov, 2010, 329). The final
lines of the poem actualize a martyred, sacrificial
meaning of Camöes’s words. It intersects with
Merezhkovsky’s aphoristic statement about a
poet’s fate in Russia (Vasil’ev, 2009, 116-117)
and about Fofanov, in particular: “A writer in
Russia is a Russian martyr! <…> Fofanov, like
Garshin, fell in martyred love with beauty and
poetry. It was a matter of death and life for him”
(Merezhkovsky, 2007, 485, 491).
Zhukovsky’s image
as a crown prince’s tutor
in Fofanov’s poetry
In “Ocharovannyi prints” (“The Enchanted
Prince”) (1897), a work of literature published
with the subtitle “ballad”, Zhukovsky becomes
one of the “characters” of this Fofanov’s text.
The story of the text creation is clearly preserved
in the rough copies of “The Enchanted Prince”
ballad we can witness now. The dialogue between
a crown prince and a tutor, biographically close
to Zhukovsky, appears one of the first in them
and is the only episode finally written right
away: “With the stare of a kid, with the soul of
a poet, / A humble tutor told him, / That there,
behind the wall, / A crowd of radiant, mysterious
forces is hidden from the light” (Fofanov, 2010,
284). A crown prince’s journey in his country
is a central event in the ballad. Fofanov brings
it together with both the social plot of the
“inspection” of the province and historically real
journeys of Alexander Nikolaevich and Nikolai
Alexandrovich, the crown princes, who travelled
far inland (Uortman, 2002; Anisimov, 2002). The
crown prince’s tutor is associated with Zhukovsky
due to several circumstances. The first one is
a genre marking of the text. It was Zhukovsky
who formed a ballad canon in Russian culture
(Katz, 1976, 37-138). That’s why Fofanov’s genre
mark inevitably provoked the readers to search
for similar parallels. The plot of “The Enchanted
Prince” is directed towards the modification of
a ballad scheme of a “terrible journey” with the
effect of a ballad fear, which is the most important
in Zhukovsky’s programme works (Ryan, 1992,
647-669).
The second one is Fofanov’s description
of the prince’s tutor. The image of a “humble”
prince “with the soul of a poet”, “with the stare
of a kid” accurately coincides with Zhukovsky’s
stereotype image created by his contemporaries
and doesn’t associate with G.G. Danilovich,
a tutor of Nicholas II. In 1880-s, the period of
celebration of the first centenary of Zhukovsky’s
birth and understanding the reign of Alexander
II’s who died in 1881, the question of a beneficial
nature of the tsar’s tutelage by the poet, which
was unprecedented in Russia, was often put. The
memoirs of those who belonged to Zhukovsky’s
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nearest circle contained numerous comparisons of
the poet with a child. Thus, F.F. Vigel wrote: “He
embodies the mixture of a child with an angel; and
his life seems to be a long-lasting transformation
from the first state directly to the last one” (Vigel,
1999, 164). This image of Zhukovsky can be
compared his image in A.O. Smirnova-Rosset’s
recollections: “Zhukovsky is often taken in; he
is as naïve as a child” (Smirnova-Rosset, 1989,
24). The epithet “humble” with regard to the poet
is well-known thanks to A. Turgenev’s poem,
devoted to him, that starts with the line “Covering
a humble way of life with flowers…” (Turgenev,
1971). Resignation becomes the main feature in
Zhukovsky’s words addressed to the heir in his
famous message “To Grand Duchess, princess
Alexandra Feodorovna, on birth of Grand Duke
Alexander Nikolaevich” (Zhukovsky, 2000, 197198).
“The Enchanted Prince” is attracted to the
plot schemes, widespread in folklore and literary
tradition. The schemes include the motif of an
unrecognized emperor. By the XIX century the
plot scheme of a royal person’s “meeting with
people” was strongly modified; and in comparison
with the first stories about Ivan the Terrible and
Peter the Great new historic anecdotes often
represented the deeds of those in power as their
“rhetorical gestures” (Nikanorova, 2009, 41).
Fofanov includes two journeys in the ballad. The
first one is the heir’s official voyage around the
country for which citizens thoroughly prepared
and, thus, met the prince triumphantly. This
journey finishes with the hero’s “political fiasco”.
Contrary to the readers’ expectations injustice is
not eliminated, and rendering of mercy is limited
to the “velure handed out”. The second journey
is implicitly introduced to the final part and is
based on the motif of an unrecognized crown
prince: the crown prince remains unrecognized
not only by the people, but also by the court and
family members (Kovtun, 2005). This brings
the ballad and the plot scheme of “the savior in
hiding” together. But for all that an optimistic
variant of reading the final part is complicated by
the following: Fofanov’s ballad portrays both the
source of injustice (traditionally a venal official,
a cruel general, a greedy police officer, etc.) and
the people as non-personalized; and as a result
the plot gets the meaning of historical regularity
which can’t be bridged over by the effort of one
person only, even if he is a heir to the throne (The
fate of the reform, 2013). In further reference
to Zhukovsky’s ballad works Fofanov sticks
to the analogous strategy, attaching realistic
(physiological and social) justifications to the
events.
Conclusion
The
phenomenon,
called
“tessera”
(rethinking and “finishing” of a topical poetforerunner) by Harold Bloom (Bloom, 1998, 18),
became Fofanov’s main strategy in respect of
Zhukovsky’s works. Fofanov was attracted to the
understanding of poetry and the poetic in general
as nearly religious, mystical and often martyred
service, that he noticed in creative heritage of
the author of “Camöes”. Fofanov enriched it
with his understanding of the prose, contrary
but at the same time inevitable side of life. To
describe it Fofanov resorted to the techniques
of poetics of Zhukovsky’s ballads, adding acute
social meanings to this genre form. In Fofanov’s
perception, the nature of Zhukovsky chrystallized
into a psychologically close image of the poet
“with the stare of a kid”, on the one hand, and into
a figure of an unquestionable and “cast in copper”
classic, on the other hand.
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in Russian culture). Tomsk, Sibirika, 2002, pp. 20-30.
2. Bloom, H. The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. New York, Oxford University
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pamiati (Meter and meaning. On a mechanism of cultural memory). Moscow, Russian University for
the Humanities, 2000, 291-293.
10. Lotman, Iu.M. Poeziia 1790-1810-kh godov [Poetry of 1790-1810-s]. Poety 1790-1810-kh godov.
Vstupitel’naia stat’ia (Poets of 1790-1810-s. Introduction). Leningrad, Sovetskii pisatel’, 1971, 5-62.
11. Merezhkovsky, D.S. O prichinakh upadka i o novykh techeniiakh sovremennoi russkoi
literatury [On the reasons of decadence and new tendencies of modern Russian literature]. Merezhkovsky
D.S. Vechnye sputnik. Portrety iz vsemirnoi literatury (Eternal satellites. Portraits from Russian
literature). St.-Petersburg, Nauka, 2007, 428-502.
12. Nikanorova, Е.К. (2009). Motiv neuznannogo imperatora v ego siuzhetnykh i tekstovykh
modifikatsiiakh (na materiale istoricheskikh anekdotov XVIII – pervoi poloviny XIX vekov [Motif
of an unrecognized emperor in his plot and textual modifications (based on historical anecdotes of
XVIII – the first half of the XIX centuries]. Sibirskii filologicheskii zhurnal, 1, 36-46.
13. Pertsov, P.P. Literaturnye vospominaniia. 1890-1902 gg. [Literary memoirs. The years of
1890-1902]. Moscow, Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2002. 489 p.
14. Pribic, R. (1986). The Translator and Adaptor of German Literature: Vasilij Andreevic
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15. Russian State Archive of Literature and Art. Stock 525. Inventory number 1. Document
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17. Sapozhkov, S.V. (2001). К.М. Fofanov i repinskii kruzhok pisatelei. Stat’ia vtoraia [К.М.
Fofanov and Repin’s circle of writers. The second article]. Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 52, available
at: http://magazines.russ.ru/nlo/2001/52/sap.html
18. Sapozhkov, S.V. (2002). К.М. Fofanov i repinskii kruzhok pisatelei. Stat’ia tret’ia. Literaturnyi
portret poeta v inter’ere [К.М. Fofanov and Repin’s circle of writers. The third article. The poet’s
literary portrait in the iterior]. Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 4 (56), 135-148.
19. Smirnova-Rosset, А.О. Dnevnik. Vospominaniia [Diary. Memoirs]. Мoscow, 1989. 792 p.
20. Turgenev, А.I. <V.A. Zhukovskomu> (“Smirennyi zhizni put’”) [<To V.A. Zhukovsky>
(“A humble way of life…”). Poety 1790-1810-kh godov. Vstupitel’naia stat’ia (Poets of 1790-1810-s.
Introduction). Leningrad, Sovetskii pisatel’, 1971, 244.
21. Uortman, R.S. Stsenarii vlasti. Mify i tseremonii russkoi monarkhii [Scenarios of power.
Myths and ceremonies of Russian monarchy]. Мoscow, OGI, 2002. 608 p.
22. Vasil’ev, V.К. Siuzhetnaia tipologiia russkoi literatury XI-XX vekov. Arkhetipy russkoi
kul’tury. Ot Srednevekov’ia k Novomu vremeni [Plot typology of the Russian literature of the XI-XX
centuries. Archetypes of Russian culture. From the Middle Ages to the Modern Age]. Krasnoyarsk,
IPK SFU, 2009. 260 p.
23. Vdovin, А.V. (2010). Der Todestag des Literaten als Fiertag: Die Entstehung einer Tradition
in Russland (1950-er – 1900-er Jahre). Festkultur in der russischen Literatur (18. bis 21. Jahrhundert).
München, UTZ Verlag, 81-93.
24. Vigel, F.F. Iz “Zapisok” [From the “Notes”]. V.A. Zhukovsky v vospominaniiakh sovremennikov
(V.A. Zhukovsky in the contemporaries’ recollections). Moscow, Nauka, Shkola “Iazyki slavianskoi
kul’tury”, 1999, 162-171.
25. Zhukovsky, V.А. Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem: v 20 t. T. 2. Stikhotvoreniia 1815-1852
gg. [Complete works: in 20 volumes. Vol. 2. Poems of 1815-1852]. Moscow, Iazyki russkoi kul’tury,
2000. 840 p.
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К.М. Фофанов и В.А. Жуковский
(об особенностях литературной рефлексии
предсимволистского времени)
Е.Е. Анисимова
Сибирский федеральный университет
Россия, 660041, Красноярск, пр. Свободный, 79
В статье исследуются закономерности рецепции К.М. Фофановым поэтического наследия
В.А. Жуковского. Осмысление Фофановым творческого пути “первого русского романтика”
включает в себя, как показано в статье, жанрообразовательный, мотивологический и
культурно-биографический аспекты, анализ которых позволяет сделать вывод о моделирующем
характере воздействия художественного мира Жуковского на лирическую систему поэтапредсимволиста. Для Фофанова размышления о Жуковском стали поводом высказаться о
русской классической традиции, а также поставить ключевой для него вопрос о соотношении
поэтического и прозаического как двух разных типов самоутверждения художника. Другой
рецептивный блок связан с посещением Фофановым торжественного открытия памятника
Жуковскому в 1887 г., творчески воспринятого им в русле поэтической темы exegi monumentum.
Наконец, балладный страх, введенный в русскую культуру Жуковским, приобретает у Фофанова
четко выраженный социальный характер, а балладная форма начинает выполнять функцию
прикрепления к литературе остросоциальных тем.
Ключевые слова: Жуковский, Фофанов, литературный юбилей, канонизация классики,
биография, рецепция, мотив, баллада.
Исследование выполнено при поддержке Российского фонда развития гуманитарных наук,
грант № 14-14-24003.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 757-764
~~~
УДК 82
On The Semantics
of the “Turgenev’s Girl” Psychotype
Vladimir K. Vasilyev*
Siberian Federal University
79 Svobodny, Krasnoyarsk, 660041, Russia
Received 18.01.2014, received in revised form 30.01.2014, accepted 22.04.2014
In the first half of the 19th century, in the context of crisis of Christian beliefs an intensive formation
of revolutionary intelligentsia began in Russia. Ivan Turgenev, one of the most penetrating writerspsychoanalysts, was the first who showed the nature of “new people” and predicted their historical
mission of a revolutionary rebuilding of the country. The writer portrayed them in types of “Turgenev’s
girl” and “Turgenev’s character”. In the strict sense of the term, “Turgenev’s girl” is a flapper, who
rejects a traditional idea about the role of a woman in society. (The beginning of this understanding
was shown in the story “Conversation” (1844-1854)). She is looking for a hero, a man who will show
her the highest truth of existence and she is ready to sacrifice her life. She considers the ideas of social
revolution to be this kind of the highest truth. In his works of fiction (“Rudin” (1855) and “Virgin
Soil” (1876)) Turgenev showed that the way which characters choose will lead them and Russia to
a “sophisticated suicide”. The character types, which were discovered by Turgenev, were analyzed
as evocation of abnormal psychology. The classic couple of characters, which were anticipated by
Turgenev, are Nadezhda Krupskaya and Ulyanov-Lenin. Meanwhile both in school curricula and
in Russian literary studies the type of “Turgenev’s girl” is very vague, not clearly defined and still
presented as romantic.
The aim of this article is to show the “Turgenev’s girl” type out of this kind of mythology. The results
of it – the scientific description of the above mentioned psychological types – can be used in teaching
the history of Russian and world literature, psychoanalysis, philosophy and cultural studies.
Keywords: Turgenev, “Turgenev’s girl”, typology of literary characters, history of Russian literature,
women’s emancipation, abnormal psychology.
The research is carried out within the frame of “Literature and history: spheres of interaction and
types of narration” integration project of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science.
Introduction
There can be hardly found such a vague
term as “Turgenev’s girl” both in the typology
of Turgenev’s characters and, probably, in the
typology of the characters of Russian literature
as a whole. School and university textbooks,
articles and monographs (!), but mainly lesson
*
plans, students’ best compositions, works of
fiction and numerous Internet sites provide the
readers with vast material portraying the image
of “Turgenev’s girl” as a “high”, “poetic”, “pure”,
“chaste”, “moral”, “spiritual”, “romantic”,
“in love”, “ardent”, “passionate”, “strong”,
“progressive”, “proud”, “ambitious”, “dreamy”,
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: v-v-kir@yandex.ru
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“searching”, “zealous”, “aspiring” nature… The
words “truth”, “verity”, “feat”, “sacrifice” pair
with these attributes. A girl is usually portrayed
in pink, white or blue, and close to nature. Her
figure serves the illustration to the topic of “the
first love”.
At the same time the readers face a great
number of quite different characteristics. As a
result, they have almost no chances to get out of
mess of mythological ideas of “Turgenev’s girl”.
Theoretical prerequisites
Contextual-and-comparative
analysis
(Vasilyev, 2011) and following the structural
meanings (Olshansky, 2008) of the analyzed
Turgenev’s text enable to get free from the
mythology, tagged to this type by the Marxist
literary criticism.
On the semantics
of the “Turgenev’s girl” image
Acquaintance with a real image-variant
inevitably turns out to be too unexpected for an
unsophisticated reader. Who will be enchanted
with a thirty-year-old girl with a harsh voice,
“large red hands” (Turgenev, 1982, 135), who
smokes pajitos and is secretly and meekly in love
with a hero-self-murderer? The writer describes
it the following way: “A nihilist pur sang. Heavy
and ugly <…> but virgin in 30. <…> Never wears
gloves. <…> Capable of every dedication. Eats
only bread, pounds of bread. Nechaev makes an
agent out of her” (Turgenev, 1982, 408). What
is considered to be a final image of “Turgenev’s
girl” is the image of Fekla Mashurina from
“Virgin Soil” novel. L.V. Uspensky comments
on the name of Tekla: “The Russian form of this
name was regarded folksy and rough in prerevolutionary Russia” (Uspenskii, 2008, 360).
As for the connection with S.G. Nechaev, an
ominous historic figure, it means that a heroinerevolutionist is capable of murder for ideological
reasons. When the case in point is that “one
man has turned out unreliable and must got rid
of”, Mashurina remarks: “If the thing is settled,
then there is nothing more to be said!” (Turgenev,
1982, 136). F.M. Dostoevsky described the spirit
of Nechaev (nechaevshchina) as an “evil” one,
the deepest pathology of national spirit (Kovtun,
2011, 1045-1057). Turgenev conveyed similar
meanings in the novel he planned to be a novel
summing up the researches of such character
types as “Turgenev’s girl” and “Turgenev’s boy”.
The space of “Virgin Soil” is formed around the
archetype plot about the Antichrist as the space
of anti-world (this problem is discussed in my
previous articles).
“Virgin Soil” novel is written in
1876. However, the subject of his research
was clearly defi ned by Turgenev in
“Perepiska”
(“Correspondence”)
story
(1844-1854): “But we are psychologists.
Oh yes, we are great psychologists! But
our psychology is akin to pathology;
our psychology is that subtle study of the laws
of morbid condition and morbid development,
with which healthy people have nothing to do…”
(Turgenev, 1980а, 27). With the words of a hero
from “Correspondence” the writer positions
himself as a psychoanalyst. In 1879, at the dawn
of his career, Turgenev confi rmed “excessive
constancy”, “straightforwardness of direction”
and “uniformity of aspirations” in observation
of the “troubled, psychologically complex, even
morbid” which was not a “particular fact” but
was “brought forward from the interior by the
same people’s, social life”. “During all this time
I endeavored <…> faithfully and impartially
to portray and embody in fitting types what
Shakespeare calls “the body and pressure of
time” and that quickly changing physiognomy
of Russian people of the cultural layer which
predominantly served the object of my
observations” (Turgenev, 1982, 390, 396). Thus,
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the writer’s primary object of interest is “quickly
changing” (and historical in this respect), deep,
social psychopathology.
The process of analytical reading
presupposes the presence of technologies, which
adequately correlate with the writer’s artistic
method, statement of one or another task,
strict adherence to the text meanings, etc. (See
(Govorukhina, 2012) about the structure of a
reader’s activity, conditions and aims of meaning
production). Ordinary reader is far from all this.
The meanings he / she can extract from a fiction
text are seen from the image of “Turgenev’s girl”
created by him.
The problem, however, is not only in this.
The material serves the evidence that the image
exists in two dimensions. 1) “Turgenev’s girl”
is any heroine, portrayed by Ivan Sergeevich.
The writer’s unusual poetic gift, his ability to
aestheticize, fill with numerous allusions, and
portray good and bad characters as obscure,
mysterious (the principle of “secret psychology”!)
and many-dimensional ones produce a charming
and hypnotic effect. A reader is destined to
imagine the aesthetic as the ideal. Meanwhile,
Turgenev’s poetics totally resists simplified
interpretations. In this regard we can mention
broad, vague (from a scientific point of view,
not in its direct meaning) understanding of this
cultorological term. 2) “Turgenev’s girl” in its
narrow meaning is a new Russian socio-psychotype, discovered by Turgenev first. The fact of
discovery is fixed by L.N. Tolstoy, in particular:
“Perhaps, those whom he depicted never existed,
but they came to existence after he had depicted
them” (M. Gorky and A.P. Chekhov, 1951, 161).
We argue that the main traits of the type are the
motifs of emancipation, search for truth, finally
leading to the idea of a revolutionary terror.
These criteria make it impossible to refer Liza
Ozhogina, Liza Kalitina, Anna Odintsova as
well as many other characters to the “Turgenev’s
girl” type. In a historical perspective the classical
“Turgenev’s girl” is Nadezhda Krupskaya, who
devoted her life to the ideals of Ulyanov-Lenin,
her husband and revolutionary leader. In the XX
century both psycho-types become dominants of
Russian life.
Ordinary reader has the right to express his
subjective ideas of the “Turgenev’s girl” image
(Bleich, 1978, 264). As it has been mentioned
above, a significant problem is seen in the fact that
the same understanding is presented in school
textbooks and often in the latest researches…
The authors are evidently not confused by the
fact that “Turgenev’s girl” can appear before
the readers as “pure”, “moral”, “spiritual”,
“advanced” murderer or as a “progressive”
heroine, following her darling to suicide, death
(Anisimov, 2011, 351) (it’s the problematics of
“Rudin”, “On the Eve”, “Virgin Soil” novels).
According to Dostoevsky’s description,
Evdoksiya Kukshina is a “progressive louse
which Turgenev combed out of Russian reality”
(Dostoevsky, 1989, 404). Kukshina is a classical
variant of “Turgenev’s girl”. Metaphoricalness
of Dostoevsky’s description seems to be
more adequate than the fi xed mythopoetics
of the image. Thus, if we notice that modern
interpretations of classical texts do not differ
much from recent Marxist ones the situation
is in urgent need of correction. Unfortunately,
the scope of this article can’t embrace a deeper
insight into this problematics.
The most stable variants of Turgenev’s plot
presuppose the presence of “Turgenev’s girl”
and “Turgenev’s hero”. She is on the threshold
of life, facing the choice (Anisimova, 2011, 82).
It implies the choice between several candidates
for her hand and will determine her future. She
makes her choice in favour of a “progressive”
hero, tries to recognize a leader in him. It is
he who will reveal the truth, lead her and fill
her life a higher sense. This variant of such a
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story line was fi rst developed in details in
“Correspondence” story. (And later in the novels
mentioned.)
The essential universal of life-practice
is catering for images. Literary creative work
also implies this or that degree of reflexion,
regarding a “prototype”, which is peculiar to
both the author and a hero. Turgenev focuses
his plots on a binary system of motifs, assigned
to opposite images of Don Quixote and Hamlet.
“All people seemed to belong to one of these two
types more or less; all of us tend to be closer
either to Don Quixote or Hamlet” (Turgenev,
1980а, 331). Marya Aleksandrovna, a heroine
of “Correspondence” story, is oriented to the
western culture, its Franco-Germanic models,
and primarily George Sand’s novels. She writes
to her correspondent: “In the fi rst place, then, let
me tell you that all over the country-side I am
never called anything but the female philosopher
<…>. Some assert that I sleep with a Latin book
in my hand, and in spectacles; others declare that
I know how to extract cube roots, whatever they
may be. Not a single one of them doubts that I
wear manly apparel on the sly, and instead of
‘good-morning’, address people spasmodically
with ‘George Sand!’ – and indignation grows
apace against the female philosopher. We have
a neighbour, a man of five-and-forty, a great
wit <…>. For him my poor personality is an
inexhaustible subject of jokes. <…> He swears
that I use phrases of this kind – “It is easy
because it is difficult, though on the other hand
it is difficult because it is easy...” He asserts that
I am always looking for a word, always striving
‘thither’, and with comic rage inquires: “Whitherthither? whither?” He has also circulated a
story about me that I ride at night up and down
by the river, singing Schubert’s Serenade, or
simply moaning, “Beethoven, Beethoven!” She
is, he will say, such an impassioned old person”
(Turgenev, 1980а, 34).
The heroine calls herself an old person
because she is 26 and afraid to remain a spinster.
At that Marya Aleksandrovna actually chooses
between three candidates: an old one (a 45
year-old witty person), a young one and Alexey
Petrovich, an acquaintance by correspondence.
Her sister’s example (and namely her family life)
is right in front of her eyes. Her husband is “a
simple and rather comic person; <…>. But she’s
happy, after all; she’s the mother of a family, she’s
fond of her husband, her husband adores her... “I
am like everyone else,” she says to me sometimes,
“but you!” A heroine-flapper envies her sister’s
happiness, hesitates between recognition and
denial of a “common groove”, traditional
ideal which is also suggested by her uncle in
particular: “husband, children, a pot of soup; to
look after the husband and children and keep an
eye on the pot” (Turgenev, 1980а, 35). Marya
Aleksandrovna could marry a young candidate,
“if she liked”. “He is <…> well-educated, and
has property. There are no difficulties on the
part of my parents; on the contrary, they desire
this marriage. He is a good man, and I think he
loves me... but he is so spiritless and narrow, his
aspirations are so limited, that I cannot but be
conscious of my superiority to him. He is aware
of this, and as it were rejoices in it, and that is
just what sets me against him. I cannot respect
him, though he has an excellent heart” (Turgenev,
1980а, 38). With her pride (which is one of her
pathological features) “Turgenev’s girl” judges
and rejects an ordinary man. She needs a hero.
“If he were a hero, he would fire her, would teach
her to sacrifice herself, and all sacrifices would
be easy to her! But there are no heroes in our
times...” (Turgenev, 1980а, 30).
The heroine lives in the world of illusions.
Subjective “I” is a criterion of her attitude to the
world. “To seem” is a key word, determining her
ideals. “Let them call me a female philosopher,
a queer fish, or what they choose – I will remain
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true to the end... to what? to an ideal, or what?
Yes, to my ideal. Yes, I will be faithful to the
end to what first set my heart throbbing, to what
I have recognized, and recognize still, as truth,
and good... If only my strength does not fail
me, if only my divinity does not turn out to be a
dumb and soulless idol...” (Turgenev, 1980а, 35).
(Rodion Raskolnikov, a character of Dostoevsky’s
novel “Prestuplenie i nakazanie” (“Crime and
punishment”), develops his theory on the same
basis.) Compare it with an opposite position
described in Leo Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace”:
“For us, with the rule of right and wrong given us
by Christ, there is nothing for which we have no
standard. And there is no greatness where there is
no simplicity, goodness and truth” (Tolstoy, 1940,
165). The matter is not that Tolstoy is a writer,
and Marya Aleksandrovna is a literary heroine,
and not of his novel. It’s important that Tolstoy
stands on a world modeling position, traditional
for the Russian culture. From this position “good
and truth” appear to be a divine (external, aloof
from a personality, and objective) reality. Men
have nothing but take it.
Turgenev portrays “new” characters, who do
not believe in age-old truth. This is what makes
them “new”. “New” people are given birth to by
a crisis of Christianity, a “global project” as they
often call it now. “Don’t be afraid: I am not going
to force upon you any great truths, any profound
views. I have none of them – of those truths and
views” (Turgenev, 1980а, 25), Alexey Petrovich
writes to his old acquaintance, persuading her
to be in correspondence with him. He confesses:
“In my first youth nothing would satisfy me but
to take heaven by storm for myself” (Turgenev,
1980а, 47). The words “and find God there” were,
probably, not included in the story for censorship
reasons (Turgenev, 1980а, 396). The Russian
version finishes with the following phrase:
“Though who says what life is, what truth is? Do
you remember who didn’t answer this question?”
(Turgenev, 1980а, 48) (Italics are the writer’s
ones – V.V.). In the French version Turgenev
was more specific: “Rappelez-vous la question
posêe par Pilate, et restêe sans rêponse” (“Do
you remember the question asked by Pilate but
given no answer”). The matter concerns Pilate’s
question “What is truth?” that Jesus didn’t
answer (Turgenev, 1980а, 401) (See (St. John 18,
38)). The hero knows that the Gospel gives the
answer. Christ tells Pilate: “For this I was born
and for this I came into the world, to bear witness
to the truth” (Ibid. 18, 37). (Compare: “Jesus told
him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life”
(Ibid. 14, 6); “Grace and truth came through
Jesus Christ” (Ibid. 1, 17).) The answer is simply
ignored; in the nihilistic picture of world the truth
doesn’t exceed the limits of the statement of “two
and two makes four” type.
Marya Aleksandrovna is wrong to ask
Alexey Petrovich to remove her doubts and
support her beliefs. He is not capable of this. A
male philosopher and a female philosopher are
twin heroes. In the interpretation of a Russian
literary text they are people of “transitional”
times or “hard times”, a crisis, and thus the state
of a disease is inevitable. Due to the objective
course of history and their own choice, they
appeared in a pathological situation. Nonsense
of a human’s existence opened in front of them.
The world turned round its reverse side, the
essence of which is stated in the concepts of
“lie”, “free space” (Pavel Kirsanov’s defi nition),
“tragic situation” (Alexey Petrovich establishes
the universality of the situation to Marya
Aleksandrovna: “Your position one may really
call tragic. But let me tell you: “You are not alone
in it; there is scarcely any quite modern person
who isn’t placed in it” (Turgenev, 1980а, 37)).
Dostoevsky called it “underground”. A “new”
person faced the inevitability of re-actualization
of evil. It is in the sphere of anti-world where
Personality develops as a phenomenon and a fact
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not only in Russian culture but also in Christian
civilization of contemporary history. Turgenev
was one of the fi rst who grasped and described
this process.
In “Correspondence” a future union of
two lonely, unable to love people didn’t come
true. The day before his meeting with Marya
Aleksandrovna Alexey Petrovich falls in love
with a dancer, goes to Dresden after her and,
being left by her (!), dies from consumption.
Chulkaturin, his double and a hero of “Dnevnik
lishnego cheloveka” (“The Diary of a Superfluous
Man”) (1848-1850), also dies, sentenced by
doctors. Death of “progressive” heroes, whose
images were focused on the image of HamletMephistopheles, is rather metaphysical. The
nature itself “didn’t expect” their appearance
and thus treated them as “unexpected and
unwelcome guests” (Turgenev, 1980, 173). Thus,
it is not surprising why the writer gives none
of his main characters of this type any right to
live. Rudin is a “sophisticated self-murderer”,
Nezhdanov is a mere self-murderer, Bazarov
and Insarov die from an accidental disease,
etc. Ivan Sergeevich “will not allow” Natalya
Lassunskaya and Marrianna to cast in their lots
with heroes-revolutionists, put out their quixotic
enthusiasm. He will “match” them with ordinary
heroes with the only merit to regulate their life.
Elena Stakhova is the only novelistic heroine
who will choose a militant “Don Quixote”. In the
denouement of the plot of her life she will write:
“I sought happiness, and I shall fi nd – perhaps
death. It seems it was to be thus: it seems it was
a sin” (Turgenev, 1981, 298).
Conclusion
I think the readers will not be surprised
by the conclusion that Turgenev’s anthropology
isn’t out of date. Moreover, it is considered to be
scientific and artistic system, clarifying modern
picture of the world and a modern human’s
psychology / psychopathology. Turgenev’s text,
given a psychoanalytic analysis, displays the
degree of topicality that exceeds the topicality
of many fiction texts of recent times.
References
1. Anisimov К.V. (2011). “Bibliotechnyi ciuzhet” prozy I.A. Bunina v svete problem imperii i
natsii [The “library plot” of I.A. Bunin’s prose in the context of the problem of empire and nation]. Ab
Imperio, 3, 331-369.
2. Anisimova Е.Е. (2011). “Dusha moroznaia Svetlany – v mechtakh tainstvennoi igry”:
esteticheskie i biograficheskie kody Zhukovskogo v rasskaze Bunina “Natali” [“The frosty soul of
Svetlana – in dreams of a mysterious game”: Zhukovsky’s aesthetic and biographical codes in Bunin’s
“Natalie”]. Tomsk State University Journal of Philology, 2 (14), 78-84.
3. Bleich D. Subjective criticism. Baltimore; London, 1978. 309 p.
4. Dostoevsky F.M. Sobranie sochinenii: v 15 t. T. 4. Zimnie zametki o letnikh vpechatleniiakh
[Selected works: in 15 volumes. Vol. 4. Winter notes on summer impressions]. Leningrad, Nauka, 1989,
388-451.
5. Govorukhina, Yu.A. Russkaia literaturnaia kritika na rubezhe XX-XXI vv. [Russian
literary criticism at the turn of the ХХ-ХХI centuries]. Krasnoyarsk, Siberian Federal University,
2012. 359 p.
6. Kovtun N.V. (2011). On the Ruins of the “Crystal Palace” or the Fate of Russian Utopia in the
Classical Era (N. Chernyshevsky, F. Dostoevsky, M. Saltykov-Shchedrin). Journal of Siberian Federal
University. Humanities and Social Sciences, 7 (4), 1045-1057.
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7. M. Gorkii i A.P. Chekhov. Perepiska. Stat’i. Vyskazyvaniia: Sbornik materialov [М. Gorky
and A.P. Chekhov. Correspondence. Articles. Statements: Collected materials]. Мoscow, Goslitizdat,
1951. 288 p.
8. Olshansky D. (2008). The Birth of Structuralism from the Analysis of Fairy-Tales, available
at: http://www.utoronto.ca/tsq/25/Olshansky25.shtml
9. Tolstoy L.N. Polnoe sobranie sochinenii: v 90 t. T. 12. Voina i mir. T. 4 [Complete works: in 90
volumes. Vol. 12: War and Peace. Vol. 4]. Moscow, Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1940. 428 p.
10. Turgenev I.S. Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem: V 30 t. Sochineniia: V 12 t. T. 4. Povesti i
rasskazy. Stat’i i retsenzii 1844-1854 [Complete works and letters: in 30 volumes. Works: in 12 volumes.
Vol. 4. Stories and narratives. Articles and reviews 1844-1854]. Moscow, Nauka, 1980, 166-216.
11. Turgenev I.S. Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem: V 30 t. Sochineniia: V 12 t. T. 5. Povesti
i rasskazy 1853-1857 godov. Stat’i i vospominaniia 1855-1859 [Complete works and letters: in 30
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1855-1859]. Moscow, Nauka, 1980, 18-48, 330-348.
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[Complete works and letters: in 30 volumes. Works: in 12 volumes. Vol. 6. On the Eve]. Moscow,
Nauka, 1981, 159-300.
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1876. Predislovie k romanam [Complete works and letters: in 30 volumes. Works: in 12 volumes. Vol.
9.Virgin Soil. 1876. Preface to the novels]. Moscow, Nauka, 1982, 133-389, 390-396.
14. Uspenskii L.V. Ty i tvoe imia [You and your name]. Moscow, AST, 2008. 368 p.
15. Vasilyev V.K. (2011). On “typical” method at humanities. Journal of Siberian Federal
University. Humanities & Social Sciences, 4 (4), 588-592.
К семантике психотипа
“тургеневская девушка”
В.К. Васильев
Сибирский федеральный университет
Россия, 660041, Красноярск, пр. Свободный, 79
В статье тип “тургеневской девушки” рассмотрен с заявленной Тургеневым позиции
психопатологии. Читательское представление о “тургеневской девушке” – “романтической”,
“нравственной”, “духовной”, “передовой” (и пр.) героине – относится к сфере мифологии,
закрепленной за данным типом, прежде всего, марксистским литературоведением. В научном
понимании термина “тургеневская девушка” – впервые открытый и описанный Тургеневым
тип эмансипе, отвергающей традиционные представления о роли женщины в обществе.
(Начало такого понимания заложено в повести “Переписка”, 1844-1854 гг.) Она ищет героя,
вождя, способного открыть ей высшие истины бытия, и готова принести свою жизнь в
жертву. Такими истинами ей представляются идеи социальной революции. Она готова на
убийство по идеологическим мотивам. В романах “Рудин” (1855) и “Новь” (1876) Тургенев
показывает, что избранный героями путь ведет и их, и Россию к “сложному самоубийству”.
Классическая пара героев, предвосхищенных Тургеневым, – Надежда Крупская и Ульянов# 763 #
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Ленин. Цель работы заключается в том, чтобы показать образ “тургеневской девушки” вне
традиционной мифологии. Результаты – научное описание означенных психотипов – могут
быть использованы в преподавании истории русской и мировой литературы, психоанализа,
философии, культурологии, при построении ментальной истории.
Ключевые слова: Тургенев, “тургеневская девушка”, типология литературных героев, история
русской литературы, женская эмансипация, психопатология, ментальная история России.
Исследование проводилось в рамках интеграционного проекта Сибирского отделения
Российской академии наук “Литература и история: сферы взаимодействия и типы
повествования”.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 765-770
~~~
УДК 82-31
Leo Tolstoy’s Fyodor Dolokhov:
Between a Literary Image and a True Fact
Olga E. Gevel*
Siberian Federal University
79 Svobodny, Krasnoyarsk, 660041, Russia
Received 15.12.2013, received in revised form 25.02.2014, accepted 16.04.2014
The article focuses on the methods of image creation of Fyodor Dolokhov, one of Leo Tolstoy’s
strangest and ambiguous characters. Besides the relations between this image and three prototypes
well known in philology (Fyodor Tolstoy-American, Rufin Dorokhov, Alexander Figner) there is a
significant connection between Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dolokhov. The latter reveals itself in the
author’s attention to this character in his diary and many similar features (which Tolstoy wanted to
restrain in himself to become a better person).
Keywords: Tolstoy, Dolokhov, prototypes, diary, autobiographical character.
Introduction
The image of Fyodor Dolokhov, a character
of “War and Peace” epic novel, stand out in the
text. It doesn’t only dissociate itself from other
characters regarding the point of behaviour. It
neither objectively fits in with characterological
classifications, peculiar for the researches of
Tolstoy (the image doesn’t fit the dichotomy of
main and background characters), nor complies
with the novel’s typical chronotopos such as
family, estate ones, happiness “hidden in plain
view” (Morson, 1987). This peculiar distance
presupposes some reasons and conditions which
can be easier understood if the sources of the
image are taken into account.
Theoretical prerequisites
The researchers have outlined and thoroughly
portrayed a circle of Dolokhov’s prototypes.
*
Fyodor Tolstoy-American, a writer’s relative, is
considered to be the main prototype (this historic
personality is analyzed in T.N. Arkhangel’skaia’s
works (Arkhangel’skaia, 2010)). The biographies
of A.S. Figner, a partisan, and R.I. Dorokhov,
Pushkin’s and Lermontov’s contemporary,
considerably influenced the image of Tolstoy’s
character (the fact is admitted by B. Kandiev, in
particular (Kandiev, 1967)). R.I. Dorokhov is the
author of “Voennaia zhizn’ generala-leitenanta
Dorokhova” (“Lieutenant-general Dorokhov’s
military life”) biographic text, devoted to his
father, I.S. Dorokhov, whose features could also
influence Fyodor Dolokhov’s image (motifs of
the manuscript are similar to Dolokhov’s story
in “Peace and War”). Being Dolokhov’s probable
prototypes, the Dorokhovs (a father and a son)
represent the connection between the image and
Tolstoy’s early narrative “Dva gusara” (“Two
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: olyagevel@mail.ru
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hussars”) with such characters as the Turbins, a
father and a son.
The images of a Turbin father and Yashvin
(“Anna Karenina”) also go back to F.I. TolstoyAmerican’s documentarily fi xed features.
“Yashvin, a gambler and a rake, a man not
merely without moral principles, but of immoral
principles <…> Vronsky liked him both for his
exceptional physical strength, which he showed
for the most part by being able to drink like
a fish, and do without sleep without being in
the slightest degree affected by it; and for his
great strength of character which he displayed
towards chiefs and friends, provoking fear and
respect to himself” (Tolstoy 1928-1958, Vol.
18, 186).
“War and Peace” describes Dolokhov the
following way: “Dolokhov could play all games
and nearly always won. However much he drank,
he never lost his clear-headedness” (Tolstoy 19281958, Vol. 9, 39). Fyodor Turbin’s appearance is
similar to that of Fyodor Dolokhov’s. Turbin was
“not tall but perfectly built. His clear blue and
extremely sparkling eyes and rather long, curling
dark brown hair gave his beauty a remarkable
character” (Tolstoy 1928-1958, Vol. 3, 157).
As for Dolokhov, he was “of medium height”
(Tolstoy 1928-1958, Vol. 9, 38), with a slim figure
(Tolstoy 1928-1958, Vol. 9, 144), huge, combed
high bush of curly hair (Tolstoy 1928-1958, Vol.
10, 325), blue eyes, repeatedly characterized
as “clear” in the text. In “Dva gusara” (“Two
hussars”) it is said about a Turbin father: “Who
abducted Migunova? He. It was he who killed
Sablin. It was he who dropped Matnev out of
the window by his legs. It was he who won three
hundred thousand rubles from Prince Nestorov.
He is a regular dare-devil, you know: a gambler,
a duelist, a seducer, but a jewel of a hussar – a
real jewel” (Tolstoy 1928-1958, Vol. 3, 147). The
same can be said about Dolokhov. P. Gromov
in his “O stile L’va Tolstogo. ‘Dialektika dushi’
v ‘Voine i mire’” (“On Leo Tolstoy’s style.
‘Dialectics of soul’ in ‘War and Peace’”) arrives
at an interesting conclusion: “A Turbin father can
be present there (in “War and Peace” – O.G.) in
the role of Dolokhov’s equal partner, can even
drink a bottle of rum on an open slanting cornice
of a window instead of him” (Gromov, 1977, 245).
This equivalence of images is very important as it
reveals their alliance.
Tolstoy and Dolokhov:
relations of attraction and repulsion
Commonness of Turbin’s, Dolokhov’s and
Yashvin’s characteristics proves that the images
of this “borderline” type (fire-eaters, gamblers,
professional soldiers) meant something special
(and invariant) in poetics of Tolstoy’s works.
Leo Tolstoy’s diaries and letters contain
motifs and features, bringing the writer and his
main characters together. It has become common
to compare details in Tolstoy’s diaries with Levin’s
image. Tolstoy himself regarded his childhood,
adolescence and youth to be the most important
material for the trilogy with the same title.
The researcher’s reaction is also indicative. He
deliberately shortens the “distance” between the
author and a character (characters). Thus, RankurLafar’er, a French-American Slavonic scholar,
assumes that Pierre and Andrey are probably two
poles of Tolstoy’s ambiguous attitude towards
Russian peasantry and Russian people in general
(Rankur-Lafar’er, 2004). It was common for
Soviet philology to apply N.G. Chernyshevsky’s
definition “dialectics of soul” to Leo Tolstoy’s
creative work (Govorukhina, 2012). To a greater
extent it is probably the dialectics of the writer’s
soul who seemingly split it into myriads of parts,
having endowed all the characters with his ideas
and traits of character.
O.V. Slivitskaia mentions Dolokhov’s special
place in the novel. She proves it by K. Leont’ev’s
neat notice that Tolstoy loves “mean Dolokhov”
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as well (Slivitskaia, 2009). S.A. Tolstaia writes
to her husband in her letter dated July 29, 1865:
“I like Dolokhov very much” (Tolstaia, 1936,
58). It should be also emphasized that Dolokhov
is mentioned in Tolstoy’s diary more often than
other characters of the epic novel (the fact serves
the evidence how hard the writer worked at this
image).
Dolokhov constantly appears near the main
characters of the epic novel, setting each of them
off and becoming their temporary contextual
double. Peculiar relations of “attraction-andrepulsion” are formed between Fyodor Dolokhov
and Nikolai Rostov, Andrey Bolkonsky, Pierre
Bezukhov. In a case with Nikolai and Pierre the
scheme of “friendship-animosity” is activated. It
is marked with love triangle twice. The situation
with Andrey Bolkonsky is a bit more complicated.
The characters never face each other though
Andrey as if constantly watches Dolokhov and
turns to be extremely conformable with him in
his “napoleon” period (Sekirinskii, 2012). A
love triangle here is complicated by the parties,
though it is definitely absent that becomes clear if
the fact that it is Dolokhov who develops the plan
of kidnapping of Natasha, Bolkonsky’s bride,
by Anatoly is taken into account. It should be
pointed out that the plot significance of Fyodor
Dolokhov’s image is proved rather easily: at this
character’s exclusion from the text of the novel
the scene of the story inevitably stops while we
can easily imagine the plot of “War and Peace”
without such characters as Boris, Berg, and
Bilibin, for example.
It is evident that there was something that
attracted the writer of “War and Peace” to this
ambiguous character.
Fyodor Dolokhov is an ambivalent image.
This might be also connected with several
prototypes in its basis. He is both in Tolstoy’s
text: a crafty devil, cold-blooded gamblerscrapper, and a pure angelic soul (Kovtun, 2012).
This ambivalence keeps him in harmony with
Tolstoy’ judgments about a human. In his novel
“Voskresen’e” (“Ressurrection”) Leo Tolstoy
wrote: “People are like rivers: the water in each of
them is the same but each river can be sometimes
narrow, or fast, or wide, or slow, or transparent,
or muddy, or warm. The same with people. Every
person has seeds of all human qualities, and
sometimes he displays some of them, other times
others…” (Tolstoy, 1928-1958, Vol. 32, 194). As
the time ran he himself as well as his views and
artistic world also changed greatly. In his letter to
A.A. Tolstaia dated October 17-31, 1863 he notes:
“Proves it the weakness of character or its force
(I sometimes think that both are involved), but I
must confess that my view on life, people, and
society is totally different from what I thought
last time, when we met” (Tolstoy, 1928-1958, Vol.
61, 23), “I can hardly understand myself a person
I was a year ago” (Tolstoy, 1928-1958, Vol. 61,
24).
Young Leo Tolstoy wished “to be colder
as far as possible and display no impression”
(Tolstoy, 1928-1958, Vol. 46, 40). In “Dolokhov”
concept the idea of cold is a key one (his eyes and
stare, and the manner of his speech are “cold”,
even the root of this Russian surname is noticed
to be the inversion of the noun “kholod” (cold):
cf. two surnames “Dolokh-ov”– *“Kholodov”). “Tolerate no slightest misfortune or
biting word without paying them back twice as
much,” was further written in Tolstoy’s diary
(Tolstoy, 1928-1958, Vol. 46, 41). Dolokhov’s
uncompromisingness, his revenge in the form of
a card duel to Nikolai Rostov, caused by jealousy,
are easily recollected (Anisimova, 2010). Jealousy
was always an extremely significant motif for
Tolstoy. It is well-known that the tragedies
“Anna Karenina” and “The Kreutzer Sonata” are
connected with the feeling of jealousy proper.
This feeling is also vital in the plot of Tolstoy’s
early narrative “Family Happiness” (Vasil’ev,
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2010). Gambling serves an important interlink
between Tolstoy and Dolokhov (when young
the writer was obsessed by gambling, he even
gambled his house in Yasnaya Polyana once; as
for Dolokhov, he constantly wins).
The writer often mentioned “Tolstoyan
wildness” as a peculiar family feature. It was
most vividly revealed in legendary TolstoyAmerican (Dolokhov’s main prototype). This
wildness was also peculiar for all the family
members to a different extent. In Dolokhov’s
image “wildness” strikingly manifests itself both
in military episodes and in peaceful ones (burst
by his presence though).
Leo Tolstoy made up endless lists of codes
of behavior and life not without reason. He did
it in order to put this “family wildness” down,
to frame it into “comme il faut” concept first as
it was important for him when a young person,
and then into more serious ethic-and-Christian
limiting ideas.
One more parallel can be mentioned if the
attention is focused on the notes in the writer’s
diary about Dolokhov and hunting (the character’s
reference to a “bear huntsman at Kostroma”). As
for hunting, in early versions of “War and Peace”
these are Dolokhov’s descriptions that contain
reference to it: “Suddenly it seemed to Dolokhov
that it is easy to deal with a rosy officer and his
soldier instead of this terrible mysterious mass.
He was consumed with this hunter’s feeling of
being eager to kill an animal that goes farther
than a feeling of danger. Thus he didn’t feel any
other excitement but joy <...>His animal was a
rosy-cheeked officer” (Tolstoy, 1928-1958, Vol.
13, 401). It’s significant that the symbolism of
hunting didn’t disappear afterwards, but these
were Russian people who tuned into hunters,
while Napoleon turned into a “wounded animal”
(Anisimov, 2010).
In Tolstoy’s diaries Dolokhov is always
mentioned in connection with hunting: “October,
15. Felt gall, was angry with a hunter. The hunting
was bad. Two chapters have been thoroughly
thought over. Nothing good comes out of Brykov
and Dolokhov. Could have worked more”,
“October, 17. Had bad hunting before lunch time.
Wasn’t eager to write <…> Got a clear idea of
the place of Dolokhov’ shunting”, “October, 20.
I’m draining my strength with hunting. Had to
reread, rewrite. Things are moving. The scene
with Dolokhov is outlined” (Tolstoy, 1928-1958,
Vol. 48, 65).
Afterwards Tolstoy will stop hunting, having
set the next limiting frame. As for Dolokhov, his
image goes far beyond any limits (crossing “the
borders” is a constant motif connected with this
image). He seems to personify everything the
writer tried to crucify.
Conclusion
Absence of attachment to the family and a
bad luck in a family life are vividly embodied
in the analyzed literary image (Oliver, 2003).
Being characteristic to each prototype, they are
paradoxical and tremendous. This, probably,
explains why Tolstoy forced this “wilderness”
out of his life, but, nevertheless, left his large
family.
The image of “a natural human”, breaking
social conventions by his behaviour, was always
close to Tolstoy, a former admirer of Russo
(Layton, 1994). Dolokhov is in keeping with
this concept of “natural”. But he has nothing
to do with Russo’s pacific pattern as he is an
“animal”, a “beast” whose natural state of life is
a war, “hunting”. The relations of attraction and
repulsion always came into existence between
a biographical image of Tolstoy’s author’s
instance and Dolokhov as an embodiment of
symbolic-and-behavioral spheres of “war” and
“hunting”.
Outlined and analyzed motif correspondence
proves that Dolokhov’s image is to some extent
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an autobiographical one. Thus, regarding a
biographical dimension of an author’s personality,
Tolstoy himself can be ranked among Dolokhov’s
prototypes.
References
1. Anisimov, К.V. Tolstovskie preteksty v proze I.A. Bunina: na granites prapamiati i istorizma
[Tolstoy’s pretexts in I.A. Bunin’s prose: at the boundary of original memory and historicism]. Lev
Tolstoi i vremia (Leo Tolstoy and time). Tomsk, Izdatel’stvo Tomskogo universiteta, 2010, 94-105.
2. Anisimova, Е.Е. (2010). Zhukovskiii Bunin: evolutsiia obraza zerkala v russkoi literature
XIX – nachala XX veka [Zhukovsky and Bunin: evolution of the image of mirror in literature of the
XIX – XX centuries]. Filologiia i chelovek, 2, 66-78.
3. Arkhangel’skaia, Т.N. “Na svete nravstvennom zagadka”. F.I. Tolstoi-Amerikanets: stranitsy
zhizni [“A mystery in the moral world”. F.I. Tolstoy-American: pages of life]. Tula, Iasnaia poliana,
2010. 188 p.
4. Govorukhina, Iu.А. Istoriia kritiki kak smena teksto(smyslo) porozhdaiushchikh modelei
[History of criticism as a change of text (meaning) production patterns]. Universaliikul’tury. Vyp. IV.
Esteticheskaia i massovaia kommunikatsiia: voprosy teorii i praktiki (Culture universals. Vol. IV.
Esthetic and mass communication: issues of theory and practice). Krasnoyarsk, Siberian Federal
University, 2012, 156-178.
5. Gromov, P.P. ‘Dialektika dushi’ v ‘Voinei mire’” [“On Leo Tolstoy’s style. ‘Dialectics of soul’
in ‘War and Peace’”]. Leningrad, Khudozhestvennaia literature, 1977. 484 p.
6. Kandiev, B.I. Roman-epopeia L.N. Tolstogo “Voinaimir”. Kommentarii [Leo Tolstoy’s epic
novel “War and Peace”. Commentaries]. Moscow, Prosveshchenie, 1967. 392 p.
7. Kovtun, N.V. “Nikol’skii” i “georgievskii” kompleksy v povestiakh V.G. Rasputina (kanon,
narodno-poeticheskaia interpretatsiia, istoriosofiia avtora) [“St. Nicholas” and “St. George” complexes
in V.G. Rasputin’s stories (canon, folklore interpretation, author’s historiosophy]. Universalii kul’tury.
Vyp. IV. Esteticheskaia i massovaia kommunikatsiia: voprosy teorii i praktiki (Culture universals. Vol.
IV. Esthetic and mass communication: issues of theory and practice). Krasnoyarsk, Siberian Federal
University, 2012, 64-93.
8. Kurbatov, V.Ia. Vstupitel’naia stat’ia [Introductory article]. In: Zverev, А.М., Tunimanov,
V.А. Lev Tolstoi [Leo Tolstoy].Moscow, Molodaia gvardiia, 2007. 782 p.
9. Layton, S. Russian literature and empire. Conquest of Caucasus from Pushkin to Tolstoy.
Cambridge University Press, 1994. 372 p.
10. Morson, G. S. Hidden in Plain View. Narrative and Creative Potentials in “War and Peace”.
Stanford University Press, 1987. 322 p.
11. Oliver, D. (2003). Dolokhov as Romantic Parody: Ambiguity and Incongruity in Tolstoy’s
Pre-Byronic Hero. Tolstoy Studies Journal, XV, 50-66.
12. Rankur-Lafar’er, D. Russkaia literature i psikhoanaliz [Russian literature and psychoanalysis].
Moscow, Ladomir, 2004. 1017 p.
13. Sekirinskii, S.S. (2012). Napoleon v Rossii: sud’ba legendy [Napoleon in Russia: a legend’s
fate]. Rossiiskaia istoriia, 6, 143-157.
14. Tolstaia, S.А.Pis’ma k L.N. Tolstomu [Letters to Leo Tolstoy]. Moscow; Leningrad, Academia,
1936. 862 p.
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15. Tolstoy, L.N. (1928-1958) Polnoe sobranie sochinenii: v 90 t. (Iubileinoe) [(1928-1958)
Complete works: in 90 volumes. (Anniversary edition)]. Moscow, GIKhL, Vol. 3,9-13, 32, 46, 61.
16. Vasil’ev, V.К. К opisaniiu arkhetipicheskogo siuzheta o “dobrykh” i “zlykh zhenakh” v
romane L.N. Tolstogo “Voina I mir” [On the description of an archetypic plot about “good” and “bad
wives” in L.N. Tolstoy’s novel “Peace and War”]. Lev Tolsto i ivremia (Leo Tolstoy and time). Tomsk,
Izdatel’stvo Tomskogo universiteta, 2010, 25-34.
Федор Долохов Л.Н. Толстого:
между литературностью образа
и достоверностью факта
О.Е. Гевель
Сибирский федеральный университет
Россия, 660041, Красноярск, пр. Свободный, 79
В статье рассматриваются методы создания одного из самых странных и амбивалентных
образов в творчестве Л.Н. Толстого – Федора Долохова. Помимо трех хорошо известных в
литературоведении прототипов Долохова (Федора Толстого-Американца, Руфина Дорохова,
Александра Фигнера) обнаруживается значимая соотнесенность этого героя с самим
автором, которую можно подтвердить особенным вниманием Толстого к созданию образа
Долохова и совпадением ряда характерных черт (которые Толстой хотел в себе подавить,
чтобы стать лучше).
Ключевые слова: Толстой, Долохов, прототипы, дневники, автобиографический персонаж.
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 771-777
~~~
УДК 82/821.0
“Weariness” of Fiction
(from the History of the Literocentrism Crisis
in the Russian Silver Age)
Vyacheslav N. Krylov*
Kazan Federal University
18 Kremlyovskaya Str., Kazan, 420008, Russia
Received 14.02.2014, received in revised form 12.03.2014, accepted 28.03.2014
The article discusses some trends in changing the artistic thinking in the 19th-20th centuries, a synthesis
of the documentary and the artistic in the genre system, as well as literary and critical discussions
about the crisis of literature.
Keywords: literocentrism, crisis, fiction, document, literary criticism.
The fact that Russian literature has lost the
dominant role in culture gives rise to a number
of consequences, including a status (social
status) of a writer, a changed ratio of “high” and
popular literature, magazine culture, reading
practices, an impact of means of communication
on the role of literature in the field of culture
(Grübel, 2004). This phenomenon, which has
been talked about a lot for the last two decades,
is unlikely to be associated with the sociopolitical consequences of recent times. It is more
correct to speak of the global trend conditioned
by a change of functions of literature. As said by
Wolfgang Iser, “the place of literature in modern
society is something that can no longer be taken
for granted” (Iser, 2004, 22). At the same time,
the internal processes are equally important: in
literature itself, as well as in literary criticism
certain attempts to overcome this crisis can be
noticed. >>>>
*
For example, in a situation of the turn of
the 21st century in literary criticism there is a
“metacriticism activation and understanding
of the problem of survival in the socio-cultural
conditions in the late 20th century as an existential
issue associated with the search for identity
and a successful communication strategy”
(Govorukhina, 2012, 58-59). In this article we
will focus on the Russian Silver Age. The Silver
Age in modern science is seen as the second
stage (in the history of modern literature) of the
Russian literocentrism testing. By the turn of the
20th century “weariness of words, disappointment
in them and even distrust of them” can be easily
noticed (Khrenov, 2002, 52). The hegemony of
literature was thoroughly undermined by nonverbal arts (Kondakov, 2008, 27-31). However,
during this era, there were very interesting and
promising theoretical and practical (artistic)
searches for new ways to achieve authenticity.
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: krylov77@list.ru
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Problems of the document and its role in literature,
an issue of the boundaries of literature, ways to
overcome the crisis of literature along with other
issues became the subject of thorough theoretical
reflections in the Silver Age. Let us discuss some
of them.
V. Rozanov said: “A strange feeling of
disgust and, at the same time, connectivity with
literature has never left me, and still does not
leave me, especially in recent years. I write as
if I carry a heavy burden to the end. There are
seeds in my soul and they grow. It is not clear
to me whether they are kind or evil, I do not
even ask myself. A wise reader will defi nitely
separate the wheat from the chaff; there is no
doubt that not only certain expressions, words,
demands, thoughts, but even the whole range
of ideas expressed by me seem to be or actually
are evil. There is only one thing that can serve
as an excuse for me: fi rstly, perfect and sincere
ignorance of what is the truth and what is evil;
perfect involuntariness of writing: I would write
evil just like good, so the question could only
be about printing. Literature took everything I
loved and respected – a spontaneous life; and
engaged me in what I have never respected and
loved – an external objective life. Therefore, I
always wrote with hostility to the very writing
and the subjects of writing. Hence the feeling
of my literary disgust. Literature has always
been my prison that covered the sunlight,
people I loved and nature. It is a green surface
of my desk that is nature to me, a circle of
my friends” (Rozanov, 1990, 33). In “Fallen
leaves” Rozanov says: “Not literature, but
literariness is terrible – literariness of soul,
literariness of life < ... >. That is why, in fact,
there is no need in literature... It is not great
literature we need, but a great, beautiful and
healthy life. Literature can be of any quality,
in the background. <...> Maybe we live during
the great ending of literature” (Rozanov, 2010,
79). Rozanov is the extreme expression of antiliterariness, anti-literariness attacks, which has
been written a lot in the studies about him.
But if we refer to the statements of other less
radical contemporaries, it turns out that this is a
general feeling, a general trend of the era. It is
characteristic of such subtle and refined artists
as Z. Gippius, D. Filosofov (criticism of the
Silver Age has a lot of such words as “literature”,
“literariness” expressing an ironic attitude to
literature in its opposition to a true and real life).
In the Silver Age people debated a lot on what
is dominant (what is more important for the
reader now) – a document or literature? Here, for
example, is a Z. Gippius’s argument that is very
indicative of the post-revolutionary situation
(in 1908 she wrote a column titled “From a
journalist’s diary” in “The Russian Thought”
Magazine): “My subject is wider than literature.
Right now I am engaged in the spiritual life of
young people, but not just its reflection in art,
not the art works of talented representatives of
the younger generation. Most of them do not
write, do not publish and have no particular
talent – and yet somehow they live, and there is
a commonality of issues between them, which
they seek to resolve somehow; perhaps, they
face these issues with equally new acuteness
and feel the same need to resolve them all over
again, differently, not paternally, but in their
own way. <...> Literature is just one of the areas
for research. It helps the study, but ... we should
select the least literary things from it: they are
more valuable. They are closer to life. They are
almost human documents, and that, in this case, is
what important to us. Blok and even Gorodetsky,
their collections of poems are characteristic in
their way, but we do not need them right now.
Apart from talent, Gorodetsky has so much pure
literariness that no one could get to it in the first
place. It is covered with all the soot of Petersburg
literary environment. Even Leonid Andreyev
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is more interesting in this case. Although he
is far behind the most acute experiences of
young people, he has an actual connection
with them, and his “artistic” works, thanks to
their bleakness from literature, their frank and
natural maladroitness, are more interesting
and documentary than Block’s and Vyacheslav
Ivanov’s. Scattered fragments of authentic
“abstracts” written by young people and feeble
“Monday” articles in “the Rus’” newspaper that
sometimes were clumsily framed in a literary
form of the story...” are even more interesting
(Gippius, 2003, 305) (italics added – V.K.). This
argument is connected with two vital and literary
issues of the time: 1) a question of young people,
deterioration in morals among young people
(many wrote about it); and 2) a question of the
assessment of literary experiments of the young
(“authentic “abstracts” of the youth”), some
“texts of life”. In the era of the so-called reaction
following the first Russian revolution, the level
of public morality decreased a lot; murders and
robberies became commonplace; thirst for new
sensations and spectacles penetrated through the
masses. D. Filosofov then wrote (in his review
on the novel of B. Savinkov “The Pale Horse”
in 1909): “Thanks to Leonid Andreev, SergeevTsensky and many others we are accustomed to
the literary horrors. Besides, a modern Russian
reality is full of such nightmares that we have lost
the measure of a normal, healthy life. Nothing
surprises us anymore. A personality is turned
into a static unit. Cholera, suicides, murders,
death penalties stopped being a reality, they took
the form of static plates that we look through
indifferently and often do not even pay attention
to them in the “boring” newspapers. It is hard to
believe that somewhere people laugh, play, have
fun and live a normal life. Fate laid a way too
heavy burden on the generation that consciously
survived external and internal defeat in recent
years. This generation may never recover. But
if it does recover, it will still remain crippled,
with an aggrieved soul” (Filosofov, 2010, 276277) (how contemporary these words from 1909
sound!).
Indeed, the press of that time wrote a lot about
young people. In 1907-1908 in the “The Russian
School” magazine G. Agraev wrote a series of
articles devoted to a morbid state of the youth
(specifically, they were about the emergence of
different societies such as “the Stumps” (Ogarki),
“Carpe Diem” (Lovi Moment) and others in the
Russian cities).
The intensity of public life in the early
th
20 century (especially after 1905) leads to the
fact that literary fiction falls by the wayside,
the role of the “texts of life” increases, they are
often more important than fiction. As noted by a
columnist of “the Moskvich” newspaper, “in the
most recent, disturbing months full of surprises
and huge events, polite literature somehow has
been relegated to the background completely.
Questions of the day, questions of the burning
modernity took over everything, enslaved
everything (Moskvich, 1906, 1). This statement
echoes with D. Filosofov. Reflecting on the impact
of the revolution on literature, he wrote: “The
simple facts of life told in any newspaper killed
any kind of literature, any kind of the “artistic”
image. None of our writers could rise above the
events, look at them in a certain perspective”
(Filosofov, 2010, 277).
We can say that the trend of “polarization of
fiction and the truth that were often so peacefully
inseparable in the Balzac-naturalistic time”
(S. Velikovsky, cited by: Mestergazi, 2003, 137)
had already started establishing in the early 20th
century. With this we associate several features
of the literary life of that time:
1. The increase in the weight of documentary
texts in periodicals and genuine interest of writers
of the first grade in the original texts. This feature
has also been noted by D. Filosofov in the article
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titled “Decadent peasants”: “Thick magazines,
and in particular historical ones, cherish
correspondence of famous people and gladly
publish letters written by Turgenev, Herzen,
Dostoevsky and Chernyshevsky. But now there is
a new fashion. In their articles famous writers cite
extracts from letters of unknown people, from
the letters of simple peasants” (further Filosofov
cites as an example an article by Alexander Blok
“Literary results of 1907” (“Golden Fleece”),
which includes extracts from a letter of a young
peasant from a far Northern province (Filosofov,
2010, 170).
2 . General democratization of literature and
professionals’ advent to literature. This feature
is very accurately noted by E. Koltonovskaya in
the article titled “Literature and “writers of the
people”: “The characteristic feature of modern
literature is that it is being “democratized” not
in a serious, ideological sense of the word, but in
the everyday, street one. A reader, once passive
and silent, pretends to the role of the writer.
A commoner is gradually replacing a literary
specialist <...> Magazines are filled with all
sorts of amateurish works – diaries, memoirs and
personal life stories, etc. Writers by avocation
are drowning among them like raindrops in the
sea. What a strange time! Everybody writes...
But to do them justice, their writing is not bad
at all – very “smooth” and entertaining. They
write in abundance, vigorously knocking on
the literature’s door, require that the writers
change roles with them and read their works”
(long before the Russian Proletarian Writers’
Association – V.K.). E. Koltonovskaya believes
that “literature does not need all this raw
material: it is simple junk! But as a material, as
a direct voice of life, amateurish works can be
interesting sometimes” (Koltonovskaya 1912,
169). It is simply functioning of clean (primary)
genres of everyday life, which may belong to
anyone, they “seem to enter the culture through
the back door” (Mestergazi, 2008.18). However,
the emergence of such texts resulted in a critical
overestimation of the “newcomers” in literature
(for example, estimates of B. Savinkov’s novel
“The Pale Horse” by Z. Gippius, D. Filosofov).
3. The newest research on the specifics
of the genre system of the Silver Age reveals
two opposing processes: canonization and
introduction to literature of common speech
genres (diary, letter, etc.) balanced by the desire
to create synthetic genres. At the same time, the
process of genres decanonization occurs. “On
the contrary, compared with the turn of the 19th
century it gets stronger and leads to the fact that
an artist tends to overstep the boundaries of not
only traditional genres, but also some forms
of art, and even pass the line between art and
life, which was impossible before. Hence the
influential concept of theurgy as art of forms
of life itself, which initiated the relevant search
in the field of drama and theater; as well as the
increased role of “texts of life” (Z.G. Mintz) that
also become a fact of art. In this case, with all
the apparent opposition of these trends comes the
Tolstoy’s “it is a shame to write the artistic” and
an attempt to overcome the boundaries between
“the literary” and “the nonliterary” in diaries
and the late prose of L. Tolstoy and the works of
Rozanov” (Broitman, 2009, 13).
4. By the 1910s, the time of summing up the
fi rst results of literature of the late 19th-early 20th
centuries, criticism clearly captures changes
in the functions of Russian literature. Same
thoughts were also expressed in the 19th century.
In the article “On the exaggerated importance
attached to the action of literature” a Slavophile
I.S. Aksakov wrote: “...due to the abnormal
social development, we attach a completely
inappropriate importance to literature – it is
compelled by circumstances to often play an
unusual role that is not legal at all <...> Our
literature does not have a single direct action for
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Vyacheslav N. Krylov “Weariness” of Fiction…
not less than seventy million people and limits
its value only by our society insignificant in size
in relation to the territory size and volume of the
population” (Aksakov, 2006, 193). N. Shapir in
the article titled “Teaching of Literature” reflects
on the reasons for dominance in our culture of
literature. Among other things, he points to the
“small differentiation of the national psyche”,
as well as the “passivity and meditativeness of
the national psyche”. According to the critic,
it would seem that the modern stage should
increase differentiation in culture, but at the turn
of the century a general philosophical and moral
significance of fiction got more exaggerated. In
conclusion, N. Shapir put a general question:
“How legal is it for the master of the pen <...>
to search for philosophical and evaluation
ideas, solutions of the issue of the world outlook
and “the meaning of life?” (Shapir, 1913, 31).
K. Chukovsky in “Nat Pinkerton and modern
literature” notes the emergence in literature of
writers who “do not lead anywhere”. But what
is especially significant is that the reader, as it
turned out, needed such writers: “our Russian
reader needs such a non-teaching writer for the
fi rst time” (Chukovsky, 2003, 59). In the article
“The Past and the Future of Slavophilism”
F. Stepun came to almost the same conclusion:
“Now it is clear to all that lately it (the art –
V.K.) seems to have lost the importance it had
in previous years: it ceased to be the conscience,
confession and conviction of the spiritual
Russia. Previously, the writer was required to
describe how one should live. Now it is fi ne that
he tells how everybody lives. Previously, art
was the method of construction of life, but today
the whole world has become a material for the
creation of art” (Stepun, 1913, 124).
Thus, the Silver Age demonstrates
“weariness” of fiction and the apparent increase
in the documentary basis as an attempt to
overcome the crisis of literature. This prompts
to make adjustments to the picture of the
literary process of the 20 th century. Relying on
P. Palievsky and fairly making clarifications
to his concept (he linked the spread of the fact
with the Second World War) E. Mestergazi
refers a sharp change in relation to the fact
and, according to the modified expression of
Yu.N. Tynianov, its reciprocal expansion into
the literature not to the critical forties, but to
the First World War and revolution (Mestergazi,
2003, 136). However, as evidenced by the facts,
these trends are maturing even earlier, in the
fi rst decade of the 20th century. But at the same
time this period became a time of literature’s
loss of philosophical functions and awareness of
this process by a part of the intellectual elite.
References
1. Aksakov, I.S. (2006) U Rossii odna-edinstvennaya stolitsa… [Russia has one and only
capital...] (Poems. Plays. Articles, essays, speeches. Letters. From the memories and opinions about
I.S. Aksakov) . Moscow: Russkiy mir, 512.
2. Broitman, S.N., Magomedov, D.M., Tamarchenko, N.D. (2009) Zhanr i zhanrovaya sistema v
russkoi literature kontsa 19-nachala 20 veka [A genre and a genre system in Russian literature in the
late 19th-early 20th century] Poetics of Russian literature in the late 19th-early 20th century. Dynamics of
the genre. Common problems. Prose. Moscow: Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy
of Sciences. 5-76.
3. Chukovsky, K.I. (2003) Collected Works: in 15 volumes, Moscow: Terra. V.7. 736 p.
4. Filosofov, D.V. (2010) Critical articles and notes 1899-1916. Moscow: Institute of World
Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 680.
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5. Gippius, Z.N. (2003) Collected Works. V. 7: My i oni [Us and Them]. Literary journal. –
Moscow: Russkaya kniga. 528.
6. Govorukhina, Yu. A. (2012) Russkaya literaturnaya kritika na rubezhe 20-21 vekov [Russian
literary criticism at the turn of the 21st century]. Krasnoyarsk. 359 p.
7. Grübel Rainer (2004) Form und Medium (Kommunikationsmittel). Ihr Wert als Faktor bei
der Bestimmung der Rolle und Stellung der Kunst und Literatur auf dem Gebiet der Kultur // Russian
Literature, Volume 56, Issues 1–3. 87-105.
8. Iser, B. (2004) Izmeneniye funktsiy literatury [Changing the functions of literature].
Contemporary Literary Theory. Moscow: Flinta: Science. 22-45.
9. Khrenov, N.A. (2002) Opyt kulturologicheskoy interpretatsii perekhodnykh protsessov
[Experience of the culturological interpretation of transition processes]. Art in a situation of a cycle
change. M. 11-55.
10. Koltonovskaya, E.A. (1912) Kriticheskiye etyudy [Critical studies]. St. Petersburg. 292 p.
11. Kondakov, I. (2008) Po tu storonu slova [Beyond the word] (The crisis of literocentrism in
Russia in the 20-21 centuries). Problems of Literature. Issue No. 5. 5-44.
12. Mestergazi, E.G. (2003) Dokumentalnoye nachalo v literature [Documentary basis in
literature]. Theoretical-literary results of the 20th century. V.1. Nauka. 134-160.
13. Mestergazi, E.G. (2008) Khudozhestvennaya slovesnost’ i realnost’ [Fictional literature and
reality] (documentary basis in Russian literature of the 20th century): Author’s abstract on a PhD thesis.
M. 49.
14. Moskvich (1906). Issue No. 18. March 18.
15. Rozanov, V.V. (1990) O sebe i zhizni moei [About me and my life]. Moscow: Moskovskiy
rabochiy. 876 p.
16. Rozanov, V.V. (2010) Collected Works. Listva [Foliage]. M.: Respublika, St. Petersburg:
Rostok. 591 p.
17. Shapir, N. (1913) Uchitelstvo literatury [Teaching of literature]. The Russian thought. No. 4.
15-37.
18. Stepun, F. (1913) Proshloye i budushcheye slavyanofilstva [The past and the future of
Slavophilism] Northern notes. No. 11. 121-137.
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Vyacheslav N. Krylov “Weariness” of Fiction…
«Усталость» от вымысла
(из истории кризиса литературоцентризма
в русском Серебряном веке)
В.Н. Крылов
Казанский федеральный университет
Россия, 420008, Казань, ул. Кремлевская, 18
В статье рассмотрены некоторые тенденции изменения художественного мышления рубежа
XIX–XX веков, синтез документального и художественного в жанровой системе, а также
литературно-критические дискуссии о кризисе литературы.
Ключевые слова: литературоцентризм, кризис, вымысел, документ, литературная критика.
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 778-789
~~~
УДК 82-31
The Mythologem of the North
in the Early Works of L.M. Leonov
(on the Example of the Story
“The Death of Egorushka”)
Alena O. Zadorina*
Siberian Federal University
79 Svobodny, Krasnoyarsk, 660041, Russia
Received 07.02.2014, received in revised form 17.03.2014, accepted 24.04.2014
The article considers the creative implementation of the mythologem of the North in literature at the
beginning of the 20th century. The general interest of artists and thinkers to the phenomenon of the
myth, understanding of its profound energy, as well as the need for the myth as a spiritual support,
are the typical features of the neomythologization process. Writers turn to the mythologem of the
North not only because of the desire to find a new, unusual topic for narration, but also because of
its typical heterogeneity, ambivalence, when there is a fine line between holiness and demonicity.
In L.M. Leonov’s work, this controversy is preserved and even intensified, the place of faith becomes
the place of universal desperation. The creative idea of the artist is explained not only by crisis moods
of the beginning of the century, but also by social and political reforms of the new rule. The mythologem
preserves unchangeable components: mythological space, mythological time, the image of a demiurge,
a hero, motifs of challenge and initiation. An eschatological motif presented latently by the author, on
the background of the continuing life, appears to be a new solution.
Keywords: Russian North, mythologem, Belovodye, ambivalence, holiness, national landscape.
Introduction
to the Research Problem
In the research picture of the world of the
20 century, mythological discourse has become
an object of intense study in various fields of
knowledge: psychology, philosophy, philology,
political science ... Consciousness of the close
connection of the myth not only with the Antique
culture, but with peculiarities of the human world
view in general, penetration of mythological
structures into all spheres of life, on the one hand,
and an appeal to the mythology as a never-ending
th
*
depository of symbolic, allegorical plots, on the
other hand, are the typical features of the modern
attitude of artists and thinkers to the myth.
The phenomenon of “polimythologicity”
(Pivoev, 1993, 37) of the society’s consciousness
has been repeatedly described in scientific
literature, and one of the common points is
the observation that this trend is significantly
conditional to political, social and economic
changes in human life in the 20th century. In the
USSR, such an immersive myth has become the
mythology of socialism, in Hitler’s Germany – the
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: amaltea-20x@yandex.ru
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Aryan myth, etc. Scholars believe the main mythmaking impulse to be the feeling of “borderline”,
the crisis, which is typical for the turn of the
century (Kovtun, 2013). The human fear of the
unknown, the sense of an impending, but so far
unknown danger, according to Freud, is one of the
starting points for myth-making. With the help of
the myth people fence themselves out from the
unknowable, defining it within the frame of the
already known solutions. Thus, the irrational
development of the life content is done. A. Gulyga
wrote: “The present has always been seen as a
loss of something that was available in the past.
Only due to the fact that losses were considered
to be less significant in relation to gains, the idea
of progress survived. Today, the balance of losses
and gains threatens to turn into the deficit of
the latter: the mankind loses more than it gains.
Losses are so great that the idea of superiority
over the past loses its meaning – a desire to go
back appears, without losing, of course, positive
acquisitions of our time” (Gulyga, 2006, 18). At
the same time, if these “dictated” solutions are
not functional, ineffective, there is an opposite
reaction, “alienation” – despair that leads to
madness or even death (Kierkegaard, 1988).
In Russian literature of the first third of the
th
20 century, the feeling of the crisis era or even the
end of time, of course, is reflected in a variety of
forms. The art intelligentsia was actively creating
a new modernist myth where the human, like
joking, put on the pedestal not the God’s creation,
but the devil, and started to interact with it just as
surely as was once the adherent of Christ. In her
monograph, N.V. Kovtun said: “A modern artist
who creates a home-world, and realizes himself/
herself to be a demiurge of another, true reality,
and reduces the world of time to the level of an
illusion, a mirage” (Kovtun, 2013). Connection
with the classical mythology and late Antiquity
was doubtless here, since the image of Fatum
and the human feeling of himself as a toy in the
hands of gods became very popular among poets
and writers of the Silver Age, but there was also
something new that made the reader feel the
modernity of that fatalistic scenes – the signs of
another reality, language, a special refinement in
choosing the topic of works: “The situation when
the literature of the early 20th century adapted the
classics’ stable motifs labeled with an archetypal
charge determines a perspective of secondary
mythologization – “neomythologization” entering
into a dialogue with the mythological structures
lying at the foundation of the genre models of the
epics” (Kovtun, 2013).
Theoretical Basis and Methods
To ensure the correct understanding, let us
clarify the terminology, which will be used in
this article. In papers devoted to mythological
analysis, we may meet quite different definitions,
different scope of concepts related to the
mythological attitude. Some eclectics, ambiguity
of terms are, surely, one of the typical features
of the humanities’ fields creating a constant
ground for discussions. In this article, we select
as a reference unit the concept of a mythologem
as a minimized myth. In N.V. Kovtun’s work,
we meet the following definition of the term:
“A mythologem denotes conscious borrowing
of mythological motifs by an artist” (Kovtun,
2013). Of course, the term “mythologem” has a
characteristic relation to another, more general
term – motifem, which also illustrates the
paradigmatic level of the set of motifs, but in a
broader sense (Silant’ev, 2001).
In the article, we use several methods,
among which we shall primarily note the
motivic analysis, structural-descriptive and
comparative historical methods. The theoretical
basis of this article includes the research works
in the field of motif studies of I.V. Silant’ev,
V.I. Tiupa; mythological criticism of Eliade,
N.Y. Golosovker, E.M. Meletinsky; works of
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contemporary scholars about the features of the
myth presentation in Russian literature of the
20th century (V.V. Polonsky, T.L. Rybal’chenko,
N.V. Kovtun). The classics of literary criticism –
B.A. Uspensky, M.M. Bakhtin, Yu.M. Lotman,
and the monograph by V. Schmidt “Narratology”
played an important role in the understanding of
the artistic text. Due to the local specifics of the
theme, an appeal to the works of geographers,
archaeologists and historians of religion studying
real and illusory model of Russian North in
the minds and lives of people was also needed
(N.M. Terebikhin, S.V. Morozov). Given the large
scope of works on studying Leonov’s works, we
took into account those works that were dedicated
to the writer’s early works, as well as works
analyzing mythological component of the texts
(A.A. Dyrdin, T.M. Vakhitova, L.P. Yakimova,
V.A. Petisheva).
Statement of the Problem
Our article is dedicated to the study of the
mythological content in the work of the author,
who is the witness not only of the beginning of the
century, but, to be more exact, the contemporary of
the whole century, L.M. Leonov. His early stories
refer to the first third of the century (1920s), his
last novel “Pyramid” is dated by the mid 1990s.
It is obvious, that during his long creative path
the writer had experienced many-sided influence
of his contemporaries, had witnessed the falls
and rises of Russian social and political life, and
therefore, all his works together can be considered
as a mirror of the epoch to some extent.
Early works of L.M. Leonov
in the context of mythology
L. M. Leonov’s early works were
significantly influenced by modernists,
especially symbolism. It is where a vivid,
rich language, original themes, unusual
compositional solutions, interest to the
“borderline”, provocative questions come from.
In the story “The Death of Egorushka” the
master turns to the exotic topos, and moreover,
exotics here is connected not with the beloved
oriental motifs since the time of Romanticism
(we see turning to the oriental culture in
another work of the author, “Tuatamur”). The
Russian North, “shamaning Belomorye”, the
region which has been considered the land of
the magical and sacred since the ancient times
(Terebikhin, 1993, 41-42), becomes the setting
of the story.
The mythologem of the North as a unique,
transcendent place in Russia is being opened step
by step, comprised by several components. Here,
wild, undiscovered nature, which offers extreme
living conditions for an average man, becomes a
kind of a substrate of the mythological worldview.
It is well known that the Orthodox doctrine was
spreading in the northern part of Russia little by
little. The beginning of this process is connected
with the activities of the venerable Sergius of
Radonezh. As N.E. Kamenskaya writes, moving
to the North was a search for “a new sky and a
new land depicted in the apocalyptic prophecies
of John the Apostle”, a breakthrough “to what will
be on the other side of the history, when the earth
journey of the human will end” (Kamenskaya,
2004, 122-128). Therefore, the North, which was
not fully discovered at that time, seemed to be
a sacred place for the medieval man, and the
difficulty of the way there was compensated by
the revelation received after all.
Until the end of the 19th century Solovetsky
Monastery, the center of the Orthodox Church in
the North, was revered as the greatest Russian
sacred place, “the people have got a settled
opinion of the Monastery as an ideal sacred
community” (Kamenskaya, 2004, 122-128),
against the background of other Russian monastic
settlements, which were degrading, it was
prospering and increasing the area of influence.
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Belovodye itself became “a gradual embodiment
of the insular heaven in the Old Russian culture”
(Gornitskaya).
What has caused that tragic turn of the plot
in L.M. Leonov’s story, when the sacred land all
of a sudden becomes a possession of devilish
forces? In 1920, a concentration camp is created
on the Solovetsky Islands, on the place of the
Monastery, willed by the Soviet rule that had just
come to power: thus, the sacred land becomes the
place of torments. If earlier the pilgrims came
there on their own will, now they were sent there
sentenced under the Article; SLON (Solovki
special purpose forced labor camp”) was famous
all over Russia not as the sacred land, but as the
cruel penal servitude (Morozov, 1988; Morozov,
2004). Leonov with his delicate creative thinking
and feeling for topicality could not have ignored
this catastrophic transformation and embodied
it in a symbolic-allegoric form in his story “The
Death of Egorushka” published in 1922.
The narration begins in a form of a tale
reminding of the sacred ancient times. Turning
to the folk poetic stylization itself is very
symbolic – the first decades of the 20th century
are not coincidentally called the period of
“the stylization boom”. It influenced not only
modernists, but also the authors, who continued
the line of the classic literature, “passion of the
artists of different aesthetic directions for folklore
may be explained by the desire to recreate the
folk culture by language means” (Khatyamova,
2006, 68). Therefore, turning to the tale form of
narration is determined also by the development
of the social myth of “getting back to the roots”
among the literary community. As I. Smirin
notes, “the flowering of the tale narration in the
20-s was prepared by the previous development
of folk consciousness and folk speech in
literature” (Smirin). Scholars numerously noted
that L. Leonov’s early poetics was influenced by
famous tale narrators A. Remizov and A. Beliy –
the writer picked up exotic words, occasional
words along with the tale form from the famous
symbolists.
Sketches of nature illustrating the
beginning of the story are characterized by a fi ne
combination of features of different aesthetic
types of landscape: “The place is bare and
gloomy; it is thrown in the mercy of the wind,
it is fated to become the place for the extensive
earth despair. Sharp-toothed fi res of northern
lights blaze over the sky in winter nights over
Nyun’yurg. The fi re of the never setting sun
stays in the sea depth in summer nights behind
Nyun’yurg. And small berry cranberry has
spread over boggy Nyun’yurg places in all
eight differently named directions – the only
happiness of the bare place behind the midnight,
last borderline” (Leonov, 1981, 60). Lexical
repetitions of the island’s name and syntactical
parallelism of the phrases serve to focus the
attention of the potential reader on the setting. It
seems that the author concentrates our attention
on the center of all actions and then gradually
builds the limits of its mythological space not
letting go behind these limits.
On the one hand, in the description above one
can obviously note the elements of the national
landscape, for which “understanding of Russia as
a northern country with all poetic exaggerations”
is typical (Epstein, 1990, 156), “all features
speak for modesty, dullness and picturesqueness
touching with tenderness and melancholy,
compassion and bitterness”(Epstein, 1990, 158).
Against the dull-coloured background, Leonov
introduces the image of the dazzling northern
lights highlighting the local colouring – an element
of the exotic landscape. Thus, the situation of
cognition takes place: in the ordinary, common
all of a sudden appears something that gives it
a special, almost mystical sense: “Belovodye as
the main mythologem has formed a contextual
field of the plot-making technique born in the Old
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Russian poetics, of including the real island into
the surreal “other” world” (Gornitskaya).
Throughout the story, we repeatedly meet
with the transcendental content of nature images,
emphasizing the closeness of the human in these
places to something bordering, inscrutable by the
earthly reason. The toponym “Nyun’yug” itself
like outlandish cities of another writer of the
20th century, A.S. Grin, determines the response
in the reader’s imagination: an unusual name
catches the eye, but at the same time it does not
allow to search for geographical coordinates of
the island.
Functioning of the mythical space is
always connected with the image or images of
demiurges – in L.M. Leonov’s story among such
demiurges are called St. Nicholas, Savvaty and
Zosima. The author’s choice was not accidental.
In the documents of the 15th century Solovetsky
Monastery was called “the house of the Holy
Savior and St. Nicholas”. The Pomors have
written a lot about the cult of St. Nicholas, he
is considered to be the patron of navigation and
is even called the God of the Sea. In Leonov’s
story, St. Nicolas plays as a demiurge within
the classical cosmogonic myth: “And in those
days when loose damp earth was not more than
three days old, Nicolas came all of a sudden,
bypassing the ground with the patrol, on the
vague brink of the primordial sea and land and
left his footprint...” (Leonov, 1981, 60). It was
Nicolas’s footprint, where the first peasant hut on
the island was built, the hut of Egorushka’s father,
indicating that the father of the protagonist lived
in the mythical era, the era of “primary objects
and primary actions: first fire, first spear, first
house” (Meletinsky, 1976, 173). The motif of the
footprint appearing here is also quite curious. It
certainly can be interpreted literally, imagining
the demiurge as a giant, while a house is built in
his footprint. Nevertheless, for the folk tradition
different reading of this motif is typical: the soul
remains in the footprint, the one going after
becomes a spiritual disciple. M. Zhuikova quite
interestingly writes about this direction of the
motif interpretation, on the example of the bylina
“Dobrynia and Marinka”: “One of the central
motifs of its plot are magical acts of Marinka:
she carves Dobrynya’s footprints (prints of his
feet on the ground) and burns them in the oven”
(Zhuikova). But Nicolas is not just a man, he is a
saint, and therefore his footprint “is not a frozen
footprint. It is twinkling of the eternal present.
Twinkling of the internal motion in the outer
stillness; immortality among constant dying’
(Mirkin, 2007).
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Further, Leonov elaborates the metaphysical
component of the scene: “The days uncaptured
by the memory, then flashed like a wild horde,
all the hundred of hundreds and all the darkness
of darknesses sunk into the hollow hell”
(Leonov, 1981, 61). Some special transcendence
of Nyun’yug’s location on the border between
the light and darkness is highlighted, and the
very appearance of the island belongs to the
mythical time (“earth ... was not more than three
days old”). “The brink of the land and the sea”
is not only the geography with its landscapes,
but the mythology as well: “geographical space
at the same time is a religious and mythological
space” (Chistov, 1986, 43). The sea itself in the
minds of all Russian has been always identified
with the “dead zone” (B.A. Uspensky), and
“any movement in this locus of the religiousmythological space is equivalent to the real
experience of death, or rather, undergoing the
testing by the sea-death”.
Other patrons of the island are the saints
Savvaty and Zosima. Their names are inextricably
linked in the minds of the Russian people, forming
typical “duality”. L.M. Leonov gracefully weaves
the historical facts about the activities of the
saint, which have reached us, into the plot. It is
well known that Savvaty was the founder of the
Solovetsky Monastery. Originally he asceticised
at the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, then moved
to the island of Valaam, continuing to look for
a more secluded place. He got to know that two
days’ sail from the shores of the White Sea there
is a large uninhabited island, and Savvaty left the
Valaam Monastery to go there.
Leonov’s Nyun’yug embodying this
uninhabited island (there is nobody else except
for Egorushka’s family and some Samoyed)
gradually changes the pole of holiness to the pole
penetrated with demonic powers. The mystic
beginning is still active, but a runaway monk
Agapius addresses the great saints with a request
about the death of Egorushka’s son and the
request about “testing” with madness and death
is satisfied.
Several reasons for such a change of polarity
can be identified. Certainly, the dramatic changes
in the cultural and political life of the country could
not have affected the contemporary literature,
and making a concentration camp on the place
of the Monastery is a literal embodiment of the
mythologem’s ambivalence. The mythologem of
Belovodye (a group of islands in the White Sea)
was historically never unambiguous. Researcher
L.I. Gornitskaya notes: already in medieval texts
it is perceived “as not only a paradise, but an
infernal locus. Belovodye gets a more complicated
semantics, in which the infernal otherworld is
significant not less than the heavenly one, and
the locus combines the features of both Heaven
and Hell” (Gornitskaya). Polysemanticity of the
topos is described in detail in N.M. Terebikhin’s
monograph: “The road to the North is the ascent
to the center of the world, to the top of the World
Mountain, surrounded by the waters of the seaocean, from which not only shining luminous
Promised Land of Heaven is viewed, but the
gaping abyss and the abyss of the total darkness”
(Terebikhin, 2004, 3). Holy and demonic North,
by the antithetical definition of A.G. Dugin, is also
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“teleological and eschatological” (Terebikhin,
2004, 4).
The author describes the image of
Egorushka itself in the likeness of saints; the
phrase “the sorrow of his life” is symbolic
(Leonov, 1981, 55). Egorushka is distinguished
by “the warmest look”, his head seems to be
“shining with the light linen of hair” and ‘quiet
unwindy sky lives in Egor” (inner sense of
God): “Leonov’s Egorushka is described as a
light deity, pouring rays of heavenly light in
the dark world” (Shubin, 2006). In his work
Shubin provides an interesting comparison of
Egorushka’s image with George the Victorious,
who fought the serpent, that is, the former monk
Agapius. We believe this view to be perfectly
justified and explaining a lot.
The oncoming birth of the son of the main
character is also described reverently, similar to
the Gospel scene of the notification of the Virgin
Mary about the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son
of God: “The mother’s joy will light up the sky
first, and second – the joy of the one who saw
the world for the first time” (Leonov, 1981, 64).
Unlike the household and landscape descriptions
of the island, where the writer uses a variety of
dialecticisms, occasionalicisms in the spirit of
the dialect of the White Sea coast dwellers, the
portraits of Egor and Varlam are described in
solely solemn tones. Therefore, the common for
everybody sacred story develops strictly within
the framework of the local colouring. It is created,
first, by means of the words specific for the Russian
North: malitsa (deerskin overcoat), oshkuy (white
bear), horyava-wind, pikshuy (haddock), Izhems,
shnyak (fishing boat). Second, well-known words
are used describing the phenomena typical for the
North: sledges, karbass boat, Northern Lights.
Conclusion
Therefore, the analysis of the functioning
mythologem of the Russian North in
L.M. Leonov’s story “The Death of Egorushka”,
written in 1920, showed the following features
of its implementation in the author’s text. The
ambivalent interpretation of the mythologem,
which has existed for a long time, in
Leonov’s work is emphasized with particular
expressiveness due to not only the history of
semantic layers, but also the political events at the
time of the work creation. It is no accident that a
wild northern region, which seemed inaccessible
for Travelers gained the mystique halo – people
crossed the sea like overcoming death, they
went searching for God and, accordingly, the
one who had overcome the dead zone, became
lifeless himself. But Leonov’s times the infernal
status of Belovodye was triggered by a topical
solution of the Soviet government about building
a concentration camp on the island; thus, the
place of meeting the transcendent completely
changed its polarity.
In Leonov’s story we see an attempt to struggle
for former holiness. Righteous Egorushka with his
wife Irinya turns to his patron, Saint Nicolas, but
their prayer is not answered, that gives the text a
special dramatic intensity, similar to what occurs
in another outstanding work of the era, the play
“The Life of a Man” by L. Andreev. The death of
the child – Varlam Egorych – indicates the end of
everything. Although Irinya in a drunken stupor
of the funeral and whispers to her husband that
another child will be born – but Egorushka is not
the same anymore, he has fallen into madness,
he is completely indifferent to what will happen
next, and this is the eschatologism. Egorushka is
dying inside, spiritually, there will not be another
end.
Mythical time and space, animalicity of
the main characters’ perception, fatality of
happening determine the mythologem, which
has undoubtedly retained its status, though its
is newly read, inscribed in the modern drama of
reality.
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Мифологема Севера
в раннем творчестве Л.М. Леонова
(на примере рассказа «Гибель Егорушки»)
А.О. Задорина
Сибирский федеральный университет
Россия, 660041, Красноярск, пр. Свободный, 79
В статье рассмотрено художественное воплощение мифологемы Севера в литературе
начала ХХ века. Общий интерес художников и мыслителей к явлению мифа, осознание его
проникновенной энергии, а также потребность в мифе как в духовной опоре – характерные
черты процесса неомифологизации. Обращение писателей к мифологеме Севера обусловлено
не только желанием найти новую, непривычную тему для повествования, но и характерной ее
неоднородностью, амбивалентностью, где между святостью и демоничностью тонкая грань.
В произведении Л.М. Леонова эта противоречивость сохраняется и даже усиливается, место
веры становится местом вселенского отчаяния. Творческий замысел художника объясним не
только кризисными настроениями начала века, но и социально-политическими реформами
новой власти. В мифологеме сохраняются неизменные составляющие: мифологическое
пространство, мифическое время, образ демиурга, герой, мотивы испытания и инициации.
Новым решением оказывается эсхатологический мотив, который автор представляет
латентно на фоне продолжающейся жизни.
Ключевые слова: Русский Север, мифологема, Беловодье, амбивалентность, святость,
национальный пейзаж.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 790-797
~~~
УДК 82’06
The Poetics of the Interpretative Ecphrasis
in Valentin Rasputin’s Story “Izba”
Vasilina А. Stepanova*
Siberian Federal University
79 Svobodny, Krasnoyarsk, 660041, Russia
Received 06.02.2014, received in revised form 28.03.2014, accepted 18.04.2014
The article discusses the peculiarities of the interpretative ecphrasis in V. Rasputin’s story “Izba1”.
The particular interest of contemporary literature studies to the problem of the intermedial poetics is
associated with the replacement of the cultural paradigm: moving from literocentrism to art-centrism.
The poetics of the interpretative ecphrasis allows us to consider the text in a metatextual way.
In the story, many plot-forming constructs typical for the traditional prose are generally transformed:
coming out to war, continuing the traditions, getting ready to die or inter oneself, destructing
and reconstructing cosmogonia. The space of the izba in the story is described as “other place”
(heterotopia). The surrounding world in the exegesis is chaotic and, moreover, eschatological.
The analysis of the ecphrasis allows us to understand and determine all these meaningful constructs.
Thus, the izba remains to be heterotopia based on its own axis mundi, and consequently able to stand
against the chaos of the “worn-out” world.
Agafya’s izba itself, which has become a spiritual shelter in heterotopia, is a tree of life, some place
for the righteous and sinful people to meet. Such transformations show the loss of previous utopian
ideals and the attempt to find alternatives to being inside the space of chaos, which in turn is a sign of
moving from traditionalism.
Keywords: V. Rasputin, story “Izba”, interpretative ecphrasis, heterotopia.
This paper has been provided under the research project No.14-14-24003 of the Russian Fund for the
Humanities.
Introduction
into the research problem
The interest of the contemporary literary
studies to the intermedial poetics of the
contemporary prose is associated with the next
change of the cultural paradigm, moving from
literature-centrism to art-centrism, expansion of
the boundaries of art, which leads to the genre
synthesis as an expression of artistic freedom of
the author at philological level (see Mitchell, 1994,
*
146). It is important to follow the peculiarities of
these trends’ reflection in the art of the artisttraditionalist. In Rasputin’s story “Izba” notable
for the literature of the end of the century (1999),
the basic motifs and images inherent both for
the creativity of the author and the traditionalist
prose in general are significantly redefined. The
poetics of the ecphrasis allows not only to see the
transformations at the level of exegesis, but to
reveal the symbolic, even archetypal strata.
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: burivouh@mail.ru
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Vasilina А. Stepanova. The Poetics of the Interpretative Ecphrasis in Valentin Rasputin’s Story “Izba”
Theoretical basis
In this analysis, we rely on the interpretive
type of ecphrasis, i.e. “interpretation aimed at
identifying the deep figurative and symbolic
content of the work” (Yatsenko, 2011, 48).
Undoubtedly, in the interpretive ecphrasis
there may be elements of visual description,
but they do not design the text. The problem of
separating the narration and the description is
connected with the theory of narratology. G.
Genette notes that the description, as a kind of
literary depiction, cannot be clearly distinguished
from the narration, therefore, there is “no need
for separation of the descriptive-narrative unity
(with the narrative dominant), which Plato and
Aristotle called the narration” (Genette, 1998,
292). Vladimir Milovidov also believes that
“the initial pulse that creates the text will be
<...> the narrative intention” (Milovidov, 2001).
The following boundaries specify the term
“ecphrasis”: the boundary of the text (ecphrasis,
in a way, is implemented in exegesis, and not in
the phenomenal space), the boundary of the sphere
(we are only talking about the literary ecphrasis),
the boundary of the “kind” (the interpretive kind
of ecphrasis will be analyzed), the boundary of
the “event” (not each description can be subjected
to the ecphrastic analysis).
Problem statement
In this research work, we will mainly focus
on the problem of the ecphrasis’ implementation
in V. Rasputin’s novel “Izba”, which is essential
for the late prose.
The ecphrastic intention
as a philological transformation
of visual images
The writer traditionally imposes the main
storyline of the text in the title – indeed, the izba
is a plot-forming element of the story. The house is
a model of the universe, an analogue of the space.
The narration begins with the description: “Izba
was small, old, blackened, with cracks along thin
pine logs < ... > standing at the intersection of a
large street and an alley’”(Rasputin, 2007, 356).
For the “village inhabitants” topos is one of the
fundamental constructs of the text (the island in
the “Farewell to Matyora”, the river in the story
“Live and Remember”, the space of the field in
Solzhenitsyn’s story “Zakhar-Kalita”) (Anisimov,
2012, 396-419). It is no coincidence the izba is
located at the crossroads: according to the beliefs
of the Slavs, here the boundary between the worlds
of the living and the dead is located. Herewith, the
motif of otherness, heterotopia as “another place”
is introduced ecphrastically (Foucault, 2006,
191-204). It is noteworthy that the alley leads to
water. Water is a symbol of cosmogony, and it is
one more boundary, recurring as a leitmotif in
Rasputin’s works. The semantics of separation
is increased with the references to a dug ditch,
a fence.
The izba is built of pine logs. Pine is a
sacred tree mentioned in other works of the
writer: Nastyona saws pine in the story “Live and
Remember”; Lusya in the story “The Last Term”
goes to the pine forest, where she discovers the
possibility of repentance; Pashuta buries his
mother among pines and in the pine coffin in the
story “In the Same Ground”. In many cultures,
pine personifies the “tree of life”. In addition, it
is a symbol of immortality (no wonder it is often
used for landscaping cemeteries). Thus, the izba,
and the space around it, at the very beginning of
the story is placed in the heterotopia: “old women
had a seat on a low and wide chock buried in the
ground and immediately found themselves in
another world” (Rasputin, 2007, 357). The yard
space is “transitional”: here the living people
can come, but only old women: children “did not
crowd in Agafya’s yard” (Rasputin, 2007, 357).
To enter the yard means to visit Agafya: “All the
rest of the village dead people should be visited
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at the cemetery < ... > and only the old woman
Agafya was visited at the same place as when
she was alive” (Rasputin , 2007, 357). Here once
again, in the context, the connection of the izba
with the world of the dead is emphasized.
The izba is not only a kind of a boundary,
it crosses the boundary in the space of exegesis.
Krivolutskaya village, where Agafya’s house was
originally located, was subject to flooding, houses
were moved to the other bank. Krivolutskaya,
despite its name, is presented as a protected
place: “in a small village on the right bank, the
sand is clean and tidy” (Rasputin, 2007, 357). The
writer emphasizes the opposition of the right and
the left banks in the story “Live and Remember”:
the river does not just divide the space, it brings
out the traditional national oppositions: friend or
foe, left or right, good or evil.
The village is described as a utopian space
in a way. The past attracts writers-“villagers”
while life then was evolving cyclically and
was harmonized, proportionate to the human
(it is significant as a valuable reference for
the traditionalist literary criticism, which
is ideologically close to the village prose”
(Govorukhina, 2012; Parthé, 1992, 156). Living in
Krivolutskaya, on the right bank, is inextricably
linked with memories: the space is filled with
fairy tales, songs, living light (candles, splinter),
the land is fertile, “golden play of barley with
potbelly tight heads” (Rasputin, 2007, 361). The
village is inscribed in the traditional paradigm of
the writer “Rus-Belovodye” (Kovtun, 2009, 366).
The story also is in line with the story
“Farewell to Matyora”. Krivolutskaya village is
subject to flooding, it is not just one village that
is moving, but the whole district. The tragedy
of flooding itself is put in a presupposition,
nevertheless the chaos of moving is lexically
expressed in the text: “all villages < ... >
were dumped into one heap before flooding”
(Rasputin, 2007, 359). The street where Agafya
places her house is called “Sbrodnaya”2. The
situation of changing the place of living, moving
to another space is marked by chaos, illness, the
motifs are introduced ecphrastically. Illness and
moving become contextual synonyms: “Agafya
was identified as being ill. And all summer,
she struggled against the hospital walls in the
district like a fly against the glass” (Rasputin,
2007, 360). In the story, there is a transformation
of the traditional opposition of the city and the
village, when the center of the district appears
as a “transitional” point where the sacred is not
yet lost, but the house, fate has been already
abandoned. In “Izba”, the district center is indued
with a negative connotation, it actually gets
negative aspects of the city.
The image of Agafya, at first glance, is written
with a focus on the spirit, in full compliance with
the images of the famous “Rasputin’s old women”:
“She was tall, withy, with a narrow face and large
inquisitive eyes. She wore dark clothes < ... >
learned to walk quickly, almost run” (Rasputin,
2007, 358). Austerity, a narrow face, large eyes,
dark clothing are emphasized referring to the
canonical icon images. However, Agafya’s haste
is marked by belonging to the earthly world.
Thus, there is a dichotomy in the description of
Agafya already: both spiritual and worldly, vain
beginnings are emphasized.
Masculine traits are also essential in the
image, moreover, there is a conscious rejection
of the female traits: “She started to care not
a snap about a woman inside herself too soon”
(Rasputin, 2007, 358), “she was able to do any
man's work” (Rasputin, 2007, 359). In exegesis,
Agafya’s loneliness is explained: her husband
“was taken for the army service, where he died
long before the war, perhaps, it was a brave death,
but stupid” (Rasputin, 2007, 358). War is one of
the leitmotifs of the traditionalist prose. Going
beyond the boundaries of its space in Rasputin’s
classical texts is tragic, entails the destruction
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of cosmogony, death. But going to war is
directly related with the messianic function of
care, respectively, the world remains holistic
(“Usvyatskie shlemonostsy” by B. Ekimov,
“Komissiya” by S. Zalygin).
In the story, Agafya’s husband disappears
“long before the war”, he “was taken” for the
army service. However, regardless the traditional
model, the cosmogony is not destroyed, Agafya
becomes a guardian and assumes the male
function. When a man goes away from the sacred
topos, it leads to the destruction of the space, but
in case with a woman, it is dangerous for herself:
Agafya’s daughter Olga “has come under relentless
millstones of the urban mill” (Rasputin, 2007,
358). Adult children in the works of “villagers”
are often antagonists of the protagonists: children
of Anna in the story “Last Term” are alienated
from the family, are taken out of the village space,
cannot understand and accept death; in “Farewell
to Matyora” Pavel is a median protagonistwanderer; tricksters, rogues and firebugs appear
among the “adult children” who have lost their
connection with the past. Before the story “Izba”,
the story “Ivan’s Daughter, Ivan’s Mother”, the
rejection of fate leads to chaos, inability to accept
death, and therefore impossibility of resurrection
for the protagonist who has chosen such a path (in
Rasputin’s works, the right to prepare for death
is given only to righteous men, and the rest are
doomed).
It was in the hospital when Agafya had “a
dream that has hit her for the rest of her life:
that she is buried in her own izba” (Rasputin,
2007, 360). In art works, the intersection of
phenomenal and noumenal often generates a
special chronotope. It is this chronotope E. Farino
refers the oneiric space – “the field of dreaming,
dreams and mirages” – to. (Farino, 2004, 376). In
Rasputin’s works, a dream appears as a special
metaworld, space of otherness, the boundaries of
which are defined by the spiritual status of the
visionary. Oneiric sphere is characterized not
only by specific, “imaginary” space, but also by
the “reversed” time, double causality (Anisimov,
2012, 169). It is no coincidence that Agafya sees
her death in her own dream, thereby surpassing
the reality.
In the story “Izba”, death appears in the
oneiric sphere not as a transition, which is typical
for the early works of the master, but as a burial,
burying in the ground. It is noteworthy that a
similar burial rite – in the izba – can be met among
Tofalars. The creative path of the writer has begun
with the sketches about them: “In the summer a
grave about 1.5 m deep was dug. A small shell
of two to three wreaths (kolgo) was put inside.
In winter, the deceased was laid directly on the
ground. A small log box of planks with a cover
was made around, or a log construction was put
on two or four pillars” (Funeral Ritualism, 2005,
2010). Of course, this parallel is not quite accurate,
but such a funeral is clearly marked with pagan
beliefs. The location of the izba in the oneiric
space – under the ground, but on the surface, “the
pipe should be under the sky” – duplicates the
model of the Universe. Smoke coming out of the
chimney can mean an ascending soul, the world
axis (axis mundi). In her dream, Agafya thinks:
“Over there one would also like to get warm”,
i.e. the existence in the other world has physical
properties that correlate with pagan beliefs.
In fact, Agafya’s izba exists in three
dimensions: in a new village, in Krivolutskaya
village and in the oneiric sphere. The contact of
Agafya with the house is introduced by means of
ecphrasis and is repeatedly emphasized in the text.
Moving the izba to a new space – a new village –
is associated with a dream coming true: “In rough
tractor sleigh exactly like in the one she saw in her
dream, < ... > she drove the disassembled izba to
the new settlement” (Rasputin, 2007, 360). Busting
of the old home, moving introduce eschatological
motifs. It is noteworthy that the old house is
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being “ruined”, i.e. disassembled and moved,
leaving the most significant part – the stove. If in
the story “Farewell to Matyora” old women try
to preserve and safeguard the protected space,
in this story there are no such attempts, as well
as in the presupposition. Protective functions, at
first sight, are lost; Agafya is building her house
from scratch, after death she herself becomes a
domovoy: “It’s ok, I will be a domovoy myself”
(Rasputin, 2007, 385). The space of the new
settlement is emphasized chaotically. “To move
the whole village is like get burnt without fire”
(Rasputin, 2007, 367) – the element of the fire is
repeatedly found in the novels and short stories
of the writer. Fire is usually associated with an
arson, hence madness.
Moving to another place, moving of the izba
happens in another text of the “village prose” –
in Solzhenitsyn’s story “Matryona’s Place” (as
a prototext). The yard space is described with
idyllic elements (which took place in the past);
the attempt to move the ben leads to the death of
the mistress. It is noteworthy that death occurs
during moving, which is a boundary topos.
Therefore, for traditionalists the relationship
between a man and a home is undeniable, moving
of the house to another place entails death,
complete destruction of cosmogony (similar to
the “House” by Fyodor Abramov). However, in
the story “Izba” main motifs of the direction are
significantly transformed. The construction of an
izba itself is associated with the birth of a new life,
a new space: “it was conceived, our darling, now
we have to bear and give birth to it” (Rasputin,
2007, 373). The foundation of the house is made
of “larch logs”. It is the analogy with the royal
larch on the island of Matyora. In addition to the
analogy with the Tree of Life, larch is also the
analogue of the cross: a beheaded tree presents a
broken vertical.
In the pagan discourse, the creation of
the world always involves sacrifice: “countless
forms of sacrifices < ... > imitation < ... > of the
first sacrifice, which gave birth to the world”
(Eliade, 1994). Agafya’s work is dualistic:
it is both sacrifice and initiation. N. Kovtun
notes: “Feverish, heavy work of Agafya on the
construction of the house is bordered on suicide,
but it is death that promises enlightenment. < ...
> The way back of the heroine does not lead to
the hearth, on the contrary, it marks overcoming
of the empirical, the izba is built from the inside,
by the will of the soul and therefore is timeless”
(Kovtun, 2013, 23). Self-sacrifice is similar to the
act of Christ, nevertheless, the messianic function
in the text is lost, sacrifice makes it possible to
create a new space.
It would be wrong to interpret Agafya’s image
through the prism of the Christian worldview. The
heroine, like Pashuta in the story “In the Same
Ground ...” acts in spite of the traditions and rites,
both family and religious. In his later works, the
author tries to create a new system of beliefs.
Agafya compares herself with a mermaid: “I am
like this ... drowned mermaid, I am wandering
here and still calling for someone ...” (Rasputin,
2007, 392) – the allusive connection between
the mermaid and the flooded village / island is
certain. Agafya’s self-identity with a mermaid
and a domovoy is connected with the loss of
the Christian baselines. In fact, the old woman
associates herself with pagan, folkloric beings
labeled as the undead. Similar identification
is found in B. Ekimov’s story “Kholyusha’s
Farmstead”. The protagonist also reminds a
domovoy. Moreover, the “basis of the ‘internal
plot’ is a myth about the original creation” (Kovtun
, 2013, 412). B. Ekimov’s text though is correlated
with the eschatological discourse: after the death
of Kholyusha the household is ruined, but in
general there is a possibility to save cosmogony
at least during the life of the custodian. In “Izba”,
the apotropic functions are strengthened by
Agafya’s death. If during her life she was not able
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to protect the house in Krivolutskaya, after her
death, the newly built izba is endowed with selfstanding against the chaos of the world.
It is noteworthy to consider the
transformation of the motif of death in this
paradigm. Agafya sees a prophetic dream about
death typical for V. Rasputin’s prose. However,
the dream itself is absolutely peculiar: she sees
the dead, but not the ancestors; there is no
conductor as the old woman Anna sees in the
story “Last Term”. And the old woman herself
resists death: “Have you laid down, Agafya? –
No, still sitting” (Rasputin, 2007, 393). Old
women, who have been living too long, occur
in many works of the author. In the story, the
heroine explains her long life with the fact that
she “is out of a rusty human kind, there is no
demand for her there”, thereby placing herself in
the other place. In the mature works by Rasputin
two basic models of death are implemented –
Ascension (dying saint) and Resurrection
(repentance opens the possibility of the Exodus).
In the story, another model appears: death as
a transition into a metaphysical space that is
somewhere close to the present. This motif is
brilliantly embodied in the text “Vision”.
The izba notifies the village about the
death of the mistress. Agafya dies on the Pokrov
(Holy Protection) day, which can be considered
a metaphor – protection-shroud-snow. The cross
over the grave is made from larch, which once
again introduces the semantics of otherness.
Larch, which partly symbolizes the cross,
appears in the “Farewell to Matyora”, in “Izba”
occurs over the grave of Agafya, ecphrastically
combining Christian and pagan discourses. In
fact, the Tree of Life and the Cross appear to
be fused together. Nevertheless, based on the
semantic story lines, the symbols axis mundi are
the most significant ones.
After Agafya’s death the izba got
“orphaned” and as if repeated the fate of its
mistress. Alienation, different fate of the house in
comparison with the village life are emphasized
throughout the story. The izba is inscribed not
only in the chronotop of the exegesis, but mainly
in the eonotopos (from Greek ‘aion’ – eternity,
century and ‘topos’ – place, locality, region,
country, space) (Lepakhin, 2007, 149). The
existence of the izba’s own time is indicated by
the mismatch in the spring coming: in the village,
spring comes according to the calendar, and in
Agafya’s yard – after opening the windowseyes. The return to life is associated with the
symbolic return of the mistress. The smell in
the izba is “ancient, as if not human” (Rasputin,
2007, 395); the izba repairs itself, extinguishes
the fi re that starts in it (the symbolism of fi re was
mentioned above), and unwelcome tenants found
after the fi re “laid outstretched, as if someone
had dragged them” (Rasputin, 2007, 397). In the
description of Agafya’s izba the presence of the
mistress as the domovoy is emphasized: “izba is
tidy, it is being looked after” (Rasputin, 2007,
398).
At the end of the story, the spatial point of
view of the author has changed: throughout the
text he was looking inside the izba from the
outside, and in conclusion, the narrator describes
the world from the inside of the other space.
Conclusion
Therefore, the izba remains to be heterotopia
based on its own axis mundi, and consequently
it is able to stand in the midst of the chaos of the
“worn-out” world. The house of the heroine has
become a kind of a tree of life itself, a spiritual
shelter in heterotopia, a kind of a place for the
righteous and sinful people, friends and foes to
meet. The analysis of the interpretative ecphrasis
allows to speak about a gradual denial of the
Orthodox discourse by the author- the cross
remains only a sign and loses its symbolic meaning.
Actually, axis mundi is replaced in the text. Such
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transformations show the loss of previous utopian
ideals and the attempt to find alternatives to being
1
2
inside the space of chaos, which in turn is a sign
of moving from traditionalism.
Translator’s note: An izba (Russian: изба́, IPA: [TzTba]) is a traditional Russian countryside dwelling (peasant’s hut).
Often a log house, it forms the living quarters of a conventional Russian farmstead.
Translator’s note: Sbrodnaya is a derivative from “sbrod”: ragtag., rabble.
References
1. Anisimov, K.V. (2012) Topografiya natsional’nogo: mesto “sibirskoy” publitsistiki V.G.
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tvorchestvo V.Rasputina [Topography of the National: Place of “Siberian” Journalism of V.G. Rasputin
in the History of Art and Political Conceptualizations of Transurals // Time and Works of V. Rasputin]
Collection of Articles / Edited by I.I. Plekhanova. Irkutsk: Publishing House of Irkutsk State University.
pp. 396-419.
2. Anisimova, E.E. (2012) Traditsii V.A. Zhukovskogo v motivnoy poetike I.A. Bunina: ot
liriki k publitsistike [Traditions of V.A. Zhukovsky in the Motivic Poetics of I.A. Bunin: from
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3. Braginskaya, N. V. (1977). Ekfrasis kak tip teksta (k probleme strukturnoy klassifikatsii).
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monografiia [Russian Literary Criticism at the Turn of the 20th-21st centuries: Monograph]. Krasnoyarsk:
Siberian Federal University, 359 p.
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A.Solzhenitsyna i “Izbe” V.Rasputina. [Iconic Christian Tradition in A. Solzhenitsyn’s “Matryona’s
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(accessed on December 13, 2013)
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Поэтика толковательного экфрасиса
в рассказе В. Распутина “Изба”
В.А. Степанова
Сибирский федеральный университет
Россия, 660041, Красноярск, пр. Свободный, 79
Статья посвящена анализу особенностей реализации толковательного экфрасиса в рассказе
В. Распутина “ Изба “. Особый интерес современного литературоведения к интермедиальной
поэтике современной прозы связан с очередной сменой культурной парадигмы, отходом
от литературоцентризма в сторону “искусствоцентризма”. Поэтика толковательного
экфрасиса позволяет рассматривать текст на метатекстуальном уровне.
В рассказе трансформированы многие сюжетообразующие конструкты, свойственные
традиционалистской прозе в целом: уход на войну, продолжение или прерывание традиций,
подготовка к смерти и погребению, разрушение и воссоздание космогонии. Пространство
избы в рассказе описано как “другое место” (гетеротопия). Мир окрест в экзегезисе явлен как
хаотичный и, более того, эсхатологический.
Анализ экфрасиса позволяет выявить смыслообразующие конструкты. Таким образом,
изба остается инопространством, основанным на своей собственной axis mundi, и поэтому
способным выстоять посреди хаоса “износившегося” мира. Своеобразным древом жизни
становится сам дом Агафьи, ставший духовным пристанищем в инобытии, некой точкой
встречи для праведных и грешных, своих и чужих. Подобные трансформации свидетельствуют
об утрате прежних, утопических, идеалов и о попытке поиска альтернативы бытия внутри
пространства хаоса, что, в свою очередь, является признаком отхода от традиционализма.
Ключевые слова: В. Распутин, рассказ “Изба”, толковательный экфрасис, гетеротопия.
Публикация подготовлена в рамках поддержанного РГНФ научного проекта №14-14-24003.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 798-806
~~~
УДК 82.01-31’06
Myths About the Death of Novel
and the Absence of Integrality
in “The Novel” by V. Sorokin
Evgeniya N. Rogova*
Kemerovo State University,
6, Krasnaya Str., Kemerovo, 650043, Russia
Received 22.01.2014, received in revised form 15.03.2014, accepted 09.04.2014
“The Novel” by V. Sorokin illustrates the possible application of the category of aesthetic integrality
to postmodern novel. Stylistic eclectics does not impede the organization of the text in “The Novel”,
development of the author’s strategy which is displayed in the name of the work (“Роман” - roman –
stands for “the novel” in Russian), selection of material for stylization (classical Russian novel of the
19th century), gradual transition of prosaic rhythm to poetic rhythm. The game actualized by the author
of “The Novel” on the level of formal text organization creates the symbolic level of content, based
on mythological structures that demonstrate ineradicability of the literary phenomena. The specific
feature of aesthetic integrality in “the Novel” by V.Sorokin is the contradictory trends present in it,
providing incohesiveness and utmost consolidation at the same time. The conclusion of the article is
the following: notions of aesthetic integrality and novel can be applied to a postmodern work of art
not only as an element of parody, but also to reflect the real dynamic processes in literature that are
typical of the contemporary novel.
Keywords: postmodern novel, stylization, aesthetic integrality, V. Sorokin.
Assessments and judgements of literary
criticism are the reflections of hopes and
expectations of a certain epoch, as B.M.
Bernstein writes: “Judgements on the history of
art cannot be either totally objective or essential,
as interpretations and assessments are not so
much knowledge as ideological desiderata,
wishes and ideals desired to come true” (Farino,
2004, 54). Manifests of literary movements
with their “revolutionary” pathos reflect more
demand for new forms and artistic techniques,
than any actual new processes or phenomena:
romanticism, modernism, postmodernism that
*
manifest denial of all traditions, draw more from
the previous epochs than they actually deny. The
ultimate representations of avant-garde trends
border with neo-traditionalism, as it is impossible
to reject something without actualizing, therefore,
confirming it. Let us turn to the postmodern
manifestation of freedom in the structure of a
modern fiction book, which is revealed in the
mosaic character of the text integrality.
Category of integrality, conceived by
Aristotle as a proportion of parts: “a whole is an
entity which has a beginning, a middle and an
end” (Aristotle, 1984, 653), is adopted by modern
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: leonid@kemsu.ru
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literary criticism and modernized by adherents
of structural and semiotic approach (Yesaulov,
1991, 14), thereby reflecting in the central idea of
book structure. On the basis of poststructuralist
criticism
of
structure,
postmodernism
demonstrates a series of peculiarities that become
a constant within its culture: eclecticism, absence
of structure, vagueness of integrality: “As a matter
of fact, on the composition level the postmodern
“world outlook” declared itself in the aspiration
to reproduce the chaos of life with artificially
organized chaos of a principally fragmentary
narration” (Ilyin, 2004, 329). To characterize
the non-differentiated postmodernist integrality,
Gilles Deleuze and Pierre-Félix Guattari used the
term “rhizome” which stands for “non-structural
and non-linear character of integrality, providing
an opportunity for its immanent primary mobility
and actualization of its inner potential of creative
self-figuration” (Shatin, 2008, 255).
The traits of a literary work that support
the text integrality, binding it into one whole,
are present in postmodern texts as well, but
discussion of this matter seems not as topical as
contemplation on the novelty of an ultimately
free text. It is logical that, analysing a research by
Fokkema, who concentrated on barely negative,
disorganizing practice of postmodernism,
dissembling all traditional bonds, I.P. Ilyin asked
the following question: “What is the binding centre
of such fragmented narration, what turns such
scattered and heterogeneous material that fills the
contents of a typical postmodernist novel into the
entity which, notwithstanding all the provision,
still forces the reader to understand it as an
integrated whole?” (Ilyin, 1998, 164). Conclusions
on the absence of wholeness, destruction of genre
discourse in postmodernism prove, in point of
fact, to be nothing but myths. In the year 1964,
in his lectures on structuralist poetics, Yu.M.
Lotman spoke of “holding phenomena” in
literature: “…creativity is impossible without
regulations of structural relations. It would
contradict both the character of a work of art as a
model and its character as of a sign… When this
or that author, or this or that trend in the struggle
against ‘literariness’ turns to essays or reports…,
inserting original, clearly non-literary documents
into the text… he destructs the common system,
but not the principle of consistency” (Lotman,
1994, 226). For the scholar it is clear, that
rejection of a finite set of structural elements acts
is, in fact, a way of expansion for the given set
of elements (Lotman, 1994, 234). In his works of
early seventies of the 20th century R. Bart claims,
that literature and language are ineradicable as
deterrent phenomena, as overcoming leads to
simultaneous confirmation; therefore, one can
only speak of playing victory over literature,
playing destruction and revelation of an
“eccentric and unthinkable”, a devious method
of unravelling any positive (Bart, 1994, 507).
For example, Umberto Eco speaks of openness
of modern literature which, in his opinion,
instead of leading it to the extinction of the form,
brings it to a clearer understanding, perception
of literature as a “field of opportunities” (Eco,
2004, 206). M.M. Girshman suggests, that there
are some complementary opposite tendencies,
typical for a work of literature, that bring the
material together and, at the same time, obstruct
its integrality: “… integrality opposes both
absolutisation as unification and plurality: in the
light of artistic integrality, any external borders
of aesthetic diversity, which may have been set in
the piece before, are negotiated, at the same time
establishing its inner limit” (Girshman, 2008,
196). This judgment can be equally applied to the
postmodern novel.
Let us make an attempt to reveal integrality
peculiarities of the postmodern work of literature
“The Novel” by V. Sorokin in order to justify the
acceptability of assessing the text as eclectic and
illustrating the death of the novel genre in modern
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literature and the phenomenon of aesthetic
integrality.
Works by V. Sorokin are usually reckoned
among the second and third waves of Russian
postmodernism (Srokopanova, 2007, 3-4).
In criticism of the writer the key words are
“revelation”, “death”, “denial of life-likeness”:
“Sorokin reveals false significates, demonstrating
metaphysical emptiness left in the place of the
remaining sign… it looks impossible to survive
in it” (Genis, 1994, 119). Such judgment is
connected with the wide-spread opinion of
postmodernism as of a phenomenon associated
only with negative semantics: “general feeling of
disappointment and nihilism that is specific for
the era of postmodernism” (Kovtun, 2012, 1343).
Let us study the main critical judgments of
Sorokin’s writing style described in “Russian
Postmodernist Literature” by I.S. Skoropanova.
V. Kuritsyn remarks a special attitude to any
ontology of V.Sorokin, which is beyond any kind
of reality: “Texts by Sorokin are interesting…
for the fact that they present the phenomenon
of literariness as it is. They are dedicated to
opportunities of utterance. It is an attempt of
writing beyond the general idea of how writing
should function in the society. Extraction of
discourseness as such means extraction of the
continuousness and totality that underlies any
act of speaking. Postmodernist does not get over
this totality, but brings the total ontology to the
surface and tries to insert a new reflective layer
into it… Reading Sorokin, one can feel the Body
of the Text” (Skoropanova, 2007, 267). The
metaphor of “the Body of the Text”, once used
by V. Kuritsyn, underlines the integrality of
the author’s orientation that reveals itself in the
organized whole of the text.
I.S. Skoropanova develops the quotation
from V. Kuritsyn, also making another remark on
the novel “Norma” by V. Sorokin: “… Sorokin
turns to the code of ‘text in text’… Thereby
Sorokin prepares his readers for the perception
of everything they read as a literary text, lets
them understand that he is mostly interested in
the aesthetic aspect” (Skoropanova, 2007, 257).
I. Smirnov also emphasizes: “Sorokin’s ideal is
pure semiotics not contaminated with semantics”
(Skoropanova, 2007, 281). Determining the
sphere of V. Sokorin’s interests, I.S. Skoropanova
demonstrates the opportunity of integrative
perception of his works and the presence of an
integrating strategy the author applies towards
the text structure and the readers.
D. Prigov speaks of V.Sorokin’s position as
of the only possible humanistic position in the
modern culture, which is the position of freedom
connected with the “…position of an observer”,
“realization and observation of membrane and
chaos as co-existing phenomena” (Skoropanova,
2007, 277). In the opinion of D. Prigov, ontology
of V. Sorokin is manifested in such elements of
being, “as shock, boundary, breakthrough, unlike
self-realization of a living truth or a living thing
(Dostoyevsky), or the space of life and description
(Chekhov)” (Skoropanova, 2007, 277). D. Prigov’s
observations of works by Sorokin demonstrate
the presence of ironic artistic integrativeness,
revealing itself in dialectically interconnected
opposite elements of composition (“membrane”
and “chaos”, organization of form and its openness
for the reader’s interpretation).
As a 20th century writer, V. Sorokin suggests,
that “… a step into the abyss of primitive psyche
means the end of a human personality and,
simultaneously, a return to the pre-history”
(Sorokin, 1994, 24). Such saying reveals the
author’s attention to archetypical, mythological
structures that form the base of “The Novel” for
integration and “restraint” of verbal material.
Despite its ambiguity, the mentioned
criticism of V. Sorokin’s works demonstrate
integrative perception of the author’s style, the
presence of constitutive traits of his individual
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style which can be also explained by the presence
of an integrating strategy in this works. The
quotations given above reveal the general opinion
of scholars and critics on the integrative approach
in works by V. Sorokin, which is associated with
irony, a phenomenon of game, complete plunge
into sign structure and denial of life-likeness.
Let us turn to the peculiarities of “The Novel”
by V. Sorokin that bring cohesion into the text.
The title of the novel is semantically organizing.
The title, as a “privileged and offset part of an
artistic whole” (Tiupa, 2000, 10) acts as a cohesive
element that determines the further development
of the text and anticipates the expectations of the
readers. The name Roman (“Roman” is both the
name of a character and the name of the genre, as
“roman” in Russian stands for “novel”) makes up
a circular plot structure of the text together with
the image-word “death” which begins and finishes
the verbal conglomerate. In this case the title bears
a symbolic meaning, pointing at the tradition of
setting off the name of the central character into
the title and drawing the reader’s attention to the
genre of novel (roman) and its “fate”. The novel’s
title “The Novel” reflects the game strategy of the
author, who consciously chooses the character’s
name that (in Russian language) coincides with
the name of the genre.
It is evident that cohesion of V. Sorokin’s text
is also influenced by the selected material: the
author stylizes individual peculiarities of Russian
classic novels of the 19th century. About “The
Novel” by V. Sorokin I.S. Skoropanova writes:
“In his book “The Novel” (1994) Sorokin…
deconstructs the style codes of classical Russian
literature that have become cliché, numerously
“stamped” by imitator writers, and reveals the
destructive potential of a national archetype”
(Skoropanova, 2007, 260). It does not seem
possible to say that the verbal material included
into the text of V. Sorokin’s “Novel” is not
systematized: “For this reason it makes more
sense to speak of “quasi-non-selection” instead of
“non-selection”, as selection of material is what
the artist inevitably does, instead of mechanically
registering the facts that happen to appear in his
field of view” (Ilyin, 2004, 297). The attention of
the writer concentrates, first of all, on the genre
of the novel, not on any other genre. Stylistic
fragments of “The Novel” by V. Sorokin are also
remarkable for their strict organization which
points at highly conscious material selection,
dictated by the peculiarities of the individual
style of the author’s work.
The beginning of the novel contains some
features of the author’s style and the style of this
literary tendency in general. The author relies
on some clichés, or, to be more precise, on some
codes, connected with the author’s individual
manner of narration, with the genre and types
of artistic integrality. The stylized fragments
that open “The Novel” contain a complex of
idyllic and elegiac motives typical for the texts
with elegiac world outlook. It is an elegy in
prose, the examples of which begin to appear in
literature of the late 18th century. V. Sorokin uses
vocabulary that forms the motives of eternity and
immediateness, nature and human life opposed
to each other. V. Sorokin creates associations
with the style of I.S. Turgenev, renowned for the
mentioned peculiarities of poetics.
V. Sorokin reproduces the peculiarities
of I.S. Turgenev’s novel character system,
their manner of speaking. The modern author
insistently turns to the motive of indifference of
nature, develops it, repeats it, makes it as evident
as possible, revoking associations with the style
of I.S. Turgenev, based on the key features of
his books, though, of course, “the object-focus
and conventionality of the reproduced style is
perceived due to its bond with the language
consciousness of “a modern stylizer and his
audience” (Teoriia Literatury, 2004, 462).
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In “The Novel”, V. Sorokin makes the
peculiarities of I.S. Turgenev’s individual style
more acute, brings it to a grotesque, “excessively
Turgenev” degree, discloses the language game
process, thereby letting the reader understand,
that the text is a not an original but a parody
(though with no intention of mockery).
“The Novel” by V. Sorokin consists of stylistic
allusions to not only Turgenev, but also to some
novels by L.N. Tolstoy and F.M. Dostoyevsky.
“The Novel” has some fragments that contain
features of the style and idyllic world outlook
of certain episodes of “Anna Karenina” by L.N.
Tolstoy. With the help of simulacrum (Deleuze,
1993, 46), which is a resemblance of idyllic art, V.
Sorokin shapes up a text that involves the major
styles of a classical Russian novel.
V. Sorokin simulates the most typical features
of “Anna Karenina” poetics for the reader to feel
the similarities and differences of the texts, to
understand the game process that evolves on the
stylistic level. V. Sorokin turns to L.N. Tolstoy’s
most preferred themes of folk, joy of physical
being, health, happiness of motion, spiritual
union with simple people, collective labour, and
episodes of mowing, idyllic union of characters
with nature. “The Novel” by V. Sorokin reveals
the contradictory strategy of the author aimed
at organizing the verbal material in conformity
with the stylized manners, and, at the same time,
at destruction of naturalness in the narration. V.
Sorokin uses a set of motives connected with the
idyllic episode of the novel by L.N. Tolstoy, but
achieves the effect that lets the reader realize
the game intention of the author: “God, how
good it feels! - thought Roman, obtaining more
confidence and freedom with each move. – How
simple: make hay while the sun shines… Make
hay while the sun shines… How simple and
how good it is” (Sorokin, 2002, 414). On the
level of intonation, the motive of harmony in
the quoted line is actualized through the poetic
rhythm contained in the saying, increasing with
each repetition. Excessive rhythm in prosaic
speech makes the text ironic, “distant” from the
stylized source. By introducing clear formulation
of a moral problem that comes from the plot
development of the novel by L.N. Tolstoy, Sorokin
achieves the ironic, not the idyllic meaning again,
thereby enhancing the tendency of L.N. Tolstoy to
moralize: “He listened to them, he smiled, replied,
said some jokes, without feeling any difference
between him and them, and felt glad that they,
carried away with the conversation, would also
forget about the difference; and the thick wall
that had been built between the Russian peasant
and the Russian landlord for centuries became
absolutely transparent” (Sorokin, 2002, 422).
The excessiveness reveals itself in the repetition
of a word within one episode: “Russian peasant”,
“Russian landlord”, “Russian song”. Introduction
of literary meaning into the symbolic meaning
of the “wall” image with the help of qualitative
adjective “thick” (“tolstiy” in Russian) (possible
allusion to the last name of the writer, “Tolstoy”)
also destructs the stylistically reproduced idyllic
worldview. The lyrics of the “Russian song”,
which completes the mowing episode, is a merry
dancing song with a plenty of carnival images,
though the main character thinks of it as of a
song with “calm and soft melody”, which also
leads to an ironic mismatch between the formally
reproduced idyll and the non-idyllic stylistic
games.
The motive of the divine will develops
along with the motive of natural harmony and
naturalness of creative labour in the idyllic
episodes of the novel “Anna Karenina”, though
it is not directly named. In “The Novel” the same
motive is developed verbally, which makes the
moral problems of literary works by L.N. Tolstoy
recognizable for the reader, but on the other hand,
brings it forward too much, establishing them too
evidently, depriving them of the sacral secret.
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The final part of V. Sorokin’s text forms
associations with the novel “Crime and
Punishment” by F.M. Dostoyevsky in the reader’s
mind, creating a connection with the episode when
Rodion Raskolnikov kills the pawnbroker woman
and Lizaveta. In “The Novel” V. Sorokin uses the
word “axe” as a signal for the reader to grasp the
connection with the novel by F.M. Dostoyevsky
together with other stylistic techniques usually
preferred by the writer (naturalism of murder
scenes and situations, grotesque). “Multiplied” to
grotesque excessiveness, murder scenes of “The
Novel” lose their function of affecting the reader:
the grotesque brings them to absurd, to the loss
of psychological intensiveness, to complete
meaninglessness from the logical point of view;
in this case, the role of expressive means is played
by the linguistic game that takes place in the novel.
In the last one hundred and twenty four pages of
“The Novel” by V. Sorokin numerous murders
happen and axe blows are multiply repeated:
only in the last paragraph that takes up fifty nine
pages, the verb “to hit” is used thirty eight times,
along with such verbs as “to cut off”, “to mince”,
“to hash”. The episodes containing murder scenes
are repeated over and over again, only the names
of the characters, killed by Roman, are changed
(over forty names of peasants), which inevitably
leads to the loss of sense on the plot level and
enhancement of the significance on the level of
rhythmical organization of the book.
In the final part of “The Novel” the author
presents a list of actions typical for a carnival
scene, a tragic farce, the core of which is laceration,
tearing bodies into pieces in association with the
ambivalence of matter (Bakhtin, 1990, 212-213).
There is no doubt that V. Sorokin is inspired
by works of F. Rabelais, but in “The Novel”
the carnival images are preceded by stylistic
variations of classical Russian novels of the 19th
century, the individual peculiarities of the styles
are grotesquely brought to absurd, so death
and destruction turn into a means of renewal
for literary forms and traditions, liberation of
parodically reproduced stylistic features.
As a result of using single-type simple nonexpanded sentences in the final pages of the novel,
the text obtains the rhythm typical of metrical
prose, where, due to repetition of verb endings, a
rhyme occurs: “Roman crawled. Roman stopped.
Roman crawled. Roman stopped” (Sorokin,
2002, 635). Gradually, “The Novel” loses the
polyphony, typical for prose. At the end of the
book the words become monosyllabic, expressive,
the phrases become rhythmic, the actions of
the character get primitive, repetitive, similar
to those of a robot. The number of syllables in
simple sentences gradually decreases from 10-98-7 to 4-3 syllables. The last phrase of the novel
is rhythmically balanced: in the background of
interchange of two- and three-syllable words, of
iambic (“Roman stopped… Roman turned over…
Roman smelled the floor…) and trochaic rhythms
(“’pliunul”, “’stuknul”, “’khlopnul” – “spat, hit,
clapped”) a unity of iamb and trochee measure
syllables occurs: “Roman died” (Sorokin, 2002,
635). Destruction of the genre, of the styles
connected with a certain artistic world view, total
destruction of a classical work of literature finds
its manifestation in the two-syllable final of “The
Novel”. The strategy of creation and simultaneous
destruction is carried out throughout the whole
novel and brings cohesion to the text.
Symbolically it is a return to the archaic
structures of verbal utterances, a movement
backwards, to the origins of literature, from
compound plot and composition forms of the novel
genre to the primitive rhythmic prose with a plot
and composition, imitating a ritual-like action.
The amplification of eurhythmy at the end of
“The Novel” leads to impossibility of polyphony,
social differentiation of language: “Rhythm…
cuts off those social and spoken worlds and faces,
potential in a verbum, in the prime” (Bakhtin,
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1990, 110-111). The last thirty eight pages of
the text are not divided into paragraphs: they
are a rhythmically and compositionally unified
segment of text. Separate inarticulate lines of
characters are not graphically marked as direct
speech, and towards the end of the of the novel
they disappear completely.
The plot dynamics is slowed down at the
final of the novel due to multiple repetitions,
duplication of the character’s actions: it is a
transition from the traditional prose to the prose
of enhanced eurhythmy, the rhythm close to that
of poetry. The whole literary work by V. Sorokin
can be defined as a pastiche, a stylistic imitation,
variation on a theme of individual styles. The
logic of this game is formation and destruction
of these individual styles with hyperbolization
of stylistic differences, which brings to a logical
transition from prose to “poetry”: “The style is
really a deviation in a sense that it deviates from
neutral language due to a difference, an eccentric
peculiarity; while poetry... goes into the depth
of language, enriching it” (Genette, 1998, 361).
In “The Novel” by V. Sorokin the parodied
individual style of the author is dismissed and
then established again, but at the end of the book
the prosaic language eurhythmy performs a
compensating function to bring the “falling
apart” text back together into a whole. The
almost poetic text makes an impact on the reader,
involving them into the aesthetic game.
The main peculiarity of artistic integrality
of “The Novel” by V. Sorokin is the fact, that its
functionality is determined by the contradictory
intention of the author that manifests itself through
his special manner of writing. Destruction of the
common procedure of literature perception is
combined with the author’s strategy to involve the
reader into a game discourse, with his aspiration to
perform a communicative act. The chaos created
on the level of contents is combined with the
organized formal structure. The bond between the
form and contents, necessary for actualizing the
principle of aesthetic integrality, is on hand: “One
of the most wide-spread principles of defining
the art of postmodernism is approaching it as a
certain artistic code, e.g. a code of rules... The
difficulty of this approach is that from the formal
point of view, postmodernism acts as art, which
consciously denies any rules and regulations...”
(Ilyin, 1996, 256-266). Here we speak of
actualizing the “quasi-non-selection” principle
(Ilyin, 1998, 168) (not denying the selection
of linguistic or other elements of the text, but
imitating the denial of the principle). In the novel
by V. Sorokin the game of text bears the major
part of its contents; the plot, in the traditional
understanding of the term, is practically absent,
but there is a connection with the reality of the
reader’s conscience which is evident: “The 20th
century novel... is restored as a form of an open
life dialogue with the incomplete reality, with the
reader who acts as such reality. It does not cease
to be a work of art, but the boundary of this work
now is not the boundary of the event it depicts, but
the boundary of the creative act, which includes,
at the same time, the act of reader, without whom
it cannot be brought to life” (Rymar’, 2000, 100).
“The Novel” by V. Sorokin is characterized by
creation of a subsequently developing linguistic
game situation, which is described as a motion
towards syntactic simplification, disclosed in
the last fragment of the novel, in the multiple
repetition of simple sentences. The final of “The
Novel”, narrating of the death of the character,
symbolically represents the death of novel as a
genre, and, at the same time, forms the artistic
picture of ontological chaos with the help of a
stylistic game, carnival traditions, reviving the
parodied phenomena over again.
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8. Genette, G. Figury [Figures] in 2 volumes. Volume 1. Raboty po etike. Moscow: Sabashnikovy
Publishing House, 1998. 470 p.
9. Ilyin I.P. Nonselektsiia [Non-Selection] // Zapadnoe literaturovedenie XX: Entsiklopediia.
Noscow: Intrada, 2004. 560 p.
10. Ilyin I.P. Postmodernism ot istokov do kontsa stoletiia: evoliutsiia nauchnogo mifa
[Postmodernism from its Origins to the End of the Century: Evolution of a Scientific Myth]. Moscow:
Intrada, 1998. 255 p.
11. Ilyin I.P. Postmodernistskaia chuvstvitel’nost’ [Postmodernist Sensitivity] // Zapadnoe
literaturovedenie XX veka: Entsiklopediia. Moscow: Intrada, 2004. 560 p.
12. Kovtun N.V. Gnosticheskiy kod v romane L. Ulitskoy “Medeia i ee deti” [Gnostic Code
in the Novel by L. Ulitskaya “Medea and Her Children”] // Journal of Siberian Federal University.
Humanities and Social Sciences, 2012. 5 (9). 1343-1356, http://elib.sfu-kras.ru/handle/2311/3036
(21.01.14).
13. Lotman Yu.M. Lektsii po struktural’noy poetike [Lectures on Structuralist Poetics] // Yu.M.
Lotman i tartusko-moskovskaia semioticheskaia shkola. Moscow: Gnosis, 1994. 560 p.
14. Rymar’ N.T. Romannoe myshlenie i kul’tura XX veka [Novel Thinking and Culture of the
th
20 Century] // Literarurnyy tekst: problemy i metody issledovaniia 6 / Aspekty teoretichskoy poetiki:
dedicated to the 60th birthday of N. Tamarchenko. Moscow; Tver, 2000. Tver State University Press,
Issue 6, 244 p.
15. Skoropanova I.S. Russkaia postmodernistskaia literatura [Russian Postmodern Literature],
Moscow: Flinta Nauka, 2007, 608 p.
16. Sorokin V. Roman [The Novel] Sorokin V., Collection in 3 Volumes. Volume 2. Moscow: Ad
Marginem, 2002, 861 p.
17. Sorokin V. Cherez “vtoroe nebo” [Through the “Second Sky”] // Iskusstvo Kino, No.1, 1994.
23-30.
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18. Teoriia literatury [Theory of Literature] in 2 volumes. Volume 1. Teoriia khudozhestvennogo
diskursa. Teoreticheskaia poetika [Artistic Discourse Theory. Theoretic Poetics] / Tamarchenko N.D.,
Tiupa V.I., Broytman S.N. Moscow: Akademiia Publishing House, 2004. 512 p.
19. Tiupa V.I. Proizvedenie i ego imia [A Book and Its Name] // Literaturnyy tekst: Problemy
i metody issledovaniia. 6 / Aspekty teoreticheskoy poetiki: Dedicated to the 60th Birthday of N.D.
Tamarchenko. Moscow; Tver: Tver State University Press, Issue 6. 244 p.
20. Farino E. Vvedenie v literaturovedenie [Introduction into Literature Studies] Saint Petersburg,
Russian State Pedagogical University Press, 2004. 639 p.
21. Shatin Yu.V. Struktura khudozhestvennaia [Artistic structure] // Poetika: a dictionary of
actual terms and definitions. Moscow: Kulagina Publishing House; Intrada, 358 p.
22. Eco U. Otkrytoe proizvedenie: Forma i neopredelennost’ v sovremennoy poetike [The Poetics
of the Open Work] Saint Petersburg, OO TK Petropolis, 2004. 432 p.
Мифы о конце романа и отсутствии целостности
в “Романе” В. Сорокина
Е.Н. Рогова
Кемеровский государственный университет
Россия, 650043, Кемерово, ул. Красная, 6
Предметом исследования является специфическая эстетическая целостность
постмодернистского романа В. Сорокина “Роман”. Статья обнаруживает противоречивую
авторскую стратегию, проявляющуюся как в разрушении, так и сдерживании текстового
материала. Автор приходит к выводу о наличии в “Романе” продуманной композиции, движении
словесного материала от ритма прозы к ритму стиха, от имитации связанного сюжета к
возрастающему абсурду, от речевой многоголосицы к монологической речи. Стилистическая
эклектика не исключает наличия художественной целостности в “Романе”. Содержанием
романа является разворачиваемая автором игра, символизирующая восхождение к истокам
литературности. Русский классический роман подвергается деконструкции, обнажая пределы
формы жанра романа. Мифологические архетипические структуры в романе В. Сорокина
формируют игровое поле, способствующее возрождению пародируемых феноменов.
Ключевые слова: постмодернистский роман, эстетическая целостность, квазинонселекция,
стилизация, В. Сорокин.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 807-815
~~~
УДК 882
On the Problem of Determining “Generational”
Theme in the Novels of the 1990–2000-s
Tatyana А. Rytova*
Tomsk State University
36 Lenin Str., Tomsk, 634050, Russia
Received 29.01.2014, received in revised form 22.02.2014, accepted 10.03.2014
The present article studies the changes in the pattern of “generational” theme in Russian novel
(different from the traditional schemes of “Oedipus complex”, “ fathers and sons”) towards the end
of the 20th century and sets the problem of finding approaches to the explanation of this pattern in
the latest works of the 1990–2000-s. The analysis of the semantics of the “generation” concept states,
that “generation” is considered as one of the institutions of the reality objectification, because it is
the way of transferring such objectivity of the institutional world that was required to “increase” and
“strengthen”. The paper proposes a concept of the “generational” plot as an image of communication
between generations on the “co-being” level, when one character is involved into the construction
of the objective reality image from subjective ideas in order to transfer their experience to another
generation. The article offers an explanation of this plot, relying on the phenomenological sociological
conception of Berger and Luckmann.
Keywords: generation, plot, Russian novel of the 2000-s.
In the 19-20th centuries Russian literature
dealt with “descriptive and explanatory
conceptions of Russian generations” more
than sociology, which resulted to “describing a
generation not as a collective, but intellectually or
socially active entities (generation of Decembrists,
generation of the 60-s, revolutionary generation1
etc.)” (Semenova, 2005, 84). In the literature
of the 19th and the 20th centuries the essence of
the “generational” theme was the intelligentsia
(existential) “alienation of the person from the
society as a result of a symbolic riot raised by its
non-compliance with the ideal construct made
up in the protagonist’s conscience” (Kuznetsov,
2008) (see: A. Pushkin “Dubrovsky”, I. Turgenev
*
“Fathers and Sons”, A. Hertzen “My Past
and Thoughts”, L. Tolstoy “War and Peace”,
F. Dostoyevsky “The Adolescent”, A. Bely
“Petersburg”, L. Leonov “The Thief”, “The
Russian Forest”, B. Pasternak “Doctor Zhivago”,
Yu. Trifonov “The Old Man” etc.)2. The model
of a generational theme in this literature was
based on depicting the “generation conflict”3
in its classical variants (“Oedipus complex”,
“fathers and sons”). It is explained by the fact,
that up until the late 20th – early 21st century
the scholars considered generation gap to be a
universal theme in the human history, as all of
these inter-generational conflicts are based on
the eternal competition between the father and
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: rytova1967@mail.ru
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the son (“Oedipus complex”). In the late 1960s H. Marcuse defined generation conflict as a
natural law originating from the anthropological
structure of human needs, and L. Foyer remarked,
that competition between the father and the son
is a stronger propulsion of history than the class
struggle (Glotov, 2004, 44-45).
Characterizing the “transforming Russian
society” of the last 20th century decades,
sociologists began speaking not so much of the
conflict, as of the “gap” between the generations,
“that reflects the interruption of graduality,
disruption of historical development”. The social
values lived by the Soviet generations “lost their
sense and practical value in the new historical
situation, and, therefore, cannot be inherited by the
‘children’, as they are not suitable neither for their
present nor future life” (Molodezh’ Rossii, 1993).
In Russian literature of late 1970-s – early 1990-s
the depiction of the generation conflict goes deep
into the context, and “in the legend of the Soviet
intelligentsia and its (unofficial) literature there
are two motives or motive knots that form the
storyline: the obstruction and collapse of several
generations or even ‘all at once’; the symbol and
figure of deliriousness, abruption, negatively
resulting in the imperative task ‘to maintain and
to convey’ the image of the past, to pass on ‘the
heritage’”… (Dubin, 2005, 79) (this is the theme
of such novels as “Pushkin House” by A. Bitov”,
“The Shore” by Yu. Bondarev, “The Burannyy
Railway Stop” by Ch. Aitmatov, “Father Forest”
by A. Kim, “Lines of Fate” by M. Kharitonov,
“The Infinite Deadlock” by D. Galkovsky,
“Slynx” by T. Tolstaya etc.).
At the turn of the 20th – 21st centuries the
development of post-industrial civilization (the
reign of technos, globalization, computerization,
mass media technologies) dictates the change in
the scholar’s view on the conflict and succession
of the generations. Researches of modern
sociologists and psychologists demonstrate, that
“ancestral memory preserves information on the
gender identity and the place of its gender in the
system of the genealogical tree, but erases the
information of its name, life and fate” (Vekilova,
2013, 300-301). The eternal competition between
the father and the son as a basis of intergenerational
conflicts loses its edge, because “the modern
society and its authority is not experienced
by the unconscious as the image of the Father
as a mentor, protector and embodiment of the
values, but resembles the archaic image of the
almighty Mother. The maternal element is mostly
represented by the almighty technology, which
makes a human feel helpless” (Glotov, 2004,
45). Moreover, intergenerational relationships
develop on the tempos of the scientific, technical
and social development (Meed, 1970), while in
the current round of civilization “‘the velocity
of sending more of new and new life forms into
the tradition’ accelerates so much, that there is
no word in the language to describe it” (Kutyrev,
1998, 180).
As a result, modern literature captures the
transformation of existential communication
of persons into “situational communication”,
the
transformation
of
communication
between individuals into rational “superficial
communication”
(physical
interaction,
depreciation
of
information,
implicit
complementation of values) (Nora, 1998, 56) (it
can be observed in the novels of the 1990-s – 2000s: “The Bite of an Angel” by P. Krusanov, “Life
of Insects” and “Generation P” by V. Pelevin,
“One Night Befalls Us All” and “Maidenhair”
by M. Shishkin, “Haze Sets Upon the Old Steps”
by A. Chudakov, “The Underground, or a Hero
of Our Time” and “Fear” by V. Makanin, “The
Time: Night” by L. Petrushevskaya, “Freedom”
by M. Butov, “Konigsberg” by Yu. Buyda, “The
Fish” by P. Aleshkovsky, “The Peasant and the
Teenager” by A. Dmitriev etc.). In the previous
researches (Rytova, 2007, 2008, 2009) the author
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has already stated that in the prose of the 1980-s –
2000-s by S. Dovlatov, A. Chudakov, A. Utkin,
Yu. Buyda the generational theme is moved from
the figural layer of the text into intertextual one
(communication between the generation is scaled
back to signs and is expressed with allusions).
Therefore, if a plot is a form of expressing
the procedurality of being and/or procedurality
of conscience, then the generational plot is
traditionally concentrated on depicting the process
of communication between “I” and “Other” as
representatives of different generations. However,
it leads to a question: what can point at the
generational communication in modern literature,
if the “encounter” of generation representatives is
not directly depicted?
Relying on the philosophic researches of
E. Husserl, A Schütz, E. Levinas, works by
M. Bakhtin (Husserl, 2004; Levinas, 2000;
Schütz, 2003; Bakhtin, 1979), we may suggest
that the point of view of a “third one” who sees the
act of communication as an ontological process is
inevitable (in a literary text it is the author).
In his work “Totality and Infinity”,
E. Levinas marks the following aspects of
communication between “I” and “Other” as
an ontological process, which can be related to
the depiction of generational communication in
modern literature: 1) for Levinas, when I meets
the Other, it faces absolute difference4 and
insuperable opposition; verbal communication
with the Other reveals the transcendentality of
the Other; 2) Levinas considers that subjective
expression of admission of the Other in the
structure of ethic relation is the Action. For our
interpretation of the modern generational plots,
where the real communication of generation is
scaled back, the conception of Levinas that the
Act is “the connection with the Other, which
reaches it, though it is not aware”; 3) language
is also an important component in the conception
of Levinas; it is what makes relations between
separate persons possible. I expresses itself to the
Other in speech; I introduces itself, selects some
words, produces meanings. For Levinas, language
structurizes “my” encounter with the Other due
to the “traces”; 4) these ontological aspects of
generational communication are mostly found
because, for Levinas, “my” responsibility for the
“Other” is evaluated by a “third person” (which
in literature is the author).
Besides philosophic works, revelation
of a generational plot requires relying on the
“hints” hidden in the transforming semantics
of the term “generation”, because the history of
interpretation of the term is connected with the
shift of emphases in the social, historical, cultural,
civilizational understanding5. In the 19th century,
when the West European social philosophy began
developing its interest to the scientific analysis of
the “generation” and its problems, the scholars
were mainly using the traditional, bio-genetic
interpretation of the term: V.Dal explained the word
“generation” as “a family, tribe, relation; related
by blood, in descending or ascending order, with
the ancestors and descendants” (Dal, 1994, 626).
In the 20th century, when historical cataclysms
made its inevitable impact on the life of people,
historical and cultural interpretation dominated;
it was set forward by philosopher W. Dilthey and
the largest researcher of generational sociology
K. Mannheim, who specified: “We may talk of
a generation only when the representatives of
certain generations are connected with each other
with everything they experienced as a result of
social and intellectual symptoms of the dynamic
destabilization process” (Mannheim, 1998,
28). Therefore, “Being specific constructions of
reality, cultures (these variously structured and
differentiated spheres) predetermine the sense of
humane existence in culture” (Реtrucijova, 2010,
618).
At the turn of the 20th – 21st centuries different
approaches to interpretation of the “generation”
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term co-exist with each other: anthropological,
ethnographical, historical and cultural, social and
demographical, sociological etc. Depending on
which problem in interpretation of the world and
the human is made the cornerstone, it is possible to
find associated interpretations of the “generation”
in works by philosophers and sociologists, who,
throughout the whole 20th century, have been
actively developing the generational theme
and models (K. Mannheim, J. Ortega y Gasset,
I.S. Kon, R. Laufer, Yu.A. Levada, L. Ya. Lurye,
P.Ya. Sorokin, N. Eisenstadt etc.). From our
point of view, in the epoch of virtual reality
and computer technology Russian literature
focuses on the problem of “search” for the reality
and consequent understanding of the fact, that
failures of stereotypes and values of the whole
generation are not just an eternal (archetypical),
but also an excessively frequent (in the technos
epoch) process. They activate the discovery of
the uncontrollable and indescribable reality. The
problem of “grasping” and objectification of the
reality is complicated for scholars with the new
idea of the “historical time”: “the new Present is
flooded with an endlessly great number of hints
on the material presence of the Past”, and “the
technical opportunities for creating simulacra
of the phenomena typical for any past, have
dramatically grown” (Gumbrecht, 2007, 48). In the
plots of their novels, the modern writers (realists,
modernists, postmodernists) contemplate on the
problem of the new generation’s production of an
objective reality from the subjective ideas of the
individuals (V. Pelevin “Generation P”, “Chapaev
and Emptiness”, Yu. Buyda “Konigsberg”,
A. Chudakov “Haze Sets Upon the Old Steps”,
M. Shishkin “Pismovnik”, S. Bogdanova
“Dream of Jocasta”, “The Mathematician” by
A. Ilichevsky etc.) At the turn of the 20th – 21st
centuries the literature realized, that “as a keeper
of the axiological base of the generation, the
protagonist, responsible for receiving and decoding
information from the previous generation, is, in
fact, not liable for anything, and creates his own
reality on the base of illusory associations created
by himself” (Kuznetsov, 2008).
In the conception set forward in the
book “The Social Construction of Reality” by
German-speaking sociologists, followers the
phenomenological sociology of knowledge, Peter
Berger and Thomas Luckmann, (1966) (Berger,
Luckmann, 1995), it is possible to find the kind of
interpretation of the function of “the generation”
which was demanded at the very turn of the 20th –
21st centuries, because in the epoch of replicating
simulacra of the past and continuously updating
present, in the epoch of text and virtual reality the
society feels the urge for finding some institutions
for reality objectification (in the opinion of
sociologists, “the nature of the phenomena cannot
be understood from the strictly empirical point of
view; the social world of man is connected with
existence and is actualized from the unknown
sides of the unconscious”) (Malenko, 2010,
309). According to “The Social Construction of
Reality”, the “generation” category can be taken
as one of such institutions for objectification of
reality as, in the authors’ opinion, “only with the
appearance of a new generation can one properly
speak of a social world” (“reality of the social
world acquires its massiveness in the process of
transmission to the new generations” (Berger,
Luckmann, 1995, 102-103).
From our point of view, the BergerLuckmann conception can be used for
interpreting the generational storyline in those
modern novels, in which it is connected not
with the depiction of direct communication (or
a conflict) between generations, but with their
co-existence in the “co-being”. “The base for the
succession of generation is formed by the process
of a personality socialization” (Glotov, 2004, 47);
in the work “The Social Construction of Reality”
there is a description of the “socialization model”
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as a process of “objectification of the reality”
by human from his individual experience of
“here-and-now” routine and subjective ideas6.
This process embodies the formation of the
“collective meaning” of the generation, because
it is for transmission of the objectiveness of the
institutional7 world to the new generation it shall
be “increased” and “strengthened” (the world
needs to acquire “the stability in the conscience”
of the transmitter generation, to become “much
more real”)8.
In the conception of Berger-Luckmann
there are the following statements, that can be
related to the pattern of the generational storyline
development in modern novels. Socializations of a
person in the adult life (secondary socializations),
which let him realize itself as a part of the
generation, usually begin in order to get over
some emotional childhood memories (which
is the radical transformation of the subjective
reality of the individual) (Berger, Luckmann
1995, 230)9. According to Berger-Luckmann, an
individual may not contribute any more sense to
his biography (and, consequently, cannot become
a representative of a “generation”), until his
subjective experience becomes sedimented, as
the attention of any person is always drawn to
the reality of his everyday life. Sedimentation
of the subjective experience of an individual
occurs in the language which gives sense to the
biography of the person, because it shapes up the
image of the objective reality in his conscience
by forming patterns for recognizing objects,
utterance of actions and utterance of existence; it
shows the level of social relation etc. (“language
can become an objective repository of vast
accumulations of meaning and experience, which
it can then preserve in time and transmit” (Berger,
Luckmann, 1995, 65-66)).
Moreover, Berger and Luckmann pay
attention to the fact, that language constructs
the symbols ultimately abstracted from the
everyday experience10, “transforming” them into
objectively existing elements of everyday life.
Compare: “symbolization does not only provide
the access to different aspects of meaning
overcoming the everyday reality; in the opposite
way, it constructs a social aspect of this everyday
reality” (L. Perrault) (see: Zenkin, 2013, 313).
Modern sociologists say, that “description of the
mass generation as a symbolic whole is possible
as construction of a matrix of significant symbols
of the generation, which acquire its mass value
for a certain generation, constructing its selfconscience” (Semenova, 2005, 86).
The last step in the process of objectification
of subjective ideas and senses is “reification”, an
operation (modality) of the conscience, as a result
of which the objectivized world is no longer
perceived by an individual as created by the
subjective conscience of a person, and is secured
with a property of a non-human, dehumanized
and inert factuality: “the institutions that have
now been crystallized (for instance, the institution
of paternity as it is encountered by the children)
are experienced as existing over and beyond the
individuals who ‘happen to’ embody them at
the moment. In other words, the institutions are
now experienced as possessing a reality of their
own, a reality that confronts the individual as an
external and coercive fact” (Berger, Luckmann,
1995, 98).
The applicability of these statements to the
analysis of modern novel storylines is witnessed
by the fact that the pattern of constructing
objective reality as a whole, presented here on
the basis of the work by Berger-Luckmann, in
general corresponds to the universal four-phase
plot pattern, researched by J. Frazer, V. Tiupa
and others, which includes: phase of alienation,
spatial departure (in the contemporary literature,
retirement into oneself, disappointment, languor,
exasperation), phase of (new) partnership,
establishment of new inter-subject connection;
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phase of death probation; phase of transformation,
change of the character status (Tiupa, 2001,
44-46). Moreover, this pattern corresponds to
the object and the problem of the “novel plot”,
“depiction of an individual personality in its
opposition to ‘prosaically structured reality’”
(Stavitsky, 2006, 5). Ideas of Berger-Luckmann
are significant because the generational theme
is not just an artistic depiction of generational
communication (conflict, succession), but also
the story of how a protagonist (private individual)
forms his generational values (ideas, texts,
symbols, picture of the objective world) for the
sake of other generations.
Conception of Berger-Luckmann provokes a
generational theme researcher for the following
hypotheses that require additional probation
in the wide context of theoretical works and
confirmation in the analysis of novel plots: 1.
Function (mission) of generations is to create their
own objective pictures of reality and individual
biography of a person from subjective knowledge
and ideas for the sake of transmitting them to
the next generations. Such creation is carried out
by each person individually, but it only makes
sense if seen as a collective phenomenon. 2.
2. Therefore, generational theme can be actualized
in literature not only by depicting a conflict
(internal generational or intergenerational) on
the level of “events”, but also by depicting the
communication of generations on the level of
“co-being”, which means that representatives of
different generations, introduced into the plot by
the author, communicate indirectly, through an
intermediary; when one of them, for the sake of
transmitting their life world and life experience to
the next generation, begins to construct an image
of objective reality from subjective experience
and knowledge (going through the way from the
cognition of the “self-evident” everyday life /
experience to the creation of their own “texts”,
search for the generational values and symbols,
formation of a “symbolic universum” and
“reification” thereof.
In the event of confirmation of the above
hypotheses, the analysis of semantics and
poetics of a “generational theme” shall include:
1. Interpretation of the main protagonist image
as a carrier of the generational function and
entelechy11, which also includes: interpretation
of the protagonist storyline (with the emphasis
on the generational reasons that evoke the
person to begin constructing his own picture of
the world), interpretation of distance between
the protagonist and a representative of another
generation (closeness-remoteness of the subjects
reveals the closeness of their value systems
(Vodolazhskaia, Katsuk), and explanation of
the idea (problem), which binds the protagonist
with the representative of another generation.
2. Interpretation of the everyday world of the
protagonist before the moment of his acquisition
of generational self-identification, including:
interpretation of space and material world,
surrounding him “here-and-now”, and systems of
protagonists and their interaction, as expressed in
the context of the protagonist’s everyday life. 3.
Interpretation of the process of construction of
the objective reality as a process of generational
self-actualization for the protagonist, including:
explanation of the event (crisis, problem),
which pushes the protagonist to alienate from
his everyday life and aspire to transmit his
experience to others; revelation of a system of
signs the protagonist turns to in the search for
a language of sedimentation of his everyday
experience (literature, religion, science, dance
etc.) and modus of this sign system operation
(written text, oral speech, flow of conscience,
reading or interpretation of signs”; interpretation
of the picture of the world the protagonist builds
in his own text, applying the selected system of
signs and modus; revelation of key symbols of
generational conscience and model of symbolic
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universum in the his picture of the world; and,
finally, interpretation of the reification method for
the world modelled by the protagonist (merge of
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
subjective model of the world with the everyday
reality) and characteristic of the reified world (as
depicted in the final of the novel).
Historical generations were named after ruling monarchs: “Ekaterina generation”, literary (Pushkin generation) or social
leaders (Decembrists generation).
Hereinafter, the names of novels given as examples are those in which the lines of generational plots are clearly found.
“The conflict of generations is a process of occurrence, manifestation, collision and resolution of contradiction both
between representatives of the same generation (internal generation conflict) and between representatives of different
generations (intergeneratoin conflict)” (Glotov, 2004, 42).
Hereinafter: italics by the author of the article.
Semantic “flexibility” of the “generation” term is a way of using it to identify the complicated reality signs: personality
and society, types of communication and biological species etc.
See.: “Discovery of the initial relation of the social cognition object as a subject matter of this or that science… is in … the
material phenomena of its existence, in the practical everyday experience of each acting person within the research object
of the individual. This relation is the real life of all members of a certain human community in all of its aspects” (Pyanov,
2012, 332).
The institutional world is objectivated human activity, and so is every single institution. (Berger, Luckmann, 1995, 101102).
From our point of view, it explains the contradictory meaning found in the phenomenon of “the generation” by the French
sociologist P. Nora: “generation, in its nature is a purely individual phenomenon”, but “only makes sense when seen collectively” (Nora, 1998, 55).
“Primary socialization is the fi rst socialization an individual undergoes in childhood, through which he becomes a member of society” (Berger, Luckmann, 1995, 212). “In primary socialization there is no problem of identification. There is
no choice of significant others. Primary socialization thus accomplishes what may … appear as necessity what is in fact a
bundly of contingencies” (Berger, Luckmann, 1995, 219-220).
“Any significative theme that thus spans spheres of reality may be defi ned as a symbol” (Berger, Luckmann, 1995, 70).
By “entelechy” K. Mannheim, who introduced the term, understood the internal duty of the generation. According to
R. Pinder, “entelechy” is a creative core of generation succession, close to the term of “zeitgeist”.
References
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Publishing House, 1979.
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[Psychometric Features of the Multigenerational Family Genogram Method] // European Social Science
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Problem Establishment and Opportunities for Research] URL: http://sociologia-by.livejournal.
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Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniia, No.10, 2004.
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[Contemporary History” in the Present of a Changing Chronotope] // Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie,
No. 83, 2007.
7. Husserl E. Krizis evropeyskikh nauk i transtsendental’naia fenomenologiia [The Crisis of
European Science and Transcendental Phenomenology] Saint Petersburg: Vladimir Dal, 2004.
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Great Russian Langueage], Moscow, “Progress” Publishing Group, “Univers”, Vol. 3. 1994
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9. Dubin B.V. Pokolenie: smysl i granitsy poniatiia [Generation: Meaning and Boundaries of
the Term] // Ottsy i deti: Pokolencheskiy analiz sovremennoy Rossii [Fathers and Sons: Generational
Analysis of Modern Russia]. Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2005.
10. Zenkin S. Dar, simvol i rasskaz. Zametki o teorii 29 [Gift, Symbol and Tale. Notes on 29
Theory] // Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie No. 120, 2013.
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material romana “Generation P” V. Pelevina v aktual’nom kontekste “Generation X” D. Kouplenda
[Generational Problem Dominants of the Modern Russian Literature, Based on the Novel “Generation
P” by V. Pelevin in the actual context of “Generation X” by D. Coupland]: dissertation for the title
Candidate of Philological Science. Vologda, 2008, 191 p. URL: http://www.dissercat.com/content/
dominanty-pokolencheskoi-problematiki-sovremennoi-russkoi-literatury-na-materiale-romana-gen.
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13. Levinas E. Izbrannoe. Total’nost’ i Beskonechnoe [Selected Works. Totality and Eternity].
Moscow, Saint Petersburg: Universitetskaia Kniga, 2000.
14. Malenko S.A. K probleme arkhetipicheskoy determinatsii stsenariev sotsial’nogo
vzaimodeystviia [About the Problem of Archetype Determination of the Scripts of Social Interaction]
// Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities and Social Science. Volume 3, No.2, 2010.
15. Mannheim K. Problema pokoleniy [Problem of Generations] // Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie
No.30, 1998.
16. Molodezh’ Rossii: Tendentsii, perspektivy [The Youth of Russia: Tendencies and Prospectives]
/ Edited by Ilyinsky I.M., Sharonov A.V. Moscow: Molodaia Gvardiia Publishing House, 1993.
17. Meed M. Culture and Commitment. A study of the Generation Gap. New York, 1970.
18. Nora P. Pokolenie kak mesto pamiati [Generation as a Place of Memory] // Novoe literaturnoe
obozrenie, No.30, 1998.
19. Реtrucijova Jelena. In the Trac of Human Identity // Journal of Siberian Federal University.
Humanities and Social Science. Volume 4, No.3, 2010. P. 618.
20. Pyanov A. Teoreticheskie i metogologicheskie aspekty postanovki i resheniia problemy
formirovaniia sotsiologicheskogo podkhoda k issledovaniiu sem’i [Theoretical and Methodological
Aspects of Establishment and Resolution of the Problem of Forming a Sociological Approach to Family
Research] // European social science journal. 2012. No. 4 (20). P. 332.
21. Rytova T.A. Opyt starshikh i refleksiia molodogo geroia (ustnye rasskazy v proze 19902000-kh gg.) [Experience of the Seniors and Contemplation of a Younger Protagonist (spoken tales
in the prose of the 1990-2000-s)] // Sovremennost’ v zerkale refleksii: iazyk, kul’tura, obrazovanie:
Proceedings of the International Scientific Conference. Irkutsk, Irkutsk State University Press, 2009.
P. 404-417
22. Rytova T.A. Rol’ ustnykh rasskazov v vosstanovlenii sviazey “ottsov” i “detey” v romane Yu.
Buydy “Kenigsberg” [Role of Spoken Tales in the Restoration of Bonds between “Fathers” and “Sons”
in the Novel “Konigsberg” by Yu. Buyda] // Russkaia literature XX veka: imena, problemy, kul’turnyy
dialog. Issue 9: “Ottsy” i “deti” v russkoy literature XX veka (“Fathers” and “Sons” in the Russian
Literature of the 20th Century). Tomsk: TSU Press, 2008. P. 225-247.
23. Rytova T.A. Stolknovenie natsional’nykh mirov i sud’ba chastnogo cheloveka v istorii (roman
A. Utkina “Khorovod”) [The Collision of National Worlds and the Fate of an Individual in History
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Tatyana А. Rytova. On the Problem of Determining “Generational” Theme in the Novels of the 1990–2000-s
(Novel “Round Dance” by A. Utkin)] // Russkoiazychnaia literature v kontekste vostochnoslavianskoy
kul’tury. Tomsk, TSU Press, 2007. P. 211-226
24. Semenova V.V. Sovremennye kontseptsii i empiricheskie podkhody k poniatiiu “pokolenie”
v sotsiologii [Modern Conceptions and Empirical Approaches to the Definition of “Generation” in
Sociology] // Ottsy i deti: Pokolencheskiy analiz sovremennoy Rossii. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe
obozrenie, 2005.
25. Stavitsky A.V. Metamorfozy romannoy formy (K voprosu o tak nazyvaemom “krizise” romana)
[Novel Form Metamorphosis (On the Problem of the So-Called “Novel Crisis”] // Filologicheskie
nauki, NO.4, 2006.
26. Tiupa V.I. Analitika khudozhestvennogo (vvedenie v literaturovedcheskiy analiz) [Analysis of
the Artistic (Introduction into Literary Analysis)]. Moscow: Labirint, RSTU Press, 2001.
27. Schütz A. Smyslovaia struktura povsednevnogo mira: ocherki po fenomenologicheskoy
sotsiologii [The Structures of the Life-World]. Moscow: Institute of the “Public Opinion” Foundation,
2003.
К проблеме определения “поколенческого” сюжета
в романах 1990–2000-х годов
Т.А. Рытова
Томский государственный университет
Россия, 634050, Томск, пр. Ленина, 36
В статье рассматривается изменение к концу XX века схемы событий “поколенческого”
сюжета в русском романе (не в соответствии с традиционными схемами – “Эдипов комплекс”,
“отцы и дети”) и ставится проблема поиска подходов к объяснению этой схемы в новейших
произведениях 1990–2000-х гг. В результате анализа семантики понятия “поколение”
констатируется, что “поколение” считают одним из институтов объективации реальности,
потому что именно для передачи новому поколению объективность институционального мира
необходимо “увеличить” и “укрепить”. В статье предлагается понимание “поколенческого”
сюжета как изображения коммуникации поколений на уровне “со-бытия”, когда герой ради
передачи своего опыта другому поколению включается в конструирование образа объективной
реальности из субъективных идей. В статье предлагается объяснение этого сюжета с опорой
на феноменологическую социологическую концепцию П. Бергера и Т. Лукмана.
Ключевые слова: поколение, сюжет, русский роман 2000-х годов.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 816-823
~~~
УДК 82.09
Literocentrism of Modern Criticism
Yulia А. Govorukhina*
Siberian Federal University
79 Svobodny, Krasnoyarsk, 660041, Russia
Received 30.01.2014, received in revised form 28.02.2014, accepted 14.03.2014
The article proves the thesis about literocentrism of a modern professional reader’s critical thinking.
It is contrary to the traditional perception of literary situation of the end of the XX - beginning of
the XXI centuries, a period of crisis of literocentrism. The article bases upon the material, covering
literary criticism of liberal and patriotic magazines, postmodern criticism, new criticism of the 2000s. Signs of literocentrism show in each of them: finding out topical answers and truths in a fiction text,
their transfer to a reader in the form of patterns of behavior / thinking, the authority of the classical
literature, etc. At the turn of the XX-XXI centuries an elite writer turned into an intellectual who
stopped teaching and prophesying. Literature, especially poetry, is aware of the incompleteness of
understanding. Literary criticism notes it but changes neither instrumentally nor gnoseologically.
Keywords: literocentrism, crisis of literocentrism, literary criticism, liberal and patriotic magazines /
criticism, postmodern criticism.
Introduction
At the turn of the 21 century the crisis
of literocentrism is given two extreme
characteristics: that of a national disaster and
that of a human salvation, a chance to learn to
think autonomously. Literocentrism as well as the
absence of it is a mental fact. In this regard literary
criticism is analyzed as the material giving an
idea of a modern reader. At this we base upon
the following understanding of literocentrism
in criticism: literocentrism is finding out topical
answers and truths in a fiction text, their transfer
to a reader in the form of patterns of behavior /
thinking.
The analysis of critical literary texts written
at the turn of the 21st century has resulted in the
following conclusion: being categorical towards the
st
*
crisis of literocentrism, the majority of the critics
stick to literocentrism in their interpretational
strategies and their understanding of a writer’s
role and “a writer – a reader” dichotomy.
Forms of literocentrism
in various types
of Russian criticism
The most vivid signs of literocentrism
reveal themselves in the criticism of “patriotic”
magazines. Crisis is slightly reflexed by this
criticism. The idea of a patriotic edition is based
on a strong belief in an exceptionally important
role of a writer-prophet who knows the truth; on
a magazine’s mission of a fighter for the intellects
of the society; on the idea of a reader-subscriber,
trusting a word.
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: yuliya_govoruhina@list.ru
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It is literocentrism that explains the tendency
of creation of character sketches which clearly
manifests itself in patriotic criticism. A critic’s
task is to portray a writer-citizen and fighter
for traditional values, to embody his life as the
evidence of truth of values translated by the
“patriots” (See (Kovtun, 2013) about patriarchal
values in modern traditionalistic prose). Three
plots can be distinguished in “patriotic” critics’
literary portraits (See (Vasil’ev, 2009) about plot
typology). These are the plot of trial, the plot of
the “prodigal son” (See (Toporkov, 2009) about
the plot of a journey from a province to the capital
and back regarded as the search for self-identity),
and the plot of implicit authenticity. They reflect
possible referent patterns for a reader who is
supposed to extract patterns from literature
(Govorukhina, 2013). A hero of every character
sketch is represented as a unique personality,
possessing Knowledge that a writer got intuitively,
from God, from nature, from a dramatic life
experience. Thus, according to P. Tkachenko, Ia.
Smeliakov clearly sees the nature of correlation
of the Russian and the Soviet and believes that
the Soviet period is a logical stage in a tragic
history of the country and that one should live
in the present, be proud of it and leave a tragic
past (Tkachenko 2013, p. 228). In P. Tkachenko’s
opinion, a poet’s evolution from revolutionary
consciousness to traditional one is that true
pattern to be followed by everyone who, having
rejected a difficult Soviet period in the history of
the country in their time, brought a new trouble
(Tkachenko, 2013). A mystic halo of a writer’s
life, a motif of predestination of a course of life,
and creative development are constant parts in the
texts of such a genre. Thus, in a literary portrait
“Neozhidannaia proza Leonida Borodina”
(“Leonid Borodin’s unexpected prose”) we read:
“He could probably have made a good police
officer but the fate ordered otherwise. But what
I am sure of is that Borodin was doomed to be a
writer. Calling for writing is embodied initially.
Had his fate changed or had he traded places with
Rasputin, they both would have turned out to be
writers anyway” (Bondarenko, 1998, 247).
In fiction texts a patriotic critic is inclined
to search for the patterns of behavior (including
“semiotic and teleological patterns of linguistic
behaviour” (Klukanov, 2002)) and thinking which
he considers to be saving in a present-day situation
of value disorientation. It is the space itself that
is often viewed to be saving (See (Anisimov,
2004) about the topic of Siberia as a province, its
origin, Siberian text). A writer’s pointing gesture
is read by the patriots, and this viewing system
also results from their literocentric thinking.
Whether or not a writer aims at teaching and
sharing knowledge has become one of the most
important criteria in estimation of his work’s
value (evaluation is viewed here as a social act
in which a critic is guided by institutional norms
and restrictions (Wouter de Nooy, 1999)). Thus,
V. Kurbatov reproaches contemporary authors
for their position of art dismissal, opposing them
to writers who focused not on form but meaning
(Kurbatov, 2010).
A critic blaming literature for the problems of
modern day society must be literocentric. By this
he believes that literature offers absolute impact
force, organizes / corrupts the minds. According
to V. Kurbatov, poetry is guilty of vulgarity and
nonentity of present life (Ibid.). N. Bludilina also
asserts that horror stories of modern literature
inevitably cultivate fear, horror, negative image,
and disorientation (Bludilina, 2012).
Indisputable authority of classical literature
is also literocentric for a patriotic critic who
enjoys making use of his authority to appropriate
and form true field of literature (See (Anisimova,
2011) about re-actualization of classical literature
as a factor of a writer’s identity; (Krylov, 2012)
about methodological guidelines for functional
analysis of critical texts). For the patriots a
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strong point of classical literature is knowledge it
contains, its explanatory potential.
The headlines of the articles published in
“Nash Sovremennik” (“Our Contemporary”) also
prove literocentrism of their writers’ thinking:
“One who’ll read it to the end will save himself…”,
“Lessons of philology”, “Enlightener”, “Gogol’s
sermon is heard today”, “A wise man from
Kliashev”, “A real teacher”, “Russian lessons by
Vadim Kozhinov”, etc.
Conversations about crisis of literocentrism
have acquired the status of fashionable ones
in liberal criticism. Destroying a paradigm
of officialese criticism, the “liberals” should
seemingly have readjusted the pattern of their
activity the way it could release authoritarianism
of each constituent part of this pattern (for more
details see (Govorukhina, 2012)). However, with
all the obvious changes in the structure of a critical
activity itself, criticism of liberal magazines still
sticks to literocentric guidelines.
If interpretation is an answer to a question,
then literocentric interpretation is, fi rstly,
interpretation caused by the need for answers,
and, secondly, the one that is based on the idea
that it is literature that knows the answers. The
difference between “patriotic” literocentrism and
“liberal” one is considered worth mentioning.
As for liberal literocentrism, it neither extends
the answer to all ones, regarding it generally
valid, nor shapes it in the form of imperative.
The issue of literocentrism here is the issue of
resources of cognition, possibilities of cognition
by a word.
Literal criticism at the turn of the ХХ-ХХI
centuries shows its enhanced attention to the author
(the experience of self-consciousness and world
awareness), characters and their psychological
state, world-view and self-comprehension. A
critic together with numerous readers is in the
situation when it is necessary to cognize the
world and oneself without basing on ideology.
In this case critical texts, focusing upon “Who
am I?” question, turn out to be guiding for nonprofessional readers, teaching them to understand
(not to live). A critic’s “question” determines the
aspect of analysis and a text’s plane of content to
be actualized. A question significant for criticism
at the turn of the centuries is “What are the ways
of survival/existence in the situation of crisis/
radical turn/end?” (Govorukhina, 2012).
A tendency to suggest writers and critics
that they should ignore an opportunity to
exert influence on readers can be also called
literocentric. P. Basinskii defines such criticism
as callous. He regrets that a cold, lifeless literary
game has become a perspective norm while a
higher degree of heartiness is under suspicion as
we don’t trust it (Basinskii, 2000).
We argue that literocentrism can be
viewed not only as a property of reading /
interpreting a text but a characteristic feature of a
contemporary’s cognition of a non-textual reality
as a textual one. In this regard N. Ivanova, one
of the most authoritative liberal critics who tends
to understand herself, the world, and a field of
interpretation as a literary text, is literocentric.
While interviewed by M. Edelstein, she confesses
that she decodes people, playing certain roles
in politics and literature, as characters. Thus
literature and social life for her are an integral
text (Ivanova, 2006, 338).
Liberal critics’ literocentrism is, to our
mind, a feature of a modern reader’s catastrophic
thinking, aiming at search / reading for the
answers in literature (See (Miesen, 2003) about
reading as a planned act).
Being a phenomenon that washes out the
total / totalitarian / authoritarian on principal,
postmodernism is far from being naturally
related to literocentrism. Moreover, it develops
in its fight with literocentrism. At the same time
postmodern criticism can be comprehended as a
literocentric one.
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The concept of literocentrism is connected
with the concept of power, power of discourse.
That makes it possible to defi ne literocentrism
as a system of such status-and-role relations
between a writer and a reader when one
experiences either conscious or subconscious
symbolic compulsion via fictionally coded
patterns of the world-view, world-perception,
world-understanding, as well as via vectors
of values and behavior, and, consequently,
a symbolic subordination (understood as
perception of these patterns).
V. Kuritsyn, the most famous Russian
critic-postmodernist, is also literocentric while
arguing that content decoding in search for the
intention is worthless as it is a way of organizing
an utterance but not the plane of content (in which
there might be the totality) that serves the source
of intention (Kuritsyn, 1995). He doesn’t reflex
the phenomenon of the totality of form, context,
and strategies of postmodern text production.
The term of strategy applied to V. Kuritsyn’s
activity is very precise due to its conceptual idea
of process when the process of conceptualization
and text production is more important than the
result.
Prohibition against a writer’s authority as well
as translating and strengthening this knowledge
by a critic, or, in other words, prohibition against
the moment of intentionality is being formed in
postmodern criticism. However, the forms of
fight with the total are not limited to this. The
fight with the total acquires the feature of totality
itself, thus generating its own powerful intention
of necessity to resist uttered truth. Isn’t it a variant
of true knowledge?
In postmodern critics’ texts we face the
effect of speaking silence as a postmodern critic’s
silence is not informative but formative (Epstein,
2005). It forms such reader’s guidelines for the
text perception which activate independence,
individuality, and freedom of interpretation but
not the trust to the knowledge he / she gets in
ready imperatives. Isn’t it a literocentric project?
There are two acts in critical literary activity.
These are primary interpretation in the dialogue
with the text and secondary interpretation in the
form of a critical text. A postmodernist considers
the stage of text production to be the most
important one as it is here where fiction potency
aimed at the fight with the total is realized. As for
the first interpretation, it can be quite traditional,
and the guidelines, determining the literary
work’s understanding, can be quite literocentric.
This is proved by the critics’ slips of tongue, or by
discursively contradictory parts.
For example, in his comments “Mozhno bant
zaviazat’ – na zvezde” (“One can tie a bow – on
a star”) V. Kuritsyn regrets the young audience’s
preference of Igor Irten’ev to Aleksandr
Eremenko and destruction of former hierarchy
with Venedikt Erofeev and Aleksandr Eremenko
at the top (Kuritsyn, 1994). In his article “Velikie
mify i skromnye dekonstruktsii” (“Great myths
and modest deconstructions”), which is not a
postmodern one, he notes that great Russian
literature is spiritual and supported by truth as
it is some absolute sense, sense in general, light
and holiness on principal, some energy of truth,
Logos proper. It is an ideal, closed, and perfect
substance with absolute authority. The text doesn’t
not simply spawn the attitude to the “reality” or
some fragments of “reality”; it spawns the world
harmony – balance of sin, retribution and God’s
viewpoint (Kuritsyn, 1996).
According to anti-total guideline, in
postmodern criticism a subject of knowledge
turns out to be displaced. The mechanism of
production, potency of knowledge, which is
easily interchanged by a recipient’s function of
content production, takes its place. An alternative
literocentric pattern is created, all its main
components and segments functioning. These
are a recipient in the role of an author, a context,
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Yulia А. Govorukhina. Literocentrism of Modern Criticism
silence, gestures, pre-textual space which is
conceptualized, filled with meaning, and a total
energy gaining a powerful suggestive translating)
force.
The “new criticism of the noughties”
nomination contains a pretension to discovery
of a new generation of professional readers
going into a literary fight for “symbolic capital”
(M. Berg’s term). This discovery was announced
by R. Senchin, a Russian writer and critic, in
his anthology “Novaia russkaia kritika. Nulevye
gody” (“New Russian criticism. The noughties)
(New…, 2009). In his introduction to the articles
of the “young” he mentioned the otherness of
their critical thinking. New critics’ names are
entered on a list of the classics of critical literary
thought (N. Dobroliubov, N. Chernyshevskii,
D. Pisarev, V. Kozhinov, et al.). He states that
to say the least of it they lived within the period
of the golden age of critical literary thought that
could be probably compared with the 60-ties of
the XIX century, the 60-ties of the XX century
(New…, 2009). The 60-ties of the XIX and XX
centuries, mentioned by R. Senchin, are the time
of the peaks of literocentrism. Drawing parallels
with these periods is justified. According to the
author, a serious attitude to a work of literary
art, a wish to read books by the writers who
have become masters of minds again, a desire
to help people live with purpose are typical
characteristic features of a new generation of
critics (New…, 2009). М. Antonicheva in her
article “O tendentsioznosti v literaturnoi kritike”
(“On tendentiousness in literary criticism”)
repeats V. Belinsky’s words: “Criticism
should educate a reader who is its addressee”
(Antonicheva, 2006). The latter implies some
translated knowledge.
R. Senchin views literocentrism and
criticocentrism as a Russian reader’s mental need
and considers them to be a natural order of things.
In the situation of a lesser attention to a word a
“new” criticism regrets the lost, dreams and feels
nostalgic for ideal times when a writer’s word and
criticism will become authoritative.
Young criticism focuses upon the aspect
of suggestion, questions the issues of renewal
of mechanisms of non-imperative translation
of meaning. It is no coincidence that the word
“message” is often used in modern criticism. It
conveys the conceptual meanings of idea, piece
of news, sermon, and reference and, thus, is
focused on a recipient. The fact that most critical
texts, published by young critics, are retellings
of the plots with the emphasis on key points is
assignable.
Conclusion
At the turn of the ХХ-ХХI centuries an
elitist writer changed into an intellectual whose
task is neither educate nor prophesy. Literature
is conscious of incompleteness and infinity of
understanding, and, thus, the impossibility to
fully cognize objects and phenomena, give their
precise definitions, express them in words. In this
regard it is anti-literocentric. Nevertheless, literary
criticism has adjusted to this transformation
neither instrumentally nor gnoseologically,
although it has stated this. The reasons for
“lagging behind” could be the following ones.
Inertia of perception of literature as
something greater than only literature, as sermon
and teaching, something that postmodernism
failed to completely destroy.
Nostalgia for the soviet past which was
topical in the 1990-s and is important nowadays.
The feeling of time in meta-criticism of these days
is the following: the present is crisis, the future is
unpromising. Under such circumstances critical
vision is focused upon the soviet past, associated
with the lost authoritative status. Recall of former
merits can be defined as one as the forms of
nostalgia that enables to ease the crisis of selfidentity.
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Literocentrism is supported by the nature of
literary criticism itself. Interpretation is an answer
to a question which is of current importance
for both a critic and a great number of readers,
a question which reflects the atmosphere of
time. Literature is meant to be capable of either
giving or provoking answers. Critical activity,
being a communicative act, is aimed at a reader.
This activity is pragmatically designed. Thus,
critical discourse can be regarded as influencing
consciousness. These features of criticism will
always support literocentrism in a varying degree.
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25. Wouter de Nooy (1999). A literary playground: Literary criticism and balance theory. Poetics,
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Литературоцентризм современной критики
Ю.А. Говорухина
Сибирский федеральный университет
Россия, 660041, Красноярск, пр. Свободный, 79
Статья доказывает тезис о литературоцентричности критического мышления современного
профессионального читателя, что противоречит традиционному восприятию литературной
ситуации конца ХХ – начала ХХI века как периода кризиса литературоцентризма. Материал
данной статьи – литературная критика либеральных и патриотических журналов,
постмодернистская критика, новая критика 2000-х годов. В каждой из них обнаруживаются
признаки литературоцентричности: установка на вычитывание в художественном тексте
актуальных ответов, истин, трансляция этих ответов читателю в виде моделей поведения/
мышления, авторитет классики и другие. На рубеже ХХ–ХХI веков элитарный писатель
превратился в интеллектуала, в задачу которого не входит учить и пророчествовать.
Литература, особенно поэзия, осознает незавершенность понимания. Но литературная
критика, констатируя это, не изменилась ни инструментально, ни гносеологически.
Ключевые слова: литературоцентризм, кризис литературоцентризма, литературная
критика, либеральные и патриотические журналы/критика, постмодернистская критика.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 824-833
~~~
УДК 82
Literature and Gloss:
Substitution or Merging of Discourses?
Natalia S. Tsvetova*
St. Petersburg State University
26 1-st. line, St. Petersburg, 199053, Russia
Received 21.02.2014, received in revised form 08.04.2014, accepted 21.04.2014
In the article we examine the interaction of two discourses: the discourse of literature and the discourse
of media. For the author of the work, discourse is a situationally, intentionally determined collection
of thematically related texts. Discursive characteristics of literary texts are defined by the aesthetic
function of the literary text, which specifies the figurative form of the author’s view on the world and
the man. The “glossy” discourse is formed due to publications dedicated to leisure and private life,
which are presented to mass audience.
Russian national cultural and social space was considered to be literocentric. Today they say that this
quality has been lost, the place of literature is occupied by media production. Why? The main reason
is that “glossy” products meet the needs of the mass audience for shocking frankness, create the image
of a successful person, in contrast to literature, which is bewildered by the complexity and pace of
modern life.
But this does not mean that literature pays no attention to the public discourse. With the advent of
the magazine “Russian Pioneer” we can say that the literary discourse is diving into the depths of
social existence, acquiring new qualities. Such periods have already taken place in the history of
Russian literature. Historical analogies give hope for the return of the reader’s interest to literary
works.
Keywords: literature, media, discourse, gloss, text, author.
Introduction
to the Research Problem
Today the problem of degradation of
literocentric (by its very nature) Russian cultural
and social space is among the most discussed ones.
The media discourse is perceived as a certain
opposition in its relation to art (fine arts, theater,
cinema and literature). “Gloss” claims to hold
the core position in the media discourse as “an
environment hostile to literature” with “severely
restricted”, “text space”; blurred parameters of
*
quality; with a very brief “periodic cycle” (Ageev,
2001, 11). It is clear that a solution to the task of
a comprehensive system description for such a
vast and complex opposition, or not unambiguous
interaction can be found only with the help of
an interdisciplinary field of knowledge, at the
junction of philology, sociology, psychology,
journalism theory, literary semiotics and media
linguistics. We have not set such an ambitious
goal for ourselves, so we claim only to formulate
the statement of the problem.
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: cvetova@mail.ru
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Theoretical Grounds
One of the most popular textbooks by Yu.
E. Prokhorov is a book devoted to the problems
of trans-linguistics, linguistics of a coherent
text, discourse studies. The book opens with an
ironic epigraph, which has a direct relation to the
subject of our concern: “In the beginning was the
Word. And it was good. Then from the Words
Texts emerged. Then the Discourse appeared. It
was necessary. Then Linguists came and messed
it all up” (Prokhorov, 2009, 9).
In recent years, the definitive opacity of the
term, which has become a general term in the
humanities, “exclusively multidimensional in
its functioning and multifactorial in its nature”
(Silantiev, 2006, 30), is only growing. It needs
self-defining. Therefore, meeting this undeniable
need, we follow V.E. Cherniavskaya, and dare
to say that the discourse is nothing more than a
“specific communicative event, fixed in written
texts and spoken language, carried out in a certain
cognitive and typological conditioned space”
(Cherniavskaya, 2006, 77-78 ). This definition
was inspired by the German-Austrian school
of philology. For its supporters the discourse is
“texts in close connection with the situational
context: in conjunction with the social, cultural,
historical, ideological, psychological and other
factors, with the system-pragmatic and cognitive
purpose-settings of the author, interacting
with the addressee” (Cherniavskaya, 2006, 7778), i.e. discourse is a collection of meaningful
thematically correlated texts, which are imposed
by the situation and intentions.
We accept the above definition because from
our point of view, it allows us to consider one of
the key ideas of modern discourse studies, which a
few years ago was highlighted by I. Silantiev, who
claimed that “discourses of written culture are
simply not feasible beyond the textual beginning”
(Silantiev, 2006, 179). However, if under the
pressure of empirical material we recognize
text as the basic discursive structural unit, we
come across a number of problems. Therefore,
for an academically informed decision on the
delimitation of any literary and media discourse
it is not sufficient just to know the basic grounds
for distinguishing literary and non-literary texts
proposed by N.S. Valgina (presence / absence
of the aesthetic function, the type of connection
with reality, presence / absence of the subtext,
the setting to perceive the material as something
unique, etc.) (Valgina, 2004, 114). It is even more
difficult to provide attributes for texts of mass
literature upon which experts on mass media
look as their own private main, whereas literary
scholars that focus their attention on this speech
form of texts (with significant reservations, but
still) consider it to be their mind’s meadow. This
problem we are forced to put aside.
For us it is crucial that the accepted definition
implies the acceptance of the functional purpose of
the text as a unifying discourse beginning, which
makes the category of intentionality especially
important. This category is a key text-generating
category for media space (Duskaeva, 2004), and
the orientation towards the intentionality gives
it preferential opportunities while identifying
discursive features of “gloss”.
Discourse Characteristics
of Literature and “Glamour”
Representatives of the “hostile” journalistic
profession, with frantic energy winning public
space over writers, as if in retaliation for the
diminishing their “creative” dignity reproaches,
are pleased to come out with categorical statements
about the “death of literature”, which has now
become only a “sophisticated entertainment”,
because the modern consumer of a literary text is
a gourmet, a singular phenomenon (Kovtun, 2009,
276-295). TV shows, newspaper and magazine
interviews of celebrities on the art theme often
begin with vigorous assertions “Now when few
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people read ... “, “In our time, when literature has
lost ...”. Even the supposedly comforting message
of T. Moskvina that “currently in Russia there are
40,000 writers, who can optionally be published
in six hundred literary journals and qualify for
700 literary awards” (Moskvina, 2011, 102), loses
its meaning when one scathingly reminds about
the meager scale of our country, the circulation
of the Russian-speaking world, which being
powerfully supported by PR is sold slowly. To
understand the essence of what is happening,
one needs to at least mark a “front line”: who is
fighting whom and what is this war about?
We presume that the discourse characteristics
of literary texts are determined primarily by
their functional orientation. The constitutional
function of the literary text is the aesthetic one,
giving the shape of the author’s vision of the
world and human, directly related to the critical
provision on catharsis. In the nineteenth century
literature was recognized as “an implementation
in a graceful manner of modern consciousness,
modern thought about the meaning and purpose
of life, the ways of mankind, the eternal truths of
life ...” (Belinsky, 1955, 280). But time distance
and traditionalism of the motivation do not
make Belinsky’s viewpoint outdated, although
undeniably the literary discourse today has received
additional functional and technical capabilities
intensively evolving under the influence of the
Internet space. And, nevertheless, one of the
most popular contemporary novelists of St.
Petersburg A. Melikhov during the session of the
“round table” at the last Congress of MAPRYAL
(The International Association of Teachers of
Russian Language and Literature ), devoted to
the problems of contemporary literature, steadily
insisted: “Literature does not conquer with ideas,
but with its images” (Melikhov, 2013, 66-67).
Being defined by traditional poetics, “the
idea of integrity of a literary work and artistic
uniqueness and isolation of the language of
literature as a whole” (Silantiev, 2006, 33) is of
no less importance, when opposing literary and
“glossy” discourses, which is the second major
reason to deny the right of a “glossy” producer
to be a nominee for the high nomination of
“creator”. With sufficiently credible support of
writers until modern literature has developed
any other convincing futurological model of the
literary process, we have an opportunity to stay
at this conservative position.
Contrary to a popular belief, it is even more
difficult to form a framework concept of the
“gloss”, despite the fact that this nomination is
one of the most commonly used ones in modern
speech, and the phenomenon that lurks behind
this nomination in modern communicative
space is mythologized. The most well-known
means of mythologizing “gloss” is a film by
A. Konchalovsky (“Gloss”, 2007), a novel by
A. Krasnyaschikh “Gloss” (Krasnyaschikh,
2013), and active editorial and journalistic activity
of A. Doletskaya, etc.
For an average consumer, “gloss” stands out
from the huge flow of media production primarily
because of its publishing characteristics: size,
volume numbers, printing features, nature of
illustration, and the initial cost of the “Magazine”.
All these features perform the function of
presentation, which is designed to form an idea
of “glossy” magazines as “prestige editions”.
In order to identify the basic characteristics of
discourse we shall turn to theorists of journalism,
many of whom treat “gloss” as popular media –
more entertainment than information addressed
to the less educated part of the population,
conquering the reader with its knowledge of
mass audience psychology, with its ability to
file information in a catchy way, with claims
for household or intellectual prestige (Media
System ... , 2001). If we move away from strictly
scientific characteristics of the “glossy” discourse
and turn to journalism, we will inevitably come
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to the conclusion that “gloss” is the result of
mimicry of media production, which steadily
demonstrates its intent to meet the inflated selfesteem of “mass audience”.
Summarizing the observations of experts,
we can draw several conclusions. First of all,
even while recognizing the existence of “niche”
publications (“for men”, “for women”, “for those
who are interested in sports”), we may consider
the following to be typological characteristics
of “glossy magazines”: first, it is the region
of distribution. “Gloss” is a transnational
phenomenon. Secondly, “gloss” as a rule is
established by editorial offices, publishing houses,
individuals. Third, the “glossy” audience, which
has been formed in Russia since around the mid
of the 19th century, is mass audience, despite the
fact that some “glossy magazines”, especially
“niche” ones, insist that they are “luxury lifestyle
magazines” (e.g. “Wallpaper”). “The term “mass”
refers to an impersonal cluster of atomized people
linked by external and purely formal ties. The
people of the mass are deprived of distinct national
characteristics, they are not related by a program,
but basically have a more or less similar system of
values: sluggishness, unreceptiveness, rejection
of everything that can overturn their cherished
concepts about the world” (Kupina et al, 2010, 11
-12) – modern researchers say so. The system of
values of “the person of the mass” is reflected not
only in the things belonging to him/her, but also
in the opportunities he/she uses to develop the
information space. These features often become
a good reason for the “construction” (the term of
V.I. Ilyin) of their own identity (see: R. Barthes,
Z. Bauman, J. Baudrillard, I. Wallerstein,
J-F. Lyotard, H. Marcuse, N. Chomsky,
E. Dotsenko, G. Gerasimov, A. Zinoviev, and
many others). Reading, consumption of the
“gloss” for the “person of the mass” is a prestigious
occupation. We shall repeat that even purely
technical, in a sense of adding potential aesthetics
to the consuming process, characteristics of this
type of publication are perceived as something
which confirms its prestige.
If we try to personalize, to pick a particular
recipient of the “gloss” out of the faceless
mass – it is “an easy reader” ( N.I. Klushina) or
“a hasty reader” (D. Bak). He (she) has certain
socio-demographic characteristics: age (young),
location (city), socio-professional (junior level
managers), socio-cultural (lowest-cost forms
of leisure activities promoted by the media), “a
low degree of political activity”, “a very average
level of income and corresponding quality of
the goods consumed, specific psychological
features of perception and learning of materials,
information interests associated with an average
level of intelligence” (Blokhin, 2004, 247). In its
key consumer characteristics the consumer of the
“gloss” is maximally close to the consumers of
mass culture: “a half-educated “new barbarian”
considering his (her) wishes and needs to be the
most significant, and his (her) concepts about
beauty and morality to be an absolute. Meanwhile
this young person does not belong to a specific
class. Rather, it is a socio-psychological type
of limited creativity, preferring to perceive
reality through the prism of complex clichés and
stereotypes, fantasies and illusions which help
him (her) to gain clarity and completeness of
vision. This person comes on the arena of history
at the turn of the nineteenth – twentieth century”
(Klushina, 2010, 23).
The subject environment of the “gloss” is
leisure activities and private life: love, health,
special interests, family, career, but just as
an opportunity to implement purely personal
attitudes, intentions. Scholars point out that
emotions of the “gloss” consumer are not caused
by the problematic part of those phenomena
that are associated with the individual interests
of these areas, but by a constant confi rmation
of well-known everyday attitudes, beliefs.
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J. Ortega y Gasset highlights: the mass
person “once and for all times sanctifies this
hodgepodge of truths, disconnected thoughts
and just verbal garbage that has accidentally
accumulated in his head (J. Ortega y Gasset,
2003, 62). The intentional characteristics of the
“gloss” correspond precisely to the interests
to this type of a consumer, ignoring the high
purpose of journalism to inform and educate.
The subject of speech, which has a set of specific
characteristics within the media discourse, as
the creator of the “gloss” rejects the role of an
analyst in the majority of cases in favor of a
sympathetic narrator or an ironist, working
on recreational activities. He captivates and
entertains, not just “steals” free time of the
reader, but prevents him from concentrating on
social issues, but helps to overcome a situation
of uncertainty, which a modern man constantly
faces, imitates satisfaction of his craving for
entertainment, in fact, controls the free time
which is recognized by the mass person as an
exceptional value.
Stylistics of “Glossy” Publications
The super-task of the type of the media
product we take interest in was updated in
relation to the Russian journalistic tradition; this
task affects the communicative settings of the
collective author, and, as a consequence, affects
the verbal concept of the publication. Thus,
the communicative task defines the use of new
communication tools, such as the clichéd aptitude
to sensations recorded in the system of lexical and
syntactic stereotypes as “automatic, unconscious
reflection of journalistic intentions” (Klushina,
2010, 162).
Formally, stereotypes of “glossy” texts
are associated with the purpose of scattered
flick-reading. Focusing on it, the creators of the
general magazine text resort to repeat-boxes,
functioning as rigid meta-text operators, not just
dissecting the text into meaningful segments,
but fi xing those text fragments that match the
expectations of the consumer – debunking of
former undisputed authority, higher truths in
favor of common beliefs and the nullity of things.
For example, in the February issue of “Sobaka.
RU” (2012) an interview with a descendant of
the Efremov theatrical dynasty, Nikita Efremov
was published with a box delivering an arrogant
claim of the young man: “I am still not very well
recognized, but I understand that sooner or later
it will happen”. This inserted extract has a photo
visually supporting it with an uncertain repeatimage: the young actor with a purple theater
curtain on the background emphasizing the
“hereditary “ profession stood in a pose that can
be read as unjustified, mediocre, and pretentious,
which in its turn should certainly attract the
reader. In the same issue, a commentary of
the famous wizard of paradox T. Moskvina is
published with the following inserted box: “Life
in California does not have any sense, it is of
no use to anyone there. There life is enjoyment”
(Sobaka.RU, 2012). This inserted part “catches”
the mass reader with an axiological clichéstamp – pleasure.
The stereotypical content that provokes
emotions, which every man is deprived of in
everyday existence, is packaged primarily in
interviews and biographies. It is not a coincidence
that luminaries of discourse consider the first
genre to be text-forming in relation to the total
journal text (see the multilingual version of the
magazine “Interview” , “Biography”, Russian
Media Product “Caravan of Stories”). The genre
is being adapted to the discourse requirements.
One of the popular options of such adaptations
was suggested by I. Stogoff for a “low” kind of
the “gloss” – “glamour”: “When I started to work
as a journalist, I with some surprise discovered
the laws of the glamour interview. This is a very
special genre in which you must constantly dose
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disgust with delight... If a person started talking
about something beautiful, it is useful to tell the
reader that a volcanic pimple was throbbing on
his forehead, and vice versa, speaking of how he
is touchingly in love with his young wife, it is
useful to supplement this with information about
the time when he stopped masturbating” (Stogoff,
2006, 41).
Experts in media-linguistics have presented
the most significant style characteristics of
the “gloss”, the main of which, according to
N.I. Klushina, is a special stylistic tone, manifested
in colloquialism, inter-textuality, a certain amount
of irony and a language game. But irony is used in
this discourse primarily as a means of protection
against the complexity of life, and possibly as a
means of hiding that complexity. For example,
the introduction prefacing the interview with
P. Krusanov and S. Nosov, famous contemporary
novelists of St. Petersburg, in the above mentioned
issue of “Sobaka.RU”, is as follows: “In the cafe
“Mayak” (Lighthouse) at “Mayakovsky”, just like
in the eponymous metropolitan café remarkable
personalities gather together: poets, writers,
doctors and treasure hunters. Unlike Moscow,
not mozzarella and foie gras are for a snack
here, but herring with onions and boiled eggs.
Writers P. Krusanov and S. Nosov have recently
finished writing their books and stopped here for
a friendly drink, having a snack and sharing their
experience” (Sobaka.RU, 2012, 2, 52). No matter
what serious creative events, intentions, facts or
observations the writers or interviewees recalled
(the union of “Petersburg Fundamentalists”, their
traveling to the Himalayas, etc.) , the tone of the
interview, as one of the interviewees pointed
out, was “empty to supplication”, and even if the
author would like to change it, it would be very
difficult.
It is most important that the “gloss”, in
contrast to literature that has got bewildered by
the face of the complexity and pace of modern
life, have managed to guess the aspirations
of the addressee and offered stylistically
facilitated public dialogues about “one case” in
the popular tête-à-tête format. The “gloss” has
substituted the beloved confessions of many
literary texts of the second half of the century
by shocking frankness, it actively works on
the image of a successful person, which in the
modern media text is supported visually and
in plots (moving from one column to another).
For example, according to the Internet in the
version of A. Doletskaya, one of the “glossy”
discourse trendsetters, the image which is in
high demand by online audience, looks like this:
“likes good food, forest walks, live concerts
and books. Says that she is moved by love to
what she does”, “calls herself “a pathological
perfectionist”. Using the style of confession, the
editor of several popular “glossy” magazines
says: “I just go for a walk – put wear boots on
and gather fi rewood for the fi replace. I drink
vodka, I think two things are important. First –
aesthetic pleasure. The second – measure.
Then it is going to be “high vodka” < ... > A
huge joy for me is talking to my friends ... Now
it turns into an item of luxury ... everybody
has got work. I love rich people and I am very
proud of rich friends” (Doletskaya, 2013).
The associative fields supporting this very
defi nite behavioral type are formed by quite
authoritative in perception of mass audience
“dead metaphors” – epithet-adjectives elegant,
luxurious, stylish, in good shape.
The intentionality of the “gloss”, provoking
all these discursive features, is accepted and
welcomed by modern mass audience, in the
minds of which Russian literature by its very
definition cannot dominate, since it is genetically
related to Christian literature, to Ancient-Russian
book learning, not “word-useless”, not “evil”,
which performed significant social and political
functions.
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Causes of Degradation
of Literary Discourse
The true causes of the identified discursive
characteristics have not been studied, the true
causes of the observed phenomena, have not been
described, when trying to study them scholars
very often confuse causes and effects. Thus,
T. Moskvina believes that the changes in the
literary discourse are related to the disappearance
of a serious reader. D. Bak draws attention to
the fact that “literature is changing its nature,
becomes an item on a conveyor, becomes a part
of publishing (read: marketing – N. Tsvetova)
strategies”, “the writer ceased to be the “ruler
of the minds”, pathetic scraps left over from
the powerful in the past distribution system of
books and bookselling” (Bak, 2013, 4). Here we
may add qualitative changes of “paraliterature
services” – literature studies, which en masse
jumped to meta-language as a manipulative
means of justifying its professional success, and
literary criticism with its striving for the physical
survival and becoming a part of the multicomponent promotion process, the center of
which is a literary text as a publishing product.
Even more urgent is the conversation about
that today due to a number of reasons literature
has lost its most important guardian – the school
teacher. The Internet, producers of all sorts of
video products have become serious competitors
to the writer. New technologies of literary text
implementation and dissemination change
traditional attitudes towards the book.
The list of causes and effects is yet to be
understood by researchers, the list itself can be
greatly broadened. For example, we can talk
about today’s victory of media because literature
in recent years has been quite successfully
driven into recreational zones of the “gloss”. It is
known that the most popular “glossy” magazines
(“The Bear”, “Esquire”) invite “media” writers
on the pages of their magazines with literary
texts, moreover, they willingly publish literary
and historical-literary materials. Thus, the last
article about the famous “Leningrad villager”
F. Abramov was published in the magazine
“Bear” (the author – V. Novodvorskaya). It is clear
that by no means high interests and aspirations in
such cases determine intentions of the “glossy”
magazine’s collective author – the literary text
becomes a bait, a means to demonstrate the
“quality” of publishing.
A closer look at the modern media design
of public communication space makes it difficult
not to recognize sufficiently serious changes,
causing conflicting emotions and evaluation. For
example, in Russia “Russian Pioneer” is now
being published, edited by A. Kolesnikov. While
this magazine, using all modern technological
production and distribution capabilities, invites to
“celebration of life” habitual for mass-literature,
but it already has five literary columns (“Outside
reading”, “Under the Patronage”, “Pioneer Leader”,
“Writing”, “Poetry Lesson”). The cumulative
text slowly, but still takes the form of “a novel,
consisting of articles, pictures, advertisements”,
fragmented, but “with a clear, tangible, visible
plot” (Krasnyaschih, 2013). For example, the plot
of one of the “Russian Pioneer” issues (December
2011- January 2012) was formed by the unifying
force of the concept of “speed” from the literary
text by Nathan Dubovitsky “A Car and a Bicycle.
Or Simplification of Dublin [gaga saga]” key for
this issue. There is a concept extremely attractive
for the national consciousness, which belongs to
the associative field of “road”, in this magazine
issue was developed in the column of the chief
editor, who created a comprehensive metaphor,
which became the semantic center to attract a
large part of the publications of this issue.
Conclusion
It seems to us that after the “Russian pioneer”
we can say that literature does not disappear
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from the modern public communication
space, but the literary discourse, folding and
acquiring new qualities, is substituted by a
more aggressive opponent and goes into the
depths of social existence. Responding to the
question set in the title, we can say that today
the features of substitution of discourses
we are interested in are dominating. Let us
emphasize that this conclusion is valid only
in relation to the situation today. The point is
that A. Kolesnikov’s “Russian Pioneer” without
serious reservations is difficult to attribute to
the already familiar glamorous gloss “with its
curtsy to the literariness” (Krasnyaschih, 2013),
i.e. it can be hardly called “literary gloss”. The
dominance of really interesting and significant
works of art, literary taste in the magazine
and professionalism of its creators can still be
regarded as a basis for hope that over time,
contrary to the needs of the almighty market,
this publishing house will grow into a new
type of “literary illustrated magazine”, the
grading scale for which has not been formed yet.
Consequently, what has happened in the history
of culture many times before will happen again –
as a result of interaction of discourses that are
perceived as conflicting at a certain period of
time, one of them becomes ennobled.
Finally, hopes for the future are inspired
by direct historical analogies. Modern attack
on the essence of Russian literature reminds
us of our recent Soviet past, when they
tried to turn art into “administrative tools”
(the defi nition by V. Zakharov). Then great
literature in order to preserve itself also went
into almost uncontrollable depths of the state
system. Today, probably, the era of new plunge
begins converting the literary discourse into
the space beyond the control of the civilization
temptations, but still meeting the expectations
for renewing the space of high literature
existence.
References
1. A. Ageev (2001). Newspaper, Gloss, Internet. Writer in the Three Environments [Gazeta,
glyanets, Internet. Literator v trekh sredakh]. Moscow: New Literary Review. P.512.
2. D. Bak (2013). The Reader Now Hasty. On the Criticism, Poetry, Literary Process and Many
Others [Chitatel’ nynche toropliv. O kritike, poezii, litprotsesse mnogom drugom]// Literary Gazette.
2013. September 11-17. P. 4.
3. V.G. Belinsky (1955). Complete Works in 13 Volumes (1953-1959). – V. 7. USSR SA Publishing.
734 p.
4. I.N. Blokhin (2004). Sociological Studies of Audience and Media Market [Sotsiologicheskiye
issledovaniya auditorii i rynka SMI] // Sociology of Journalism. M.: Aspect Press, 320p.
5. N.S. Valgina (2004). Theory of Text [Teoriya teksta]. Moscow: Logos. 250p.
6. A. Doletskaya (2013). Snob. Beta. Available at: http://www.snob.ru/profile/5313 (accessed
10.10.2013).
7. L.R. Duskaeva (2004): The Dialogic Nature of Newspaper Speech Genres [Dialogicheskaya
priroda gazetnykh rechevykh zhanrov.]. Perm: Perm State University Publ. 276p.
8. A. Krasnyaschih (2013). Gloss // Russian Journal. Available at: http://www.russ.ru/pole
(accessed 10.10.2013).
9. N.I. Klushina (2010). Communication Stereotypes of Discursive Activity of the Modern
Journalist // A Game as a Means of Text-Generation [Kommunikativnyye stereotipy v diskursivnoy
deyatel’nosti sovremennogo zhurnalista // Igra kak priyem tekstoporozhdeniya]: a multi-author
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monograph / ed. by A.P. Skovorodnikov. Krasnoyarsk: Publishing House of Siberian Federal University.
Pp. 158-162.
10. N.V. Kovtun (2009). Actual Problems of Modern Literature //Verbal Communication: Siberian
Federal University specialized Herald [Aktual’nyye problemy sovremennoy literatury // Rechevoye
obshcheniye: spetsializirovannyy Vestnik SFU]: ed. by A.P. Skovorodnikov. issues 10-11. Krasnoyarsk:
SFU 2009. Pp. 276-295.
11. Round Table “Russian writers in understanding life in contemporary Russia”. Chronicle //
The World of the Russian Word [Kruglyy stol “Rossiyskiye pisateli v osmyslenii zhizni sovremennoy
Rossii”. Khronika // Mir russkogo slova.] 2013. № 1. Pp. 66-77.
12. N.A. Kupina, M.A. Litovskaya, N.A. Nikolina (2010). Mass Literature Today [Massovaya
literatura segodnya] M. Flinta Nauka. 424p.
13. T. Moskvina (2011). These are the non-readers [Takiye oni, ne-chitateli ]// Sobaka.RU. 2011.
May. Pp. 102.
14. Yu. E. Prokhorov (2004). Reality. Text. Discourse [Deystvitel’nost’. Tekst. Diskurs]. M. Flinta
Nauka. 224p.
15. H. Ortega y Gasset (2003).The Revolt of the Masses [Vosstaniye mass]. M: AST, Ermak.
272p.
16. I.V. Silantiev (2006). The Newspaper and the Novel. Rhetoric Discourse Confusions [Gazeta
i roman. Ritorika diskursnykh smesheniy.]. M: Languages of Slavic culture. 224p.
17. Media System of Russia [Sistema sredstv massovoy informatsii Rossii ]/ ed. by Y.N. Zasursky.
M: Aspect Press. 243p.
18. Sobaka.RU. 2012. № 2. P.4.
19. I. Stogoff (2006). Summer Reading // Billboard [ Letneye chteniye // Afisha]. 2006. June 26 –
July 9. P. 41.
20. V.E. Cherniavskaya (2006). The Discourse of Power and the Power of Discourse. Problems
of Speech Influence [ Diskurs vlasti i vlast’ diskursa. Problemy rechevogo vozdeystviya]. M. Flinta,
2006. 136 p.
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Литература и глянец:
совмещение или замещение дискурсов?
Н.С. Цветова
Санкт-Петербургский государственный университет
Россия, 199053, Санкт-Петербург, 1-линия, 26
В статье рассматривается взаимодействие двух дискурсов: дискурса литературы и
медийного. Дискурс для автора работы – ситуативно, интенционально обусловленная
совокупность тематически родственных текстов. Дискурсивные характеристики
литературных текстов определяются эстетической функцией литературного текста,
которая задает образную форму воплощения авторского видения мира и человека.
“Глянцевый” дискурс формируется изданиями транснациональными, обращенными к
массовой аудитории, посвященными досугу и приватной жизни.
Русское
национальное
культурное
и
социальное
пространство
считалось
литературоцентричным. Сегодня говорят, что это качество утрачивается, место
литературы занимает медийная продукция. Почему? Главная причина – “глянец”, в отличие
от растерявшейся перед сложностью и темпами современной жизни литературы, отвечает
потребности массовой аудитории в эпатажной откровенности, создает образ успешного
человека.
Но это не значит, что литература навсегда уходит из публичного дискурса. С появлением
журнала “Русский пионер” можно говорить о том, что литературный дискурс, сворачиваясь,
обретая новые качества, уходит в глубины общественного бытия. Такие периоды в истории
русской литературы уже были. Исторические аналогии дают надежду на возвращение
интереса читателей к литературному творчеству.
Ключевые слова: литература, медиа, дискурс, глянец, текст, автор.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 834-846
~~~
УДК 82.161.1=030
“Strong” Texts of Russian Culture
and Centers of Translation Attraction
Veronica A. Razumovskaya*
Siberian Federal University
79 Svobodny, Krasnoyarsk, 660041, Russia
Received 15.01.2014, received in revised form 31.01.2014, accepted 18.04.2014
The article is devoted to the emergence of the centers of translation attraction in the result of generation
of secondary translation texts by “strong” literary originals. The Russian original text of “Eugene
Onegin” and its foreign languages translations, which were created and published in 19-21st centuries,
are the research material of the article. The “strong” text is studied from the position of the concept
of literocentrism, which is of great importance for the Russian culture, and also by using the relatively
new category of translation multiplicity. The combination of literature and translation studies aspects
provides the complementary approach towards the under study problem.
Keywords: literary translation, center of translation attraction, literocentrism, Russian literature,
translation multiplicity, “Eugene Onegin”.
Introduction
Every national culture and, consequently,
every national literature has a body of key literary
texts, providing both: the preservation and further
development of its national literary and cultural
traditions and mutually beneficial cross-cultural
interaction and influence of different national
cultures and literary traditions. In some cases,
it is a set of literary texts that form the core of
a definite culture, which is a repository and a
transmitter of cultural information and, most
importantly, cultural memory – a special kind of
cultural information, characterized by an overindividual nature reflecting the most significant
past, common to a particular people, nation, or
even the majority of humanity (Assmann 1968).
The core texts contain basic information about
“their” cultures in a situation of intercultural
*
interaction and cultural exchange and this is what
makes it a literocentric culture. The concept of
literocentism is in general based on the culture`s
persistent gravity towards the literary and verbal
forms of self-representation (Kondakov 1992),
on an understanding of literature as a primary
storage for core values in a particular cultural
community (Lotman 1998), on a special status of
literary texts in the cultural space. Literocentrism
implies recognition of a particular high status
of literature in a definite national culture, an
indisputable power of the literary word.
Literocentrism of Russian Culture
and its Reflection in “Other” Texts
A bright example of a literocentric (“textcentric” by Yu.M. Lotman) culture is the Russian
one, although the literocentrism is typical not
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: veronica_raz@hotmail.com
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only for this culture but for other cultures around
the world in certain periods of their history
(Kondakov 2008). Literocentrism is traditionally
defined as a meta-historical feature of Russian
culture: the literocentric model was formed in a
particular information environment, determined
by a specific type of Russian mentality, by
peculiarities of the Russian character. Being a
unique phenomenon, literocentrism dominated
Russian culture for two centuries, from the time
of prosperity and the rule of literocentrism (time
space between Karamzin and Gorky) to its crisis
and decline. Considering dimensions of the crisis
of the Russian literocentrism, I.V. Kondakov
comes to an important conclusion that the stages
of the crisis reflect such a property of Russian
culture as cyclic recurrence (Kondakov 1994).
In various cycles of development of Russian
culture literary texts traditionally served and are
serving to the purpose of keeping Russian cultural
identity and implementation of intercultural
exchange between Russian and other cultures
of the world. Through the texts of A.S. Pushkin,
F.M. Dostoevsky, L.N. Tolstoy, A.P. Chekhov,
A.I. Solzhenitsyn and many other representatives
of the Russian classics “other” cultures try to learn
the “mysterious Russian soul”, to understand the
Russian mentality and Russian character, to get
acquainted with the peculiarities of Russian life,
to learn the unique phenomena of Russian culture
and Russian history in its significant events since
ancient times.
One of the possible evidences of the
inherent literocentrism of Russian culture is
a regular quoting of Russian literary texts in
texts of “other” cultures, which is reflected
in special reference publications. Thus, one
of the largest modern English dictionaries is
Oxford Dictionary of Quotations – ODQ: the
first edition was published in 1941 and the last
to date, the seventh – in 2009 (The Oxford
Dictionary 2009). The main dictionary contains
over 20,000 quotations from 3500 authors
belonging to different countries, cultures and
eras. In the seventh edition the Russian sources
are presented by 184 quotations from 49 authors.
Among the cited authors the vast majority (29
persons) are Russian writers. The dictionary
includes citations, the authorship of which
belongs to the famous Russian prose writers
(A.P. Chekhov, F.M. Dostoevsky, N.V. Gogol,
A.I. Solzhenitsyn, L.N. Tolstoy, and I.S. Turgenev)
and poets (A.A. Akhmatova, O.E. Mandelstam,
V.V. Mayakovsky, B.L. Pasternak, A.S. Pushkin,
S.A. Yesenin). Citations of Russian authors are
also represented by political and public figures
of Russia: Alexander II, Catherine the Great,
V.I. Lenin, J.V. Stalin, L.D. Trotsky, B.N. Yeltsin,
etc. The amount listed in the dictionary of
quotations from non-literary sources is two
times less than that of literary texts (15). Other
authors of the included in the edition quotations
were Russian scientists and people of art
(A.D. Sakharov, S.P. Diagilev, I.F. Stravinsky).
Thus, 75% of all the quotes with Russian cultural
origin in the dictionary were written by writers
and poets, which vividly shows the obvious
literocentrism of Russian culture (Urzhumova).
The analysis of portrayals of Russian culture
in another famous British lexicographical edition
(fourth edition of the Little Oxford Dictionary
of Quotations – LODQ 2008) also leads to the
conclusion about the features of the formation of
Russia’s image in the minds of educated English
speakers (Polubichenko 2010). And one of these
features will be a representation of Russian
culture predominantly through the Russian
literary texts.
In ODQ and LODQ quotes of Russian
culture are represented, of course, not in the
original form of the Russian language, they were
translated into the English version of the form,
which serves as a secondary source (translated
texts) of Russian literature.
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“Strong Texts”, Textual Grids
and Literary Translation
Russian literature has traditionally been in
a kind of cultural crossroads between East and
West, occupying a special place in the world’s
cultural and literary space. Russian literary texts
are involved into the intensive translation process
going “westwards” and “eastwards”, which
requires effective translation solutions aimed
at preserving cultural information and memory
of original texts in the translations created by
translators. Translation objectives and strategies
can be of general and of special character
depending on the cultural and typological features
of languages involved in the translation process.
I.V. Kondakov notes that one of the features of
Russian culture in the aspect of cross-cultural
interaction with the West and the East is a direct
or indirect reflection of this interaction in the texts
of Russian culture and literature, which “tend to
lead an intercultural dialogue, the interaction and
synthesis of various ethnic and cultural influences
and intentions” (Kondakov 2008: 5).
Literary texts that form the core of a
particular culture can be defi ned as “strong”
texts (Kuzmina 2009). N.A. Kuzmina points
out that “strong” texts are known to most native
speakers, and determine the canon of individual
and school-university education, characterized
by the embedded ability to be re-interpreted –
“translatability” into languages of other arts
(subject to “intersemiotic” translation by
R. Jakobson). If the concept of “strong” text was
proposed in context of the developed in modern
philology theory of intertextuality, when,
considering issues of literary translation, the
leader of “the manipulation school” A. Lefevere
among the objects of literary translation also
allocated a special type of such texts, which are
national and world cultural heritage (“cultural
capital” in terms of the scholar). According
to the American translation scholar culturally
significant literary texts are in the permanent
system of communication and interaction that
suggests the existence of a particular text
system-structural heterogeneous formation
formed by important national literary texts, and
by texts that are considered to world cultural
heritage. A. Lefevere argues that literary texts
characterized as cultural heritage, form textual
grids within certain cultures; these cultural
grids are located, according to the researcher,
regardless of language planes of cultures and
are preceded in a certain way to these planes.
With such features as required artificiality,
historicity, convention, variability and
incomprehensibility, textual grids are absorbed
by the carriers of the “own” culture to such
an extent that they are perceived as “natural”
(Bassnett, Lefevere 1998: 5).
The concept of “strong text” is comparable
with the concept of “absolute picture”. The term
“absolute picture” was proposed by representatives
of the Moscow conceptual school of art to denote
canvases, without which it is impossible to
imagine the history of art as a wide pan-European
or global culture phenomenon (“Mona Lisa” and
“The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci, “Sistine
Madonna” by Raphael), and within the individual
national cultures (“Trinity” by Andrei Rublev,
“Alyonushka” by Victor Vasnetsov, “Morning in
a Pine Forest” by Ivan Shishkin, “Bathing of a
Red Horse” by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin for Russian
culture). These “absolute pictures” with maximum
completeness and expressiveness accumulate the
collective conscious and collective unconscious
(Monastyrsky 1999). “Strong” texts have high
energy potential, have a large audience of readers.
It is believed that “strong” texts constantly give
their energy to readers and get the additional
energy from the readers, which is magnified due
to the emerging information resonance.
Arguing about the text and cultural grids
in the context of literary translation study,
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A. Lefevere claims that “strong” texts (the key
texts of a culture) are located at the nodes of
text and cultural grids, which provides stability
and persistence of cultures, a certain “rigidity”
of their structures. In this case, the recognition
of existence of these textual and cultural grids
is to a certain extent consonant to some fairly
recent concepts such as the language matrix of
a culture (Karasik 2013), the archetypal matrix
of a culture (Lubavin 2002), the value-normative
matrix (Zapesotsky 2013). The new concept of
cultural matrix and, in particular, the Russian
cultural matrix is also an “umbrella” term, which
probabilities and possibilities of existence today
is reflected by representatives of different areas
of knowledge (Arkhangelsky 2012).
“Strong” texts are the most regular objects
in a special field of translation studies – literary
translation. The category of “strong” texts ,
undoubtedly, includes such novels as “Crime
and Punishment” by F.M. Dostoevsky, “Eugene
Onegin” by A.S. Pushkin, “The Master and
Margarita” by M.A. Bulgakov, “Doctor Zhivago”
by B.L. Pasternak, “The Twelve Chairs” by
I. Il’f and E. Petrov and some other prosaic and
poetic literary texts of Russian culture. The
significance of literary texts for understanding
the Russian culture is difficult to overestimate.
So, M. Lipovetsky, referring to the origins of the
new literary thinking, writes: “Do not the Bible,
Homer, ‘The Divine Comedy’ or ‘Eugene Onegin’
embrace the whole world, each time making it in
a new way? And does not every true work build a
shaped model of the whole universe as a whole?”
(Lipovetsky).
The history of literary translation is a
convincing evidence that a culturally and
aesthetically significant literary text regularly
tends to self-recurrence and generates numerous
foreign-language (and often intersemiotic)
variants, creating extensive centers of translation
attraction. The translation center of attraction
has an obvious field structure. The literary
original text is the core-stimulus in the field of
translatability, which includes the central part
comprising all already created and existing actual
foreign-language translations. The peripheral
part is represented by translations, which
became irrelevant because of their obsolescence
or low quality. The potential part of the field of
translatability combines hypothetically possible
translations of the original text, which may
appear in the future. One cannot but agree with
Yu.M. Lotman that “strong” literary texts do
not only act as constant passive repositories of
information, because they are not warehouses but
generators (Lotman 1998); in its turn, the cultural
memory, presented in literary texts, is also not a
passive repository, making it an important part of
the text-shaping mechanism of a culture.
The ability of “strong” texts to be selfrecurrent is due to their information potential.
The aesthetic information, cultural information
and, above all, cultural memory shape the
content of a literary text: the content which is
un-detailed, un-manifested, indescribable, and
as a consequence – ambiguous. The information
ambiguity implies the decoding ambiguity of the
text content in the process of understanding and
creates unlimited possibilities for interpreting
of the current content in the perception of the
original text by “our” reader (reader belonging to
the original culture) and in decoding the text by
the translator in the translation process.
The Literary Original Text
and Literary Translation:
Issues of Translation Multiplicity
An original literary text is a complex
systemic structural formation with the
openness to imitation and the ability to be
continued in “our” and “their” linguocultures.
The “imitativeness” and “continuability” of a
literary text are due, above all, to its information
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ambiguity, which is one of the most important
characteristics of the mandatory information
of the artistic text and one of the categories
of literary translation. It is the ambiguity of
aesthetic information that generates numerous
interpretations of information of a certain literary
text within its own culture and language when the
literary texts are perceived by readers belonging
to the domestic language-culture. Ambiguity
underlies the basis of the categories, which have
recently expanded the categorical paradigm of
literary translation: original inexhaustibility and
translation multiplicity. The representatives of
Magadan translation school made a significant
contribution to the creation and development of
a theory of translation multiplicity. Arguing with
literary critic and translator Yu.D. Levin, who
defines multiplicity in translation as “the possible
existence in the national literature of several
translations of a foreign-language literary work,
which has one original, as a rule, embodiment of
the text” (Levin 1992: 213), R.R. Tchaikovsky did
not agree with the possibility of existence of several
literary translations of the original in the “current
national literature” and proposes to consider the
phenomenon of translation multiplicity in the
context of translated literature as an obvious fact
of the existence of a “third literature”, which
holds an intermediate position between the
foreign language literature and literature of the
target language (“domestic” literature). However,
different perspectives on the phenomenon of
translation multiplicity do not question such
important categorical attributes of literary
translation as derivativeness (secondariness),
synchronicity and diachronicity, inexhaustibility
of the original text. In the monograph “The
Inexhaustible Original: 100 Translations of
‘Panther’ by R.M. Rilke into 15 Languages”
R.R. Tchaikovsky and E.L. Lysenkova assert that
translation multiplicity as a multidimensional
phenomenon existing in both synchronic and
diachronic, and passive and active kinds and
types. The parameter of synchrony and diachrony
reflects the chronological aspect of sequence
of the existing foreign-language translations
of the original text, although it is obvious
that sometimes it is quite difficult to date the
appearance of translation. Objective difficulties
of dating the creation of a translated text may
occur if the original text and translated texts
appeared before the era of printing press, as well
as in the situation when the date of publication of
the translation is taken for the date of its creation.
Often the difficulty of dating of translation is due
to the lack of information about its translator. The
parameter of activity and passivity underscores the
importance of several translation variants in the
original translated literature, their simultaneous
active coexistence, or the activity of only one
translation in functional limitations and passivity
of the others. All the mentioned above allowed the
Magadan scholars to formulate ten postulates of
translation multiplicity (Tchaikovsky, Lysenkova
2001: 188-198).
Derivativeness is one of most important
features of a translator`s activity, which does not
depend on the type of a text to be translated. The
status of primary and secondary texts is defined by
the relationship of unidirectional derivativeness
established between them. However, it is
extremely important to admit the fact that there is
a unique relationship between the original literary
text and its translation. If the text to be translated
is non-literary, then the relationship of primary
and secondary texts are invariably progressive,
directed exclusively to the translation from the
original text; however, in the situation of literary
translation this relationship is more complex and
ambiguous. The leadership of a primary literary
text becomes less obvious and pronounced,
since the existence of the original text is directly
related to the emergence and success / failure of
functioning of its derivatives – secondary variants
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(foreign-language translations). Considering
derivativeness as an ontological property of
translation, N.M. Nesterova points at the possibility
to determine the history of translation study as the
history of relations between original texts and its
translation (Nesterova 2005). In a famous paper
by W. Benjamin “The Task of the Translator”
(with the title “Die Aufgabe des Ubersetzers” in
the original), published in 1923 as a preface to his
German translation of poems of Ch. Baudelaire,
and greatly influenced the theory of translation, a
scholar defended the original point of view on the
nature of the relationship between the original text
and its translation: the translation does not serve
the reader, and it independently exists by itself;
a translation provides growth for the original
text, and continues its life. In the article, which
became a program for action of many future
generations of translation scholars, W. Benjamin
writes: “In translation the original rises into a
higher and purer linguistic air” (Benjamin 2007:
75). A literary theorist J. Derrida also emphasizes
after W. Benjamin the relationship between the
literary original and its translation, talks about
the primacy of the copy (translation) over the
original and claims that this is the original that
needs to be translated, it wants to be translated,
“,,, the structure of the original is marked by a
requirement to be translated. < ... > The original
is the first debtor, the first petitioner, it begins by
lacking and by pleading for translation” (Derrida
1985: 227). Translation is a process of growth and
form of the original. “The life of the originals
attains in them <translations – V.R.> to its everrenewed latest and most abundant flowering”
(Benjamin 2007: 72). The dependence of the
original on its translation or translations is so
strong that researchers have come to the conclusion
of de-construction (according to J. Derrida) of
the binary opposition between the original and
its translation and the possibility of considering
translation as transgression, involving a difference
and repetition of G. Deleuze’s understanding
(Andreeva 2011). It is of ultimate importance that
the apologist of deconstruction sees “The Tower
of Babel” not only as a recognized way and figure
of an unrecoverable plurality of languages, but
also a symbol of incompleteness, impossibility to
complete the architectural design of the system
and architectonics, one of the species and which
will be the center of translation attraction: it
will never be fully completed up to the end, and
the number of translations will be permanently
changed.
Most vivid, clear evidence of the nature
of the relationship between the original and its
translation is presented in centers of translation
attraction. Undoubtedly, the most important
and numerous center of translation attraction is
generated by the Bible. According to the United
Bible Society on December 31st 2007 the Bible is
fully or partially translated into 2454 languages
of the world.
In 1932, the International Institute of
Intellectual Cooperation being a body of the
League of Nations founded the UNESCO
translation database (Index Translationum), which
is the world’s only international bibliographic
reference on translation. In 2012, the database
was 80 years old, indicating that it accumulated
huge volumes of information and is reliable. Index
Translationum includes about 2,000,000 entries
and over 250,000 authors, classified according to
common rules of transliteration. It is the world’s
working reference base, which became the result
of international cooperation between national
libraries in all fields of knowledge. On November
1st 2013 the most translated author in the world
was Agatha Christie (7232 records in the
database). The top list, which includes 50 mostly
translated authors, contains the following Russian
writers: V.I. Lenin (7th position, 3592 records),
F.M. Dostoevsky (16th, 2336), L.N. Tolstoy (23rd,
2161), A.P. Chekhov (42nd, 1456). According to
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the database Russian language holds 4th place in
the top 50 most translated languages in the world
(103041), behind English (1,263,025), French
(223575) and German (205970) languages.
The Original Text and Translations
of “Eugene Onegin”
as a Center of Translation Attraction
Works of Russian literature included in the
above lists, regularly act as text-attractors, core
fields of transferability of these texts. Now we
shall consider the translation center of attraction,
the core of which is the novel “Eugene Onegin” –
an undisputed national treasure of Russian culture.
The novel in verse is one of the most perfect and
unique creatures of A.S. Pushkin and certainly
one of the most difficult to convey in any foreign
language (Alekseev 1964). Translation difficulties
are caused by linguistic and cultural peculiarities
of Pushkin’s original, which were rightly pointed
out in the extensive comments of Yu.M. Lotman
(Lotman 1983) to the famous novel.
The poetry of Pushkin became known
beyond the borders of Russia during the life of the
author, and his creative legacy continues his life
in numerous translations into various languages.
The first mention of Pushkin’s name in the
foreign press refers to 1821. In 1823 in France and
Germany were published the first translations
of Pushkin’s works. Russian poet, translator
of German poetry and specialist in literature
V. Neustadt describes interesting data that during
the life of Pushkin in a relatively short period
from 1823 to 1836 appeared about 75 translations
of Pushkin’s works in 12 foreign languages:
German, French, Swedish, English, Polish, Italian,
Serbian, Czech, Moldovan, Ukrainian, Georgian,
Armenian (Neustadt 1937: 146). If we look at the
history of Pushkin’s translations heritage, one of
the pressing issues is the question of what kind of
Pushkin do foreign readers read in translation –
French, German, Polish, or may be Russian?
Adhering the idea of cultural grids of A. Lefevere,
we can assume that not all the translated literary
texts can occupy some significant place in the
grid of the translating culture.
A striking example is the historiography
of “Eugene Onegin`s” translations in French.
According to various bibliographic sources, there
are 17 French translations of the novel at present.
The first translation made by A. Dupont was
published in Paris and St. Petersburg in 1847. An
undoubted feature of the French translations of
“Eugene Onegin” (“Eugène Onéguine” in French)
is the fact that the first translations of the novel
into French were done by Russian translators. A
prominent place among the first translators of the
novel into French belongs to the translation by
I.S. Turgenev and L. Viardot (1863), which was
a major step in the assimilating the great Russian
poet`s work by the French culture (Izmailov 1974).
In 1884 Vladimir Mikhailov`s translation was
published in Paris. The text of “Eugene Onegin”
was translated into French by such masters of the
literary work as Eugène de Porry (fragments),
Gaston Pérot (1902), Maurice Colin (1980),
Louis Aragon (via Elsa Triolet), Nata Minor
(1990, received the Prix Nelly Sachs, given to
the best translation into French of poetry), JeanLouis Backès (1995) and Roger Legras (1994).
The poetic translations by Gaston Pérot and
Maurice Colin kept the original stanza, as well
as more recent poetic translations of Jean-Louis
Backès and Roger Legras were praised for their
poetic translation (especially in Russian-French
language pair) by E.G. Etkind. The following
translations became famous: translations by
Paul Béesau (1868), Albert de Villamarie (1904),
Serge Baguette (1946), Michel Bayat (1956),
André Meynieux (1962). One of the latest French
version of “Eugene Onegin” was published in
2005 (the translator Andrè Markovich) and is
considered to be one of the best by critics. In 2010
a translation of Charles Weinstein was published.
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In February 2013 in Paris at the linguistic forum
“Expolangues” was the presentation of translation
by Florian Vutev (a Bulgarian translator in his
origin), published in December 2012.
The first translations of Pushkin’s texts
into English appeared in 1824, and in 1827-1828
years the English public attention was drawn to
the published Russian text of “Eugene Onegin”.
During the life of A.S. Pushkin among Englishspeaking readers firmly established his reputation
not only as the best Russian poet, but as a national
poet. The first English translator of the novel
was a Lieutenant Colonel H. Spalding (Henry
Spalding “Eugene Onegin”, London: Macmillan
& Co., 1881). I.S. Turgenev (a translator of
“Eugene Onegin” in French, and the author of
a famous phrase about Pushkin`s translators
“There are brave people in the world!”) wrote
about this translation: “... I was allowed to read
a translation of “Onegin” made by the English
rhymes by some colonel, and the translation was
both: – of incredible and wonderful fidelity, – and
of amazing gracelessness” (Turgenev 1938: 158).
A.S. Pushkin was perceived by English readers
of the late 19th century as a modern popular poet.
In Pushkin`s translations readers were looking
for a “real” and “exotic” life of far-away-fromLondon-and-New-York Russia. Although even at
that time it was already known that A.S. Pushkin
was a Russian national poet who deserved a place
in the pantheon of world poets. English readers
and writers perceived Pushkin only in comparison
with Shakespeare or W. Scott and therefore called
him “Russian Byron” (Leighton 1999: 136).
Only in the 20th century the West developed a
deeper understanding of A.S. Pushkin`s creative
heritage.
The translation history of the novel
“Eugene Onegin” in English has more than
130 years: the first translation was published in
1881 (translator H. Spalding), the last known
to us translation appeared in 2011 (translator
M. Hobson). At the present time there are more
than forty English “Onegins”. One of the latest
translations of the novel was made by a professor
Stanley Mitchell (1932-2011) at the University of
London. The translation was published in 2008
by the publishing house Penguin Classics and
was praised by translators, linguists, literary
critics and readers. In 2013 the English version
of Pushkin’s text that was narrated for an audio
book by Stephen Fry – a famous British actor and
writer. Stephen Fry used for the narration the text
of translation by American scholar and translator
James E. Falen (1990). Currently we know about
the existence of more than 40 translations of the
novel into English. The translations have different
popularity, the literary form (poetic or prosaic),
completeness of the original text. So, among the
most famous translations are traditionally already
mentioned above translation by Spalding in 1881
(the first full-text English translation), translation
by V.V. Nabokov in 1964 and 1975 (with extensive
commentaries by the translator), translating
of W. Arndt in 1963 and its author’s edition of
1992 (was awarded Bollingen prize, above all, for
keeping the unique “Onegin” stanza).
The translations of K. Cahill and R. Clarke
are a prosaic English version of Pushkin’s poetic
original. In the translation corpus one can find
translations published in very small circulations
(K. Cahill), existing only in typewritten versions
(B. Simmons, M. Stone) or only Internet resources
(E. Bonver, A. Corré, A. Kline, D. Litoshick).
There are translations of individual chapters
or fragments of Pushkin’s text (K. Cahill,
D. Litoshick, E. Turner). Extremely important
is the fact that some translators have repeatedly
appealed to Pushkin’s text: W. Arndt (1963 and
1992), V.V. Nabokov (1962 and 1975), B. Deutsch
(1936, 1943 and 1964), Ch. Johnston (1977,
2003), S.N. Kozlov (1994, 1998), W. Liberson
(1975, 1987). With repeated appeals to the
poetic original the translators offered not only
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a new edition of their own translations, but
practically a new foreign language version. Two
translations made on the basis of translation
predecessors K. Cahill (based on the translation
of Nabokov), A. Briggs (based on the translation
of O. Elton). There are translations into English
done by Russian translators and published only
in Russia (S.A. Makourenkova, and S.N. Kozlov)
(Lee). The aim of this work is not to conduct a
comparative analysis of English “Eugene Onegin”
and its critical evaluation of the various using
various translation criteria. Among the English
translations there are undoubtedly translations
of varying quality. Some of these translations
were described by K.I. Chukovsky: “What to
say about the English translations of “Eugene
Onegin”? You read them and painfully go from
page to page watching this brilliantly laconic,
unmatched marvelous musical speech of one of
the greatest masters of the Russian language, to
be turned into a set of smooth, empty and trivial
phrases by translators” (Chukovsky 1988: 246).
However, we need to admit that the emergence
of numerous translations from one original draws
readers’ attention to the literary text, singling it
out of wide space of foreign cultural texts.
If in some European countries the first
translations of “Eugene Onegin” began to appear
in the 19th century, readers around the world had
an opportunity to meet the outstanding work of
Russian literature in relatively recent time. So,
“Eugene Onegin” in the Mongolian language was
first published in 1956 (translated by Ch. Chimid).
Chinese translations of the novel appeared in the
20th century and the history of their appearance
was directly dependent on the political situation
in China and educated Chinese interest in the
Russian language. The first translation was done
by Su Fu, and was published in 1942.
Two years later (1944) there was a translation
of Lu Ying. The translation of Ma Dan was
published in 1954, but thirty years later (1983)
the translator offers almost a new version of
the novel’s translation. Translations of “Eugene
Onegin” were performed by Wang Shisie (1981),
Wang Zhiliang (1985 and 2004), Feng Chun
(1982 and 1991), Ding Lu (1996), Liu Zunzi
(2002). The last known Chinese translations were
published in 2003: Gu Yunpu and Tian Guobin.
Currently, there are a number of translations
of “Eugene Onegin” in Japanese. The first two
Japanese “Onegins” simultaneously appeared in
1921 in Tokyo (translators Okagami Morimichi
and Yonekawa Masao). The best known novel’s
Japanese translations are the following: Kentaro
Ikeda (1962); Kaneko Yoshihiko (1972, reprint
1994); Shoichi Kimura (1972, 1998 and 2002
reissue); Katsu Kimura (1975, reprint 1991); Masao
Ozawa (1996). Most Japanese translations are in a
prosaic form and convey the form of work without
concern for poetic rhythm, which corresponds to
the translation of the Japanese tradition dating
back to the annotated translation of Chinese texts
kanbun kundoku. Only two Japanese translations
(Katsu Kimura, Masao Ozawa) are presented in
a poetic form. The first poetic translation into
Spanish of “Eugene Onegin” appeared in 2009
(translated by M. Chilikov) and demanded eight
years of painstaking work (almost as much time
as creating the original.)
A significant factor affecting the appearance of
foreign-language translation of “Eugene Onegin”
are celebrations of Pushkin`s anniversaries. Since
1937 (the year of the centenary of the poet’s
death) was an important step in the development
of a foreign language Pushkin. In England, the
USA, Australia, India, Singapore and Shanghai
112 academic publications devoted to the study
of creativity of Pushkin were published. In the
jubilee year 26 verse and prosaic translations of
works of Alexander Pushkin appeared (including
three English translations of “Eugene Onegin”
by O. Elton, B. Deutsch and D. Prall-Radin
together with D.Z. Patrick ) (Leighton 1999:
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135-139) . In Jerusalem, two “Eugene Onegin”
were published in Hebrew (the translators were
A. Levinson and A. Shlonsky). “Eugene Onegin”
translated by A. Shlonsky and his comments
later were reprinted several times. Scholars,
studying Pushkin`s works, unanimously consider
translations by A. Shlonsky to be classic because
he managed to accurately preserve the Pushkin`s
rhyme in Hebrew.
The historiography of German translations
of the novel is quite extensive. The first German
translation (“Jewgenij Onegin”) was made by
K.R. Lippert in 1840, turned out, according to
experts, to be unsuccessful. The translator did
not follow Onegin`s stanza, broke the lyrical
composition of the novel, made semantic errors
and “germanized” Pushkin’s text, turning Tatiana
into Johanna. But even the highly inaccurate
translation made a huge impression on the
Western European critics and readers (Neustadt
1937: 149). More successful was the translation
of F. Bodenshtedt in 1854. Later, there were
translations of M. Zeibert (1874), L. Blumenthal
(1878), A. Lupus (1899), T. Commichau (1916).
The best German translation is now considered
the translation by R.-D. Keil published in 1980
and in 1983 was awarded by a prize of German
Academy of Language and Poetry. This translation
is the twelfth full translation of Pushkin’s text into
German. Polish translation of “Eugene Onegin”,
published in Warsaw in the early 50s (translation
by – J. Tuwim and A. Ważyk) was praised by
critics and readers.
Conclusion
Thus, the center of translation attraction in
which “Eugene Onegin” by A.S. Pushkin, the
“strong” text of Russian literature and culture,
acts as its core part, clearly and convincingly
illustrates the phenomenon of literocentrism of
Russian culture. Numerous foreign-language
translations of Pushkin’s text created in 19-2021st centuries provide the “continuity” of the
culturally significant poetic original in time and
cultural spaces, and it serves as a guarantee of
its “persistence” and survival. Translation of
a “strong” text becomes a certain challenge, a
certain test of “our” culture by “other” cultures.
The given analysis of the translations of “Eugene
Onegin” was mostly limited to interlingual type
of literary translation (in the interpretation of
R. Jacobson). The examples of multilinguality,
polytextuality, polyvariety of the culturally
significant original can be significantly expanded
in the light of intersemiotic translation (opera,
ballet and theater performances, film adaptation
and duplication, sculpture, graphics), which
may be the subject of a separate investigation
and provide evidence of “power” of the “strong”
literary text.
References
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vv. // Vopros literatury ]. № 5. Pp.5-44.
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intertekstual’noy interpretatsii.]. Omsk: Omsk State University Press.
16. Lee, P. A.S. Pushkin, English Versions of Eugene Onegin // http://www-users.york.
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17. Leighton, L.G. (1999). Pushkin in the English-Speaking World // Bulletin of the Russian
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21. Lotman, Yu.M. (1998). The Structure of Literary Text // About Art [Struktura khudozhestvennogo
teksta // Ob iskusstve]. St. Petersburg: Iskusstvo. Pp. 14-285.
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26. Polubichenko, L.V. (2010). The Image of Russia in Oxford Dictionary of Quotations // Bulletin
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Veronica A. Razumovskaya. “Strong” Texts of Russian Culture and Centers of Translation Attraction
“Сильные” тексты русской культуры
и центры переводческой аттракции
В.А. Разумовская
Сибирский федеральный университет
Россия, 660041, Красноярск, пр. Свободный, 79
Статья посвящена вопросам возникновения центров переводческой аттракции в результате
генерирования вторичных переводческих текстов “сильными” художественными
оригиналами. Материалом настоящего исследования послужили русский оригинальный
текст “Евгения Онегина” и его иноязычные переводы, созданные и опубликованные в XIX–
XXI веках. “Сильный” текст рассматривается с позиций значимого для русской культуры
понятия литературоцентризма, а также с привлечением сравнительно новой категории
переводной множественности. Сочетание литературоведческого и переводоведческого
аспектов обеспечивает комплементарный подход к исследуемой проблеме.
Ключевые слова: художественный перевод, центр переводческой аттракции,
литературоцентризм, русская литература, переводная множественность, “Евгений
Онегин”.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 847-853
~~~
УДК 82-2:821.133.1(091)-792.2
The Reception of Sophocles’ Creation
in the Jean Anouilh’s Dramaturgy
Irina G. Prudius*
Moscow State Pedagogical University
1 M. Pirogovskaya, Moscow, 119991, Russia
Received 12.02.2014, received in revised form 11.03.2014, accepted 25.04.2014
The article deals with Jean Anouilh’s interpretation of Sophocles’ plot in the plays “Antigone”
(1944) and “Oedipus, or Lame King” (1978). In the unstable period of the 1940s, including the
Second World War, the writer appealed to the Sophocles’ creation in order to reveal the modern life
problems through his interpretation of Sophocles’ great tragedy “Antigone” for the first time. But
at the end of his dramatic career Anouilh appealed again to the creation of his great predecessor
to revive his favorite rebellious hero in the image of Oedipus. In the play “Oedipus, or Lame King”
the main character Oedipus proves the author’s faith in a strong personality who is able to resist
the world of compromise.
Keywords: dramaturgy, ancient tragedy, French literature, Sophocles, Anouilh Jean.
Introduction to the Research Problem
Theoretical Grounds
Sophocles was one of the most significant
ancient playwrights, who during his life gained
fame of the greatest poet and had significant
influence on the literature of modern times. The
playwright became an innovator in his ability to
describe the inner world of the character. “With
all the celebration of divine will in Sophocles, in
the foreground we see a human who seeks to act
independently, intelligently, while maintaining
the ability to be responsible for his deeds”
(Nicola, 1997, 265-269). The 20th century was
A typical feature of the 20th century drama
is modernization of mythological plots. The
reference to the myth becomes well justified,
because “history turns the world time into a
timeless world of the myth” (Meletinskii, 2000).
Meanwhile “a variety of its interpretations <...>
is proof of the text`s and culture`s integrity, the
author`s [commentator`s] affiliation with the
circle of masters” (Kovtun, 2012, 1343-1356).
Thus, the writers, when processing mythological
plots, revealed their own outlook on the world
and their attitude to the complex historical events
of the 20th century, and the myth was filled with
relevant content, losing its connection with the
epoch of its appearance.
Throughout his quite long creative life
Anouilh modernized two tragedies of Sophocles
full of historical and social cataclysms, and even
though the most significant tradition for writers of
that century was Euripides` tradition, the interest
to the legacy of Sophocles remains. And drama
works by a famous French writer Jean Anouilh
are clear evidence for this.
*
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: m-i-g@yandex.ru
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by creating his own “Antigone” (Antigone, 1944)
and “Oedipus, or Lame King” (Œdipe ou le Roi
boiteux, 1978). In this paper, for the first time
in the domestic literature we analyze these two
Anouilh`s plays in their unity and evolution from
the first text to the second.
Modernization of Sophocles` Antigone
in the Eponymous Play by Jean Anouilh
Anouilh appeals to antiquity in the unstable
period of the 1940s, including the time of the
Second World War. Scrutinizing Anouilh`s
creative life, L. Pronko rightly points out that the
period from 1941 to 1946 was the time when the
writer created some of his most important plays,
which depict “a heroic personality to clash with
the outer world” (Pronko, 1968). Indeed, the writer
used the image of fearless young maximalist
Antigone to express the spirit of resistance, which
was so familiar to the French during the Vichy
regime.
When creating Antigone Anouilh used
Sophocles` tragedy as his initial source, but
the characters, their life attitudes and language
are not consistent with the ancient prototypes.
The characters of Sophocles are always mature
characters, maximalists performing their duty
without any hesitation. Yet, for the writer of the
20th century an ambiguous personality was more
interesting, a personality torn apart by internal
contradictions. Thus, in contrast to the “entirely
shaped, completed in their minds” (Yarkho,
1988, 5-26) characters of Sophocles, Anouilh
psychologically creates unique characters who
have both advantages and disadvantages. They
are people of the 20th century, with their wellestablished sense of absurdity of existence (the
influence of the philosophy of existentialism
on Anouilh) and they understand the profound
tragedy of the reality around them. Unlike
Sophocles` characters, they do not make a hard
choice adamantly and proudly, but as the author`s
contemporaries they try to overcome inner doubts
and inner torment.
In Sophocles’ Antigone the main conflict is
embodied in the confrontation between different
life stances. This is unwavering will of King
Creon, who followed civil laws, and absolute
humanism of Antigone, who buried her brother.
In contrast to the shaped characters of Sophocles,
Anouilh depicts a hard struggle of his characters
with their own life experience, and here lies an
internal, dramatic content of the play.
Sophocles’ Antigone is proud that she is going
to give her life for the sake of the duty she fulfilled.
Although her struggle is vain in its essence, yet it
gives meaning to human existence, so the antique
audience admired the female character and felt
sympathy for her. Although Anouilh`s Antigone
is like her prototype, the same uncompromising
and proud character, but still, nevertheless she
is a child, a little ugly, “savage” girl, which “has
changed under the influence of her childhood,
<...> who is stubborn and persistent in achieving
her goals, but she does not do it so voluntarily”
(Luppé, 1959), as Sophocles’ Antigone. She is
“little Antigone”, – this is the way she is pleased
to call herself. She is “very little”, because she
remains “attached” to her past, whereas the
character of Sophocles, on the contrary, strives
for becoming a future ideal woman who fulfils her
human duty” (Luppé, 1959). Anouilh`s Antigone
is actually afraid of death, and realizing that such
an end is inevitable, still she “does not know what
she is dying for” (Anouilh, 2012). However, H.
Gignoux aptly remarked, that there is something
what always drives Anouilh`s favorite characters:
it is their desire to achieve the ideal – “childish
purity” (Gignoux, 1946). And this internal
rebellion arises from that – the only thing that
the cruel world cannot take away from the young
maximalists “is their way to rebel against the
world, against oneself, against what is called life”
(Vandromme, 1965).
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les questions jusqu’au bout. Jusqu’à ce qu’il ne reste
disillusioned with life, and adherence to the law
and conformity are costs of his profession.
vraiment plus la petite chance d’espoir vivante, la plus
Créon. Tu penses bien que je l’aurais fait enterrer,
petite chance d’espoir à étrangler. Nous sommes de
ton frère, ne fût-ce que pour l’hygiène! Mais pour que
ceux qui lui sautent dessus quand ils le rencontrent,
les brutes que je gouverne comprennent, il faut que
votre espoir, votre cher espoir, votre sale espoir!
cela pue le cadavre de Polynice dans toute la ville,
(Anouilh, 2012)
pendant un mois. (Anouilh, 2012)
Antigone. Nous sommes de ceux qui posent
Antigone. We are of the tribe that asks questions,
Creon. If it was up to me, I should have had
and we ask them to the bitter end. Until no tiniest
then bury brother long ago as a mere matter of public
chance of hope remains to be strangled by our hands.
hygiene. But if the featherheaded rabble I govern are
We are of the tribe that hates your filthy hope, your
to understand what’s what, the stench has got to fill the
docile, female hope; hope, your whore (Anouilh,
town for a month (Anouilh, 1947).
1947, 43 – we use the published translation of Lewis
Sophocles` Creon from the beginning
knows that he should certainly execute Antigone,
whereas Anouilh`s Theban king, tired of
pointless bloodshed, wishes to save his niece, so
the play has no longer the victim nor her cruel
executioner.
Galantière hereinafter).
We shall note that most of early Anouilh`s
female characters prepared him for his
Antigone, and for his later Joan of Arc (“The
Skylark”, 1953). Indeed, they are very similar
to Theresa Tarde (“The Savage”, 1934) and
Eurydice (“Eurydice”, 1942), who rebelled
against the dirty, in their view, human morality
and truth and chose hermit’s life (Theresa) or
death (Eurydice). And the Antigone has little in
common with the main character of Sophocles,
who is also proud, but is still dignified and
attentive to the voice of the gods. Anouilh`s
Antigone is a controversial girl of the 20th
century, a human, but disappointed in life,
which is much closer and more understandable
for modern audiences. “Antigone is a symbol of
unconditional, absolute passion and rebellion
of the pure-hearted demanding youth, which
rejects any compromise” (Tercero, 2002).
Just like with Sophocles` Antigone
here the main opponent is Creon, but in this
modernized Anouilh`s character the greatness
and intransigence of the ancient king almost
vanished. The playwright portrayed Creon as
a man for whom a choice in favor of the law
becomes very difficult to make. And he makes
this choice only to prevent others from violating
the steadfast rules. He is just a worker, who is also
Créon. Te faire mourir! Tu ne t’es pas regardée,
moineau! Tu es trop maigre. <…> Mais je t’aime bien
tout de même avec ton sale caractère. (Anouilh, 2012)
Creon. Hand you over to be killed. <...> But
the fact is, I have always been fond of you, stubborn
though you always were (Anouilh, 1947).
Sophocles` Antigone dies a hero. Anouilh
shows that the death of the innocent girl is
meaningless. In the tragedy of the French
playwright the conflict is the very problem of
human existence in the world. This is evidenced by
the playwright`s appeal to existential philosophy
and, consequently, to the problems of absurdity of
existence and freedom of choice. Knowing about
her predestined fate, Antigone does not want to
die and fights for her life. But the meaning of
life of Anouilh`s favorite characters is in this
seemingly meaningless death, which still allows
them to break free from the burden of everyday
existence, to receive long-awaited freedom and
to remain in memory of such people as Creon.
Although, of course, there is another morality in
the play: the two main characters are victims of
the absurd world, which is ruled by guards and
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nurses – mediocre people, for whom the highest
joy is to have a drink and play cards. Antigone
and Creon are trying hard to follow the chosen
path, but any of the paths turns out to be hopeless
and meaningless, because they are still equally
unhappy.
Such an ambiguous understanding of the
play was justified by events in the personal
life of the playwright. “Anouilh`s biography
proves that life and career of the writer became
interlinked from early 1940s, and much more
connected since 1950s” (Beugnot, 2007). In
the 1940s and 50s the writer faces problems in
both personal and professional spheres, and his
favorite characters start to change. Anouilh,
torn by internal contradictions in creating the
“right” character, draws heroes – conformists,
with whose philosophy he often agrees, but
fi nally these characters tend to die, because
of the evil things they have done in their life
(Ornifl from the eponymic play, Marie-Jeanne
from “The Cellar”, etc.). However, they did not
die heroically as Eurydice, Antigone or Medea,
but died because of an absurd accident, and their
death does not provoke much sympathy. The
turning point in the fate of the playwright was
the staging of the play on his script “Long live
Henry IV!”, which was directed by his second
wife – Nicole Anouilh. The joint project with his
wife was warmly received by critics, unlike the
plays written in the 1960s. It revived the writer`s
faith in himself. In 1978, Anouilh wrote the
drama “Oedipus, of Lame King”, where he recreated his uncompromising rebel hero with the
help of Oedipus.
Oedipus is a “responsible, administrative, ruler
with sincere concern for citizens` life, listening
to their opinions” (Nicola, 1997), and despite
the fact that he was defeated in the struggle
against fate, his image before the end of the
play remains magnificent. Oedipus is saved
by his “extraordinary endurance and ability to
withstand suffering” (Mitchell-Boyask, 2012,
158-163). Now Anouilh looks to the classical text
of Sophocles and practically does not deviate
from the original (as in “Antigone”), since he
wants to revive his beloved rebel hero similar
to Antigone or Joan of Arc. However Anouilh`s
Oedipus is not like the small Antigone, who does
not know what she dies for. This is a character
of a mature playwright, and Oedipus` choice
does not seem pointless, like the choice of his
daughter.
Interestingly, in 1944 Anouilh described
his future Oedipus` character in one of the lines
belonging to the young female character of
“Antigone”:
Antigone. Papa n’est devenu beau qu’après,
quand il a été bien sûr, enfin, qu’il avait tué son père,
que c’était bien avec sa mère qu’il avait couché, et
que rien, plus rien, ne pouvait le sauver. Alors, il s'est
calmé tout d'un coup, il a eu comme un sourire, et il
est devenu beau. C'était fini. Il n'a plus eu qu'à fermer
les yeux pour ne plus vous voir ! Ah ! vos têtes, vos
pauvres têtes de candidats au bonheur! C'est vous qui
êtes laids, même les plus beaux. <...> Vous avez des
têtes de cuisiniers! (Anouilh, 2012)
Antigone. But Father became beautiful. And
do you know when? At the very end. When all his
questions had been answered. When he could no longer
doubt that he had killed his own father; that he had
Idealistic Hero`s Revival
in J. Anouilh`s Drama “Oedipus,
or Lame King”
gone to bed with his own mother. When all hope was
gone, stamped out like a beetle. When it was absolutely
certain that nothing, nothing could save him. Then he
So, in his declining years Anouilh
reiterates to Sophocles` most famous tragedy
“Oedipus Rex” – “Lame King”. Sophocles`
was at peace; then he could smile, almost; then he
became beautiful... Whereas you! Ah, those faces of
yours, you candidates for election to happiness! It's
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you who are the ugly ones, even the handsomest of
Créon. II faut gratter son petit bonheur chaque
you. <...> The kitchen of politics: you look it and you
jour sans faire de bruit – danser pendant que la musique
smell of it (Anouilh, 1947).
joue, c'est tout.
Indeed, Oedipus, which appeared in 1978,
differs from the young Antigone of young
Anouilh (1944). Oedipus knows what for he
deprives himself of sight. His pride does not
allow him to accept what his destiny has done to
him. And in order to make descendants remember
him not only as a toy in the hands of gods, but
as a heroic personality, he invents a most painful
punishment, rather than a simple suicide, which
would have confirmed his weak will. Creon in
1944 told Antigone that she clearly has the selfpride and will of Oedipus.
V.N. Yarkho, Sophocles scholar, wrote that
the greatness of Sophocles` tragic hero consists
of the fact that “all of these steps of Oedipus
< ... > indicate his continued effort – despite
all obstacles – to the ultimate truth” (Yarkho,
1988, 5-26). Large and uncompromising
Anouilh`s Oedipus – until the very end, he
repeats: “I need to know”. Even when his
loving Jocasta begs him to leave the search for
truth, and to dedicate his life to her and the
children, Oedipus strongly denies it. “My poor
baby,” – says Anouilh`s Jocasta, highlighting
the childlike characteristic of the early favorite
Anouilh`s characters, which allowed them to
go against the whole world. Jocasta already
guessed that Oedipus – her son goes to the
palace to die with the words: “I am waiting
for you at home”, which once again underlines
the only place where Anouilh`s characters can
fi nd peace – the world of death, which they are
looking for.
Anouilh`s play closing is the only episode
where the playwright departs from the text of
his great predecessor, since till the very final
the writer almost exactly follows the story of
Sophocles’ tragedy. In the final a dialogue occurs
between Oedipus and Creon:
Œdipe. C’est ignoble.<...>
Créon. Il n'est pas décent d'étaler le malheur sur
la place publique.
Œdipe. Les hommes et les dieux ont droit au
spectacle.
Créon. Orgueilleux, orgueilleux encore.
Œdipe. Oui. C'est tout ce qu'il me reste. <...>
Créon. Qu'avez-vous donc à vous tenir si raides,
les Œdipes, les Antigones? (Anouilh, 2012)
Creon. Every day it is necessary to scrape a little
happiness without making noise – dance while the
music is playing, that’s all.
Oedipus. It’s disgusting. <...>
Creon. You mustn’t demonstrate your trouble to
the public review.
Oedipus. The men and the Gods must have their
show.
Creon. Proud, you are still proud ...
Oedipus. Yes. That’s all I have. <...>
Creon. How can you be so adamant, Oedipus,
Antigones ... (Here we use our translation of Anouilh`s
French text)
As can be seen, the image of Creon did
not change since “Antigone”, he is still the
same miserable supporter of conformists who
still dreams of becoming happy. Creon leaves
Oedipus and returns, as he says, “to order”.
Oedipus also predicts a great future for his
beloved daughter Antigone and goes with her to
tell their story to the world. The idea of absurd
fatality that haunts the best people, according to
Anouilh, goes all the way through the drama.
However, the writer reiterates that only a person
with a great destiny is entitled to meet great
misfortunes. Overcoming them, he towers over
the mediocre people of the world, and his life
becomes a legend, which means his spiritual
victory. Thus, the revival of Anouilh`s main
conflict – between a man in the street and a
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Irina G. Prudius. The Reception of Sophocles’ Creation in the Jean Anouilh’s Dramaturgy
rebel – in the play is resolved in favor of the
latter – Oedipus, who was originally destined to
have an extraordinary fate.
Conclusion
So, for Anouilh “Antigone” was his play,
where he asserted the idea of meaninglessness
existence of a heroic personality in the world,
whereas in his drama “Oedipus, or Lame
King”, the writer emphasizes the importance of
appearance of such a person. The fearless and
proud character, who nevertheless is doomed to
torment or death, yet he becomes the only way
to deal with the world of compromise. Absurd
seems to be no longer present in his opposition to
this world, but this opposition turns into a really
necessary riot, which should inspire Anouilh`s
contemporaries to defend their interests to the
very end.
Thus, despite the overt pessimism of his later
works, the playwright does not lose faith in the
ideal human, who is able to withstand the world
of mediocre people. In his latest play, “Thomas
More, ou I’Homme Libre” (1987), which Anouilh
wrote almost for 15 years, he re-introduced his
favorite hero, who was able to say “NO” to the
world and to accept death, thereby to immortalize
his own image.
References
1. N. V. Kovtun (2012), Gnostic Code in the Novel by L. Ulitskaya “Medea and Her Children”.
Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences, 9 (5), 1343-1356.
2. E.M. Meletinskii (2000), Poetics of Myth. Moscow: “Eastern Literature Press or RAS”
[Poetika mifa. Moskva: Izdatel’skaya firma “Vostochnaya literatura RAN”]. 407p.
3. M.I. Nicola (1997), Sophocles. Foreign Writers: bio-bibliographical dictionary [Zarubezhnyye
pisateli: biobibliograficheskiy slovar’]: 2 parts. Part 2.: M-Ya. Moscow: Education. Pp. 265-269.
4. V.N. Yarkho (1988), Sophocles and his Tragedies. Sophocles. Tragedy. Moscow: Artistic
Literature, 5-26 [Sofokl i yego tragedii. Sofokl. Tragedii. Moskva: Khudozhestvennaya literatura].
5. J. Anouilh (2012). Antigone. Paris: La table ronde. 128 p.
6. J. Anouilh (2012). Œdipe ou le Roi boiteux. Paris: La table ronde. 96 p.
7. Anouilh J. (1947). Antigone. Tran. Adapted and translated by Lewis Galantière. New York:
Samuel French. 52 p.
8. B. Beugnot (2007). Introduction // Anouilh J. Théâtre. T. I. Paris: Gallimard. 9-39.
9. H. Gignoux (1946). Jean Anouilh. Paris: Éditions du temps présent. 152 p.
10. R. Luppé (1959). Jean Anouilh. Paris: Edition universitaires. 122 p.
11. R. Mitchell-Boyask (2012). Sophocles and the Greek Tragic Tradition. American Journal of
Philology, 1(529), 158-163.
12. L. Pronko (1968). The world of Jean Anouilh. Los Angeles: University of California press.
263 p.
13. C. Tercero (2002). Antigone de Jean Anouilh. Paris: Éditions Nathan. 112 p.
14. P. Vandromme (1965). Jean Anouilh: Un auteur et ses personnages. Paris: Éditions de La
Table ronde. 253 p.
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Irina G. Prudius. The Reception of Sophocles’ Creation in the Jean Anouilh’s Dramaturgy
Рецепция творчества Софокла
в драматургии Ж. Ануя
И.Г. Прудиус
Московский педагогический
государственный университет
Россия, 119991, Москва, ул. М. Пироговская, 1
В статье рассматривается интерпретация сюжетов трагедий Софокла в пьесах
французского писателя Ж. Ануя “Antigoneа” (1944) и “Эдип, или Хромой царь” (1978).
В нестабильный период 1940-х гг., захвативший в том числе и Вторую мировую войну,
писатель впервые обратился к творчеству Софокла, чтобы через свою интерпретацию его
великой трагедии “Antigoneа” раскрыть проблемы современной ему жизни. Но и в конце своего
творческого пути Ануй вновь обращается к творчеству своего великого предшественника,
чтобы возродить любимого бунтующего героя в образе Эдипа, который доказывает веру
автора в сильную личность, способную противостоять миру компромисса.
Ключевые слова: драматургия, античная трагедия, французская литература, Софокл, Ануй
Жан.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 854-864
~~~
УДК 82’06
The Boundaries of Literariness:
Image of the World as a Book in the European Prose
of the late 20th Century
(through the example of the novel
by Christoph Ransmayr „The Last World” 1)
Natalia V. Kovtun*
Siberian Federal University
79 Svobodny, Krasnoyarsk, 660041, Russia
Received 08.12.2013, received in revised form 25.01.2014, accepted 15.04.2014
The article suggests the new treatment of contemporary European literature landmark texts, which
are traditionally assigned to the aesthetics of postmodernism: Ch. Ransmayr’s “The Last World”,
М. Grzimek’s “Shadowing”, P. Suskind’s “Perfume” and М. Kruger’s “Cellist”. It is proved that
aforementioned writings mark overcoming the deadlock of deconstruction, the beginning of the
absolute spirit search into the world-chaos. The most important issue of the research is whether it is
possible to embody the image of the ideal, remaining within the ludic aesthetics of the postmodernism.
And if it is possible, which artistic devices are used?
Emphasis in the research is put on the analysis of the novel by Austrian author, Christoph Ransmayr
“The Last World”, which is recognized the best among European prose works of the end of the 1980s.
The narrative basis of the novel includes the search and interpretation of mystified and confabulated
“The Metamorphoses” by Ovid and is represented as the Book of Genesis. The variants of rendition
of the famous text are understood as manners of external making, examination of the author’s selfawareness, an attempt of approximation to the truth. The chosen strategy of the research allows us
to educe the modes of the author’s self-reflection through images-masks, narration, mystification
of the world literature texts, the characters-storytellers themselves and the system of comments.
Characters-storytellers who offer different interpretations of the disappeared poem, implement their
own conception of the reality that requires further discussion and study.
The human history is preserved in people’s memory and consciousness due to the stories, which
authors rely on in their personal existential experience and experience of their predecessors, and
predict the future. The process of cognition is the process of reading, interpretation the previous texts
and creation of the new ones, that depart with the main thesis of postmodernism about self-enclosure
and structural integrity of a text. The mystery of the elusive time as well as heaven and hell, are
revealed to Ovid in the novel and he tries to share these secrets with his interlocutors. The process of
compassion and co-authorship brings us closer to the understanding of the metaphysical foundations
of being. The image of an Artist is functionally associated with the image of the Creator, and this fact
disputes the well-known thesis about the “death of the author”.
Keywords: European postmodernism, models of the author’s self-reflection, Ch. Ransmayr,
М. Grzimek, P. Suskind, М. Kruger.
*
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: nkovtun@mail.ru
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Introduction
to the research problem
Literocentrism is traditionally considered
as a hallmark of the Russian culture up to the
postmodern era, when the significant artists
started debunking the cult of literature as one of
the means of ideological influence (Govorukhina,
2010, 32-37). In Europe, the process of literature
displacement on the periphery of public life
began much earlier and it was connected with
the influence of popular art, new media and
the Internet (Berg, 2005). In addition, within
literature there was the critical review of the
problem of an author, a character, a reader and a
literary text itself.
Theoretical grounds
In this context the novel by Austrian writer
Ch. Ransmayr “The Last World” (“Die letzte
Welt”, 1988) is of an exceptional importance.
The novel is usually considered as an example
of the postmodernist aesthetics (Wilke, 1992;
Kiel, 1996; Gottwald, 1996). We aim to prove
that the novel, vice versa, is associated with the
search of the Absolute, but, at that, it retains
ludic poetics (Anisimov, 2010, 64-74). The key
issue in this research is the question about the
prospects of author’s reflection: deconstruction
or reconstruction of the ideal from chaos? “The
Last World” is dedicated to reflections about the
artist’s destiny, literature in history, as evidenced
by the choice of the genre: post-historical novel.
In this case a “commentator” or translator/copyist
who interprets the texts of other characters –
narrators, to whom an author subcontracts
rights, becomes the leading figure. Such heroes
are philologically oriented, engaged in the
research studies of their own and other authors’
texts, which is implemented as a process of selfcognition and self-determination in the present,
indicating of mistrust to the former absolutes and
reality itself.
Text as the evidence of history
in the novel by C. Ransmayr
“The Last World”
The plot of the novel comes to trying to
reconstruct the lost book by the disgraced Roman
poet Ovid – “The Metamorphosis”. The story line
develops as a process of reading, “translation” of
the destroyed manuscript’s fragments, writings
on stones, animal skins and cloth that motivates
introduction of the text of the Other. The famous
writing by Ovid is mythologized and mystified
and acts as Genesis that contains people’s
destinies.
The writing can also be considered as
the history of the Roman Empire in the era of
Octavianus Augustus that embodies all the
achievements of the Western civilization, and
as a mystical, special kind of reality which is
reconstructed by the texts and does not require
verification. It is perceived by a character-reader,
“a commentator” and, following him, a reader
of the novel. The secret follower of the exiled
poet – Cotta tries to unravel the teacher’s idea,
and in this way, his own work that is imposed
upon the text of “The Metamorphosis”, appears.
In the intertextual field of the novel the myths
of Antiquity and the Middle Ages as well as
their literary versions, represented by Ovid’s,
Dante’s, Kafka’s, Umberto Eco’s texts and the
texts by Ch. Ransmayr are intertwined (Fitz,
1998). “The Metamorphoses” that was created
in such a way, keeps the main idea of the author
about frailty of the earthly life, the relativity of
time, space and culture that is emphasized by
the epigraph from Ovid – “Nothing in the world
remains unchanged”, which is multiply repeated
in the text. The book, recreated by Cotta, is
understood by the writer as the evidence of
disappearing history: from “the golden age” until
“the iron age” that diverges with the aesthetics
of postmodernism, which recognizes text as the
only reality (Butov, 2003, 175-178). The present
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in the novel is elusive, time is like water and
sand, it absorbs everything and the problem
of mystification in this case is associated with
the problem of consciousness, which is capable
of comprehending texts, understanding the
creator’s idea, or provides them with its own
interpretation.
In opposition to the purely external, theatrical
life of Rome, the history of provincial Crimean
town of Tom where Ovid was exiled to was made.
The dwellers of the town were ore smelters,
adventurers and barbarians who tried to avoid
state regulation or punishment. The Iron Town is
“the sinister place”, but, according to the author,
it is here, where there are no laws, traditions and
authority, the freedom of self-determination is
acquired. In the settlement “at the edge of the
world”, amidst wilderness, mythological scenes,
displayed in the reliefs of Roman palaces are
acted out: “Tereus’ mask was a caricature, a
rough cartoon, but, nevertheless, resembled winderoded reliefs on the facades of Roman temples,
ministries and palaces and reminded the image of
the god of Sun in the chariot of fire” (Ransmayr,
2005, 65).
Ovid, who initially accepted all the terms of
the literary industry (he took part in advertising and
presentations of his works, intrigued and shocked
the audience), achieved mass success, but, at the
same time, experienced a deep disappointment in
the craft. Exaltation in the emperor’s eyes, as well
as celebrity in his opponents’ camp can also lead
to alienation from his own destiny, threaten him
conversion into a monument, canonization of the
texts, transformation of his house into a museum.
In the country of opposition Ovid’s texts are
said to influence the acts of protest and public
disorders. Resisting the predetermined fate, the
artist deliberately incurs disfavor of the power
structure, refusing to make a triumphant speech
to praise the Emperor, “In that evening Naso
went out and stood in front of a bunch of dimly
gleaming microphones and, by making this one
step, he left the Roman Empire behind, he did not
make, he forgot – ! – the strictly recommended
litany of addresses, to kneel in front of the
senators, generals and even the Emperor, who was
sitting under his canopy, he forgot about himself
and his happiness, and without the slightest hint
of a bow stood in front of the microphone and
said only “The citizens of Rome” (Ransmayr,
2005, 46-47). The act of disobedience marks the
freedom of the artist from society; he chooses
exile, the destiny of a nameless narrator, running,
according to J.L. Borges from the captivity of
“the infinite library of Babel”.
The master’s life journey is crowned by the
mountain trekking to the cave in the abandoned
miners’ village of Trahile that is simultaneously
the pass to Hades, guarded by the mythological
dog. The theme of the mountain trekking is one
of the key themes in Ch. Ransmayr’s works,
its semantics is defined by the victory over
time. In this case the logic of Ovid’s journey
acquires universal human and general cultural
characteristics, can be interpreted as a symbolic
journey into the depths of his own soul: Lost
Paradise, Hell and Purgatory that gains literary
connotations (Dante’s story). It is indicative
that Cotta, who follows the poet’s footsteps, is a
student of Dante Academy and his stay in Nazo’s
cave, excavated in the cliff, is equivalent to
symbolic death and accompanied by the funeral
lamentations of Pythagoras – Ovid’s servant:
“Cotta seemed that this muttering, both indistinct
and persistently penetrating from the top floor,
was intended for him. These were elegy’s stanzas
on his death. His bed was a hearse” (Ransmayr,
2005, 58).
In the image of the Iron City symbols of
different eras and cultures are connected (in the
1century BC cinema, printing, stadiums and
advertisement coexist; dissidents are persecuted,
crucified on crosses and killed in gas chambers) –
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here the dreams and myths come true, wonders are
done and there is no time. The image of the country
town embodies the interworld between the past
and the future, dreams and reality, life and death.
What is happening in Tomoi is a compendium of
the human history with an open ending, marked
by permanent apocalypse. History of the “recent
times” is written in the context of the ancient and
Christian cultures: from the theme of the flood,
unleashed on the mankind by Zeus, up to the
classic indications of The Revelation of St. John
the Divine – the city survived the earthquake, the
plague, the invasion of scorpions, water changed
its color, however, these events are among many
followed by other events. The end inevitably turns
into a new creation, the time of people-ants and
humans, who are made of mud as predicted in
Ovid’s speech, comes to replace the era of heroes.
New generations are distinguished by obedience,
silence, absence of passions and memory, the
necessity of which the poet mentions. The process
of degradation of humanity is associated not with
the loss of humanistic orientations, but alienation
of culture (e.g. language, according to J. Lacan)
from existence (meaning), what is demonstrated
in the history of Rome.
The travel to Tomoi, narrated according
to the initiation model (themes of temptation,
storms, the Ark, sleep/death and the symbolic
dog) is a search of the initial structures of
civilization. Scanty historical reality in the
novel is intensified by the storylines from
the disappeared poem as a kind of ideal force
capable to change human being, to correlate it
with the prehistoric times (initial meanings).
Pathos of the game (as a basis of culture in
general, according to J. Huizinga) of carnival
contradicts the idea of statehood, on which the
Empire of Augustus, conquered by entropy, is
based. Bearing evidence of inevitability of the
energy cycle and decline processes, the author
emphasizes the importance of personal insights
and existential texts that prove the reality where
everything is repeated ...
Cotta, trying to get to Tomoi with the same
ambitious goals that once were experienced by
Ovid, reveals dependence of his own destiny on
the found signs and the patches of the text that
absorbed philosophy of its author: “The fall of the
poet expelled him of the Roman protection, and
now he followed the exile. He was tired. He is
no longer strained after influence or honors. He
just did what he did” (Ransmayr, 2005, 119-120).
Connection between the poet, Pythagoras, Cotta
and inhabitants of the Iron City is carried out on
a mental level, bearing evidence of proximity of
people of different ages and at the same time of
creation of a new book in a reader’s mind. The
author gives detailed description of poor life of
the depth of the country’s inhabitants, twists and
turns of personal relationships, but each fate is
rooted in myth and reflected in another fate, what
is also featured in the names: Lycaon, Arachne,
Dith, Echo, Proserpine…
Great Mountain, at the foot of which Tomoi
nests, is a prototype of Olympus: “The name of
the massif crowned with snow, glittering outside
the broken windows, was also captured on flaps –
Olympus. Mighty, mightier than anything that
has ever been raised above the Black Sea, the
mountain casted its shadow on the shore of the
Iron City” (Ransmayr, 2005, 172). The poet,
who has risen above time and his own destiny,
becomes an authorized representative of the gods.
The mountain as an axis of the universe, around
which being is building up; it connects heaven,
space of the mortal and Hades. The image of the
mountain is duplicated by the symbols of ever
green mulberry at the entrance to Ovid’s cave,
the oak tree from the poet’s speech about the
birth of the ants’ race and Pythagoras’ pyramids
decorated with the fragments of the poet’s texts.
Silk that was used for the fi rst books writing,
was produced of mulberry. An image of winter
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mulberry, snow under which “had blue juice stains
from the fallen berries” echoes the picture of the
burned manuscript of “The Metamorphoses”,
“Pale, with black hands, Naso opened the door
of his study only after much persuasion: the blue
carpet as if with snow, was covered with ashes”
(Ransmayr, 2005, 23). Mulberry fruits symbolize
life path of a man from birth to death, mulberry
tree is considered an analogue of the Tree of Life
(Slovar’ Simvolov, 2003, 686). Invulnerability
of evergreen mulberry that outlived the flood,
the earthquake and destruction of civilizations
in the novel, provides the prospects to a creative
person, who is let into the secret of writing
(tradition).
In the Iron City witch doctors and tempters
of all times try their hands: from an ancient
storyteller to a Christian missionary and a midgetcinema operator. Their texts in varying degrees
correlate with the text of “The Metamorphoses”
recreated by Cotta. The image of the city – the
last ark, lost in the waters of history, is presented
by the author as an area of life amid the chaos
of disintegrated lines. Appearance of Jason’s
military frigate “Argo” on the shores of Tomoi
with the adventurers on board brings to mind
M. McLuhan’s analogy, who compared the
ranks of warriors grown from a dragon’s teeth,
with the letters of the alphabet: “The Greek
myth about the alphabet holds that Cadmus –
the king, who holds the merit of introduction
of the phonetic alphabet to Greece – had sown
the dragon’s teeth and when they tillered, the
armed warriors went out of them. Like any other
myths, this one succinctly summarizes continued
process in the instant flash of enlightenment. The
alphabet meant power, authority and control over
the military structures” (McLuhan, 2003, 94).
According to the philosopher, dictate of linear
writing over human consciousness turns into
the domination of didacticism and rationalism of
Western culture.
Foreseeing this danger, Ovid prefers the
spoken word to the written one. He retrieves the
stories literally from the material prima – fire, air
and stone. The stories passed from mouth to mouth,
got the status of rumors, embodied in real people’s
destinies, even being recorded by a servant, they
keep their fragmentarity, have an open ending and
inscribed in random places. “In Nazo’s answers
and stories Pythagoras inevitably found all his
thoughts and feelings and he believed that in this
coincidence he finally discovered the harmony
that is worth perpetuating; since that time he
no longer wrote on the sand, he began making
inscriptions everywhere he appeared, first, he
scrabbled only tables in the cellar at the innkeeper
with nails and a penknife, and then began writing
with potsherds on the walls and with chalk on
trees, and sometimes even on the sides of strayed
sheep and pigs” (Ransmayr, 2005, 154).
The sequence, in which the hero chooses
materials for records, reflects the stages of writing
formation: from rock paintings to parchment
and paper. History of sage Pythagoras, whose
works have not survived, creating a legend of the
scientist’s fundamental rejection of writing, which
distorts the meaning and gives ironic colours to
the poet’s fate. In Ovid’s texts the Ancient Greek
philosopher finds the traces of primary meaning
which, since that time, he tries to convey in a
picture, a gesture and a word. Seemingly sporadic
writings on stones, walls and scraps of cloth...
excite the imagination, require active co-creation
and solution, thus reuniting disintegrated times.
Mythologizing and eschatologization of history
that happens in this way has a purpose to confront
the coming power of entropy and void. According
to the remark by U. Wittstock, “The Last World”
is the only novel by Ch. Ransmayr, where except
natural history perspective, comparing to which
everything is perishable, there is also cultural and
historical dimension in which Ovid’s art remains
relevant for 2 000 years that in human scale is
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incomprehensible term (Wittstock, 2009, 122136).
Texts of the characters –
narrators in the novel
Cotta’s book, which is based on extracts
from the mythological poem by Ovid, allows
considering the heroes as two alter ego of the
author. The text, created within the sight of a
reader, at the same time includes stories, films,
writings on the scraps and walls of houses of the
authors of “alien texts”. Ovid’s image as a result
of interpretation of the fragments of his work and
the stories of other authors is highly controversial
and unfinished. Inclusion of the poet’s texts at the
level of narration does not order his image and
does not make the image easier to interpret, on
the contrary, the texts are like a maze and wild
bushes, where “a little man” Cotta wanders,
initially in captivity to formal ideas about the
great poet.
Burning the manuscript of “The
Metamorphoses” is Ovid’s escape from former
him (motif of lost paradise), auto-da-fe, followed
by an attempts to defend his own destiny, and to
find those – the Others – able to remember and
pass / play the fragments of the destroyed poem
with the hidden knowledge about the world in it:
“With all the speculations, the burning remained
as enigmatic as a reason for the exile. The
authorities kept silent or resorted to prate. And
as a manuscript that had long believed to be in
safe hands for all these years did not show up,
in Rome they gradually began to suspect that the
fire at Piazza del Moro was not a desperate act
or a fire sign but a mere destruction” (Ransmayr,
2005, 24). Cotta tries to unriddle the image of a
voluntary exile, arising from the poem passages.
Aiming to give “The Metamorphoses” its final
form, “the commentator” later abandons this
idea, collects scraps of cloth with inscribed lines
and stringing them arbitrarily, repeats Ovid’s
logic. The scraps represent the fragmented way
of interpretation of reality, the effect of a stopped
moment, when everyone addressing to them, can
position the writings in the proper order, to read
into them.
Texts of the Others are formed into several
books or cycles: about stones, birds, heroes,
people’s fates, the underworld, and, finally, about
creativity and poetry. Ovid found interlocutors,
untrusting the chosen ones only a part of his own
intentions, “Naso opened to every listener a special
window into the kingdom of his dreams, telling
everyone only those stories, what he/she wanted
or was able to hear” (Ransmayr, 2005, 124-125).
Each cycle is an attempt to reconstruct the events
that are at the basis of the universe, to detect the
traces of initial meanings, and, at the same time,
providing evidence of the accomplished fate of
the poet, its enduring significance.
The first book is dedicated to Echo the
beauty – Ovid’s confidante in his wanderings
through the mountains. The poet makes fires
everywhere, claiming that reads in the fire.
Stories about stones are combined here, saying
that after the flood, arranged by Zeus, they give
basis to new humankind. The motif of turning
into stone connects the rulers of the empire
embodied in the monuments with the image of
a petrified madman Battus and the first people –
barbarians. Demonstrative proximity of the king
and the jester goes back to the most ancient
archetype: “At the time of Roman Saturnalia a
slave was elected a king. Everybody obeyed him,
but he knew that at the end of the holiday he will
become a bloody sacrifice” (Panchenko , 2005,
37). “An emperor – a jester” parallel is unfolded
at all the text levels: from gestures, attributes
(Battus’ nettle wreath parodies a laurel wreath
of the Emperor) and postures (immobility of
August, who was watching at the rhinoceros and
the village madman, enchanted by reflections of
the Bishop) to speech (gabble or silence).
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Battus’ figure correlates with the images of
Ovid himself (the carnival mask of the character
copies Nazo’s traits) and Cotta, who monks
believe to be insane. The fate of the unfortunate
son of Rumors is a farcical reflection of the Poet’s
fate that expected him in official Rome: “And
Battus – a stone among many stones on the local
coast – had eventually taken place in a small shop
between the barrels of sauerkraut, snaths and jars
with caramel, black with coagulated pig’s blood,
shining from German ointments, towered in
the living world, like an idol smeared with the
sacrifices’ blood” (Ransmayr, 2005, 134). Cotta’s
endeavor to engage Echo’s heart, to possess her
is a symbolic attempt against the mystery of
the language, the poet’s voice that resulted in
tragedy.
Dumb weaver Arachne projects mythology
of the overworld in the patterns on carpets, and
wealth of colours and vividness of images “arose
in some Tomoi dwellers undercurrent melancholy
for the other world” (Ransmayr, 2005, 121). The
weaver, who sheltered Echo, found a friend in
the girl, the lover of stories-patterns, as Arachne
herself reads the stories in Ovid’s lips. Midgetcinema operator Cypress, followed by a beautiful
deer in his films demonstrates the myths about
the feats of the antique heroes: “Cypress, as in
the past, governed along the shore, depicting
whistling and confusing signs by the whip in
the air and loudly announcing the names of the
heroes and beautiful women: thus the midget
from afar proclaimed delight, pain, sorrow and all
the passions that in darkness of the next evenings
will flicker with his will on peeling white walls
of a slaughterhouse” (Ransmayr, 2005, 24).
Functionally, the midget is the same as Battus
(both are absorbed with the game of shadows) and
the exiled poet: “In this evening cinema operator
Cypress was leaving the iron city in the same
way as Naso once was leaving San Lorenzo and
Rome: through the lines of the curious, beaten by
the fate and with the characteristic absent look of
a person who knows that there is no way back”
(Ransmayr, 2005, 76). It is significant that Ovid’s
villa in Rome is hidden from prying eyes behind
“cypress and stone pines”.
The Book of Herbs, of underworld is
revealed to Dis, the German, “who was swept up
on these shores by the forgotten war”. The hero,
similar to Sisyphus, beats his own death and
was engaged to “nymphomaniac” Proserpina.
The features of mythological healer Asclepius
and his opponent Hades are ironically combined
in Dis’ image. The witch doctor in his speech
even uses quotations from Ovid’s writings,
acting as his mythologized counterpart: Ovid –
Zeus – Dis. Narration about people’s morals is
heard from the mouth of Rumors – a shopkeeper
in whose shop the poet rested before going to
the mountains. Shopkeeper’s son, who repeats
fragments from Ovid’s stories, functionally
coincides with Echo.
The most hidden, most inaccessible part of
“The Metamorphosis” are flaps with Pythagoras’
notes fortified in the pyramids on top of the
mountain, and menhirs on the stones, hidden
beneath slugs’ bodies. Notes on the stones are
devoted to the poet’s fate, who is finishing his
work, foreseeing his fate in centuries. The stones
themselves are witnesses and guardians of history
of the universe. Cotta managed to read a small
piece of the text – it is the only authentic quotation
from Ovid, which underlines its significance in
the novel:
Now I have completed my work, which neither Jove’s
anger
Nor fire nor sword nor ravenous time will be able to
destroy.
That day will come which has no claim to anything
But my body, and put an end to whatever days remain
to me.
Nevertheless I will be carried aloft beyond the distant
stars,
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Eternal, by what is better in me, and my name will
endure.
Wherever Roman might holds sway in lands subdued,
My words will be on people’s lips: throughout the
ages
I shall be read, and through all the centuries,
If prophets know aught of truth, my fame and I shall
live. (Ovid, 2000, 350).
Being of the characters-storytellers as
personalized doubles of Ovid is focused on
the process of narration, after which they are
disembodied (Echo, Cypress, Pythagoras),
turning into a stone or a bird. Their texts literally
float in the air.
The plot of reading. The Image
of Cotta the “Commentator”
Key for the novel image of a reader“commentator” Cotta outplays the author-creator’s
personal reflective viewpoint. The chosen hero is
the evidence of the crisis of authorship, the method
for the artist to check his own creativity. Passages
of the text given to other characters create a
situation of polyphony, dialogue of viewpoints,
interpretations and opinions, moral and aesthetic
verification of the decision taken by Ovid
happens, as well as his views on time, history and
man. The same issues of self-determination and
self being in the world that is changing before our
eyes are resolved after the master by the “little
man” Cotta, whose inner suffering and doubts are
subjected to thorough analysis. The poet’s image
is ironic and hermetic, it is made by viewpoints
and interpretations of the Others (the court in
Rome, inhabitants of the Iron City, the servant,
the “commentator”), who are often incongruous
with each other. The Interpreter, on the contrary,
is “self-revealing” character, endowed with voice,
biography, personal biases and insights. Ovid’s
and Cotto’s, writer’s and “commentator’s”, the
creator’s and the reader’s destinies are the most
important components of the author’s attitude.
The “commentator’s” image in the novel is
created by story-telling, narration of its history
and philological tastes, but it isn’t represented in
the original text. If the meaning-making function
is assigned to the character, the text-generating
function – to the author-creator.
Cotta proves Ovid’s poem, experiences the
described events as his own destiny, collects and
holds the fragments like a virtuoso-bookbinder.
It is no coincidence that he settled in the rope
maker’s house, mastering his craft; huge rolls
of leather belts in Lycaon’s trunk are prototypes
of ancient books. “The only catchy novelty in
Lycaon’s house were garland flags that Cotta
stretched far and wide in the workshop and the
covered terrace – these were rags taken from
the stone pyramids of Trahila and carefully
brought into the city threaded with hemp ropes”
(Ransmayr , 2005, 125). Hanging “garland flags”
with scraps of legends around the house, Cotta
turned it into the Book’s analogue. Emotional
and artistic experience of the reader-interpreter
that changed his perception of culture and history
influences the most important existential settings,
thereby radically changing personal destiny that
withdraws the text from the postmodernism
aesthetics.
Synthesis of the poet’s and the
“commentator’s” conciseness as well as the
creator’s of the text and the Other’s is complicated
by the fact that the author-narrator describes
mythologizing Ovid’s consciousness, progress of
characters in understanding their own destinies
and Cotta’s interpretive efforts from the position
of the late 20th century artist. The poet and the
“little man” succeeding him, the creator and
the interpreter-philologist are the two lines in
existence, two missions called to understanding,
preservation and transmission of the spiritual
experiences of people and its enrichment with
personal insights. The narrator is not only a scripter
of postmodernism, but a director, a mystifier, who
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externalizes the author’s consciousness, narrates
about the techniques and methods of writing and
the book industry that is subject to the laws of
mass culture. Each hero-alter ego has his/her own
line in being and a text (“The Metamorphoses” by
Ovid exist in Cotta’s interpretation), in relation
to Ch. Ransmayr’s novel they are the Others.
Narrative structure is based on the synthesis of
two realities: textual, metatextual and external
text reality, Ovid’s reality (primary) and Cotta’s
reality (secondary, created by reading). Such
a subject-character organization of writing
indicates a change in quality of the author’s
consciousness in contemporary prose, loss of the
right to absolute truth and relativisation of the
author’s consciousness (Gulius, 2004, 166-179).
Resume
Importance of the poetic word is recognized
in the novel absolutely. Contrasting linarities,
“monophonic” characteristics of writing
and reading poetic lines, J. Lacan indicates
polyphonism characteristic to the sounding of
discourse that seizes multiple contexts, witnessed
at the time of the message (Lacan, 1997). Not
accidentally A. Karelsky notes that “confident
power of Words and Talent reigns over the “last
world” and it leaves a feeling of a brilliant final
victory” (Karelsky, 1993, 5). Meaning his own
profession, Ch. Ransmayr calls himself not a
writer but a storyteller whose mission involves
“willingness not only to judge the world, but to
know it, stroll it over on foot, and if you want to
sail it, to search it, to swim it around and even to
suffer it” (Ransmayr, 2008, 231).
“The Last World” is finished by the mystical
scene – on the top of the mountain Cotta is
watching the poet who has returned from Hades
and is dictating another story to the servant:
“Looking into the fire of a small stove, Naso as
if was talking to the servant. Cotta recognized
the voice and intonation, however, he couldn’t
understand a word, he could only hear a knock of
blood in his temples and blasts of wind that tore
from the exile’s lips sentence by sentence and took
them away up the slopes. And Pythagoras’ hand
moved fast on a blue rag as if in a desperate haste
he definitely had to write these words before they
are gone with the wind. Time slowed its progress,
it stopped and went back to the past” (Ransmayr,
2005, 146). Poetic word in the novel determines
fates of the gods, people and the world as a whole,
time has no power over it, it binds human history
and fills it with meaning. The plots of the poem
are acted out in real life, reality is originated out
of poetry, it becomes a myth and returned to
poetry, understanding of its meanings reveals
the metaphysical essence of being “Construction
reality no longer required records”.
M. Grzimek works in the paradigm close
to Ch. Ransmayr’s, revealing simulative nature of
post-industrial world in his novel “Surveillance”
(1989), where the loss of the sense of being is
linked to the disembodiment of reality and its
absorption by simulacra. In this case creativity
is not supported by ontology and dies out as
unnecessary (an analogy to Augustus’ Rome
in the text by Ch. Ransmayr). Perfume by
P. Suskind of the same novel acts as a kind of
Ovid’s antithesis. The character does not strive to
defend his own destiny or the right to act, on the
contrary, he tries to create a work of art (a unique
aroma) from a variety of aromas, not correlating
his work with the personal world and experience.
Deprived of the unique style, but satisfying taste
needs of the mass audience, the aroma brings
death to its creator. And finally, composer George
from the novel by M. Kruger “Cellist” (2002) in
the tension of the search of meaning, genuine
to the art of post-industrial era is similar to the
character of “The Last World”. Genuine tragedy
of human existence with its disappointments,
death and social turmoil cannot abandon the
game strategies of contemporary art, on the
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contrary, it is the experience of tragic, the Others
are able to renew faith in the present and potential
to creativity. Thus, the late 20th century literature
is characterized by a keen search of the Absolute,
a hero capable to reveal initial meanings and
incarnate them in his/her creativity (Anisimov,
1
2007, 124-138). Basically, the main question of
an author at that time is possibility to reveal the
genuine in the language of art that assimilated the
game strategies of the postmodernism aesthetics
and was experiencing pressure of the market and
mass consumer tastes.
The research is made within the frameworks of DAAD’s programme training course (University of Jena, 2013).
References
1. Anisimov K.V. (2007) “Kolonizatsionny” Suzhet v Proze V.G. Rasputina i V.S. Makanina
// Tri Veka Russkoi Literaturi: Aktual’nie Aspekti Izucheniya. Issue. 16. Mir I Slovo V. Rasputina.
М; Irkutsk: Izd-vo Irkut. Un-ta, 2007. Pp. 124-138.
2. Anisimova, Е.Е. (2010) Igra Kak Mekhanism Porozhdeniya Smislov v Literature: Sluchai
V.A. Zhukovskogo // Igra Kak Priem Tekstoporozhdeniya. Kollektivnaya monograph. Pod red.
A.P. Skovorodnikova. Krasnoyarsk: Siberian Federal University. Pp. 64-74.
3. Berg, М. (2005) Literaturokratiya. Problema Prisvoeniya I Pereraspredeleniya Vlasti v
Literature. Moskva: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie. 352 p.
4. Butov, М. (2003) Vichniye L’di // Novyi Mir. 2003. № 7. 175-178.
5. Govorukhina, Y. Kritika Kak Literatura // Vestnik Chelyabinskogo Gosudarstvennogo
Universiteta. 2010. № 7 (188). 32-37.
6. Gulius, N. Suzhet Chteniya v Romane M.S. Kharitonova “Linii Sud’bi ili Sunduchok
Milashevicha” // Russkaya Literatura v 20 Veke: Imena, Problemi, Kul’turny Dialog. Issue 6. Formi
Samorefleksii Literaturi: Meteteksti I Metatekstovie Strukturi. Tomsk: TSU, 2004. 166-179.
7. Karelsky, A. (1993). O Ludiah i Kamniah, o Ludiah I Ptitsah // Ransmayr C. Posledny Mir.
Roman s Ovidievim Repertuarom / per. N. Fedorovoi. Moskva: Raduga. 3-7.
8. Lacan, J. (1997). Instantsiya Bukvi v Bessoznatel’nom, ili Sud’ba Razuma Posle Freida.
Moskva: Russkoe Fenemenologicheskoe Obshestvo. Logos. 184 p.
9. McLuhan, M. (2003). Ponimanie Media: Vneshnie Rasshireniya Cheloveka. Moskva:
Zhukovsky: “kANON-press-Ц”, “Kuchkovo pole”. 464 p.
10. Ovid. (2000). Metamorphosi. Kharkov: Folio; Moskva: “Izdatel’stvo AST”.
11. Panchenko, A. (2005). Ia Imigriroval v Drevnuu Rus’. SPb.: Izd-vo Zhurnala “Zvezda”. 544 p.
12. Ransmayr, C. (2005). Posledny Mir. Roman / per. N. Fedorovoi. Moskva: Eksmo. 288 p.
13. Ransmayr, C. (2008). Priznaniya Turista. Dopros // Inostrannaya literatura, 229-282.
14. Slovar’ Simvolov (2003). Moskva: Entsiklopediya. 288 p.
15. Kiel, M. (1996). Nexus: postmoderne Mythenbilder. Vexierbilder zwischen Spiel und Erkenntnis.
Mit einem Kommentar zu Christoph Ransmayrs “Die letzte Welt”. Frankfurt a. M., Berlin.
16. Gottwald, H. (1996). Mythos und Mythisches in der Gegenwartsliteratur. Studien zu Christoph
Ransmayr, Peter Handke, Botho Strauß, George Steiner, Patrick Roth und Robert Schneider. Stuttgart,
1996.
17. Fitz, А. (1998). “Wir blicken in ein ersonnenes Sehen”. Wirklichkeits- und Selbstkonstruktion
in zeitgenössischen Romanen. Sten Nadolny, Christoph Ransmayr, Ulrich Woelk. St. Ingbert.
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18. Wittstock, U. (2009). Zentrum und Peripherie: Christoph Ransmayr // Wittstock U. Nach der
Moderne. Essay zur deutschen Gegenwartsliteratur in zwoelf Kapiteln ueber elf Autoren. Goettingen:
Wallstein Verlag.
19. Wilke, S. (1992). Poetische Strukturen der Moderne. Zeitgenössische Literatur zwischen alter
und neuer Mythologie. Stuttgart.
Границы литературности:
образ мира как книги
в европейской прозе конца ХХ века
(на примере романа К. Рансмайра
“Последний мир”)
Н.В. Ковтун
Сибирский федеральный университет
Россия, 660041, Красноярск, пр. Свободный, 79
В статье предложена новая трактовка знаковых текстов современной европейской
литературы, традиционно относимых к эстетике постмодернизма: “Последний мир”
К.Рансмайра, “Слежка” М.Гржимека, “Парфюмер” П.Зюскинда, “Виолончелистка” М.Крюгера.
Доказывается, что названные произведения знаменуют выход из тупика деконструкции,
начало поиска Абсолюта в мире-хаосе. Важнейший вопрос статьи – возможно ли, оставаясь в
пределах игровой эстетики постмодернизма, воплотить образ идеального и, если возможно,
какими художественными средствами?
Акцент в исследовании сделан на анализе романа австрийского автора – Christoph Ransmayr
“Die letzte Welt”, признанного лучшим произведением европейской прозы конца 1980-х
годов. Сюжетную основу романа составляет поиск, интерпретация мистифицируемой
и мифологизируемой поэмы Овидия “Метаморфозы”, выступающей в роли Книги Бытия.
Варианты прочтения знаменитого текста понимаются нами как способы овнешнения,
проверки авторского самосознания, попытки приближения к истине. Избранный ракурс
исследования позволяет выявить формы авторской саморефлексии через образы-маски,
сюжетное повествование, мистификацию текстов мировой литературы, самих персонажейрассказчиков и систему комментариев к ним. Герои-повествователи, предлагающие различные
толкования исчезнувшей поэмы, реализуют собственное понимание действительности,
требующее дальнейшего обсуждения и проверки. Человеческая история сохраняется в
памяти, сознании людей благодаря рассказам, авторы которых опираются на собственный
экзистенциальный опыт и опыт предшественников, прогнозируют будущее. Процесс познания
суть процесс чтения, интерпретации прежних и создания новых текстов, что расходится
с основным тезисом постмодернизма о самозамкнутости, герметичности произведения.
Овидию в романе открывается тайна ускользающего времени, рая и ада, которую он пытается
донести до собеседников. Процесс сопереживания, сотворчества приближает к пониманию
метафизических основ бытия. Образ Художника функционально сопоставляется с образом
Творца, что оспаривает известный тезис о “смерти автора”.
Ключевые слова: европейский постмодернизм, формы авторской саморефлексии, К. Рансмайр,
М. Гржимек, П. Зюскинд, М. Крюгер.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 5 (2014 7) 865-904
~~~
УДК 113
The Universe as a Saturated Phenomenon:
The Concept of Creation of the World in View
of Modern Cosmology and Philosophy
Alexei V. Nesteruk*
University of Portsmouth,
Lion Gate Building, PORTSMOUTH, PO1 3HF, UK
Received 04.11.2013, received in revised form 12.12.2013, accepted 16.01.2014
In this paper we advance J.-L. Marion’s theory of saturated phenomena by applying it to cosmology,
namely to the notion of the universe as a whole, advocating that it must be considered as an aesthetical
rather than a rational idea. It is demonstrated that the excess of intuition of the universe over its
presentation in categories of the understanding places the universe as a whole in the range of saturated
phenomena. Thus, as a matter of a phenomenological return, it is asserted that it is the universe as a
whole, to the extent it cannot be comprehended by the intellect, that constitutes human subjectivity, so
that humanity acquires a status of microcosm in a very non-trivial sense. Since the universe a s a whole
correlates with the notion of creation in theology, it is argued that any approach to creation in the
natural attitude is impossible, for it involves the issue of that consciousness which articulates creation.
Creation enters the very facticity of consciousness through being formed by its saturating givenness.
Keywords: consciousness, cosmology, creation, events, experience, humanity, infinity, saturated
phenomenon, universe.
The saturated phenomenon refuses to let itself be looked at as an
object precisely because it appears with a multitude and indescribable
excess that suspends any effort at constitution. To define the saturated
phenomenon as a nonobjective or, more exactly, nonobectivizable,
object in no way indicates a refuge in the irrational or the arbitrary; this
definition refers to one of its distinctive properties: although exemplarily
visible, it nevertheless cannot be looked at.
Jean-Luc Marion, “The Saturated Phenomenon”, 209
Introduction: creation of the world
and creation of humanity
One of the tasks of the dialogue between
theology and science is to elucidate in the
modern scientific and philosophical context
*
the sense of what is meant by creation of the
world out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo). As
is often argued in current discussions on the
theme, the adequate theological appropriation
of the scientific approach to the study of the
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address: alexei.nesteruk@port.ac.uk
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natural universe is possible only if nature and
the universe are treated not as an “environment”
for physical and biological existence, but as
creation. This implies not only a dispassionate
study of the universe which is contingent upon
God, but also of the relationship between human
creatures with God through nature (Foltz 2011,
p. 108). Contrary to what Karl Barth wrote in
the fi rst half of the 20th century, namely that “
there can be no scientific problems, questions,
objections or aids in relation to what Holy
Scripture and the Christian Church understand
by the divine work of creation” (Barth 193677, p. ix), a contemporary interpretation of
what is meant by the creation of the world is
necessary in order to elucidate the modern
liberal consciousness of that which is constantly
quoted in biblical formulae related to creation
of the world (Pannenberg 2008, p. 25). First of
all this is related to the vision of the physical
universe, as created, in modern natural sciences,
cosmology in particular. Secondly it is related
to an appropriation of the notion of creation to
elucidate the sense of the human condition and
mystery of created personhood.
Since all contemporary discussions on
science and Christian theology refer to the
Divine, they imply the distinction between this
world (which is studied by science) and God, who
created this world and who is beyond this world.
Thus the issue arises of the relationship between
God and the world, and how to commune with
God, that is, in a way, to transcend the world. The
distinction between God and the world in theology
encodes the whole problem of creation of the
world as its contingent facticity.1 The discussion
between science and Christianity attempts to
establish the truth of propositions about actual
being either on the grounds of the world’s selfsufficient existence according to laws of nature,
or as being “rooted” in (or contingent upon) its
other, trans-worldly origin, which nevertheless
allows one to detect its traces in the world. Phrased
in a scientific manner, the latter would mean that
this world with its acting contingent laws must
have the foundation of their contingency in
some “other transworldly laws”, as an outcome
of the latter. Seen in this way, the question of
the facticity of the world would reduce to its
supposed inclusiveness in a wider “reality”, and it
is not important whether this reality is associated
with the Divine2, or with some trans-worldly
principle similar to the multiverse.3 However,
all attempts to describe creation encounter a
fundamental difficulty. Such a description can be
done in abstraction, when the very act of creation,
as well as that which is created, are presented as
objects. J.-L.Marion gives a fine qualification of
what is typical to those phenomena which are
called objects; he defines objects as those which
are poor in phenomenality: to constitute an
object means to loose a phenomenal autonomy
and spontaneity whish a thing manifests from
itself, that is from its event-like appearance.
The condition of objects is exactly deprivation
if this event-like manifestation and it reduction
to the rubrics of “I think”; the conditions of the
object can be described in four rubrics: quantity,
quality, relation and modality.4 But this entails
an imminent difficulty because creation and the
universe as a whole cannot be thought in these
rubrics, so that the natural attitude with respect
to the universe is impossible. Despite the fact that
we have already used the term “natural attitude”
many times before, it is worth to rearticulate it
here once again. The natural attitude is related to
the activity of consciousness and, according to
M. Natanson: “Within the natural attitude I act in
a world which is real, a world that existed before I
was born and which I think will continue to exist
after I die. This world is inhabited not only by
me, but also by my fellow men, who are human
beings with whom I can and do communicate
meaningfully. This world has familiar features
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which have been systematically described
through the genetic-causal categories of science.
The world of daily life is lived within this natural
attitude, and as long as things go along smoothly
and reasonably well, there arises no need to call
this attitude into question.” The reasonability
and wellness is related to the situation when the
question about the contingent facticity of that
which is going on around, including the facticity
of the whole world and the “I”, which makes
enquiries about it, does not arise. Then Natanson
continues: “But even if I do occasionally ask
whether some things “really real”, whether
the world is “really” as it appears to be, these
questions are still posed in such a way that they
are my questions about the natural world in
which I live. I do not really scrutinize my natural
attitude in any rigorous manner: I merely mark
off a bit of it for more careful study.” (Natanson
1959, p. 32). Since, as we argue in this chapter, the
natural attitude is not suitable for the description
of the relationship between God and the world,
as well, as between the whole creation and
humanity, the elucidation of these relationships
can be done only on the grounds of questioning
the very facticity of the natural attitude. Indeed,
when talking of creation, that one, who is talking,
implies its own creation and the limits of its
comprehension following from being created.
To represent creation mentally as “an object”
one needs to exit one’s own existence in order to
“look” at one’s own coming into being (as well as
coming into being of the world) from “outside”,
as if there were some antecedents to it. However,
as was argued by existential philosophers, as well
as modern phenomenologists, such an approach is
philosophically untenable, because it contradicts
the facticity of the given life as that originary fact
and event, from within whose horizon the whole
world order is unfolded, and whose non-originary
origin cannot be linguistically and mentally
located.
Thus the problem can be formulated: since the
exit from that which is supposed to be created is
impossible, how can one speculate about creation
with a reference to the trans-worldly, that is the
transcendent, remaining immanent to the created
world? Since in any philosophy that adopts the
a-priori given of the cognitive faculties, from
within which the phenomena are constituted,
the transcendence is deeply problematic and
hence religious experience of communion with
God cannot receive its exhaustive explication on
the level of reason. In spite of the fact that the
rationality of communion with God is different
in comparison with that one which pertains to
scientific research, the very actual facticity and
possibility of the dialogue between science and
theology demonstrates that they have a common
ground and their different rationality follows from
their belonging to the deeds of humanity. There is
a rationality which pertains to faith which has its
own reason, as well as there is a rationality which
pertains to the scientific quest, which is grounded
in hidden beliefs.
The rationality of theology implies that one
must know how to speak of God’s presence in the
world and to enquire into the sense of creation of
the world or of any particular human being. This
in turn implies existential transcendence, that is
a perception of commensurability with the whole
creation not in terms of space-time, but in terms
of one’s fundamental otherness with respect to the
rest of creation. Existential transcendence makes
devoid of sense all attempts to think of creatures
as overcoming and abandoning this world: this
is impossible not only because of consubstantial
corporeity, but also because, theologically, the
Earth is spiritually central, being humanity’s
flesh. Correspondingly all forms of thought of
the other worlds remain no more than mental
images, eidetic variations on the level of
intelligible forms, which are posed as the other
with respect to hypostatic subjectivity. These
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other worlds could mimic the creaturely reality
of the spiritual order. In this case the invocation
of other worlds is dangerous and soteriologically
futile and Christian theology warned against this
because we cannot understand the meaning and
purpose of other worlds in the conditions where
the meaning of our own physical world, because
of the Fall, remains obscure. 5
Then the question of creation of the world
becomes reduced in its content: one speaks not
about creation of the world in general, but about
creation of this world as its factual givenness
to humanity. Thus what is important is not a
“dynamic” of creation as its hermeneutics (be it
biblical or scientific), but understanding creation
as bringing humanity into this world, placing it
face to face with this world, so that humanity
could see God as present in the world. Speaking
of creation and creaturehood, one speaks of
knowledge of the creator, that is of theology, that
“consists not in the conjectures of man’s reason or
the results of critical research but in a statement
of the life into which man has been introduced
by the action of the Holy Spirit” (Sakharov 2002,
p.171). The issue of creation is thus not just the
question of creation of human beings in their
substantial similarity with this world, but in the
Divine image, capable of knowing God.
It is known that St. Athanasius the Great
noted that in spite of the fact that the Father
provided the works of creation as means by which
its Maker might be known it did not prevent men
from wallowing in error (Athanasius 1998, p. 39);
because of this the Word of God descended to
men in order to “renew the same teaching” (Ibid.,
p. 42). Since the Incarnation was initiated by the
Holy Spirit, who is not transparent in rubrics
of space and time, we can affirm again that the
theology of creation is a statement of the life into
which humanity has been introduced by the action
of the Holy Spirit in the image of the eternally
conceived incarnation of the Word of God. One
observes here a Christo-geocentric reduction of
the problem of creation because the Incarnation,
as an element of the Divine economy, implies
the existence of a universe where humanity is
possible, and hence the coming of the Son of God
in human flesh would be possible. In this case the
retaining of the transcendent in the created world
would be equivalent to retaining the dual nature
of the Word-Logos of God in the structures of the
physical world, that is a perception of the extended
space and time of the universe through the prism
of its relation to God as the creator and sustainer
of the universe.6 Being created by the Logos
and through the Logos, this world manifests the
spatial paradox of Christ, that is his presence in
space but not of space; his historical presence on
Earth which is equivalent to omnipresence devoid
of any spatio-temporal extension.
The createdness of the world, being the
otherness of God rooted in his love, means a
global, spatial and temporal, correlation and
correspondence between all places in the created
universe simply because this world is a “moment”
and “event” of the Divine love. Createdness of
the world must in this case not only point towards
some unique antecedent moment in the history of
the universe when “all was in all” and from which
all came to be. It must point towards the actual
omni-presence of the human insight, created in
the image of Christ himself, that is its presence
in all corners of the universe extended in space
and time. This would signify that retaining
of the transcendent in the immanent creation
which overcomes the physical representation of
the universe as being divided into multiple nonoverlapping causally disconnected segments, only
one of which is visible to us. The very intuition of
the universe as a whole, manifests an archetypical
trace of “all in all” in human consciousness when
the transcendent revealed itself in the immanent
without compromising its other-worldliness. The
intuition of the universe as a whole, that is as
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creation reveals that quality of the human reason
which positions itself in catholicity with all levels
of being7, that quality which originates in the
Divine image, that is in the archetype of Christ
himself. This quality of reason as its theological
commitment to the Divine image, is accentuated
through the teaching that human beings attempt
to understand the underlying sense of beings and
things not according to their “nature” (which is
disclosed in particular sciences) but according to
the final causes of these beings and things (that
is in a global, cosmological, context) in relation
to the place and goals of humanity, made in the
image of God, in creation. This is the reason
why humanity wants to recognise the universe as
creation not according to its nature (as happens
in cosmology) that is according to it compelling
empirical givenness, but as results of humanity’s
free will.
The very ambition of cosmology to be a
science of the created universe as a whole is
determined by the human capacity to transcend
empirical and astronomical facts and invoke
the idea of the wholeness of the world and the
universe. Human free will makes itself manifest
here through the desire to be commensurable with
the universe despite its physical impossibility.
The mental image of the whole created world is
de facto the manifestation of the willing activity
of humanity, and “knowledge” of the universe as
a whole is possible only as this willing. Since the
universe as a whole cannot become a matter of
investigation in the phenomenality of objects, all
cosmological attempts to grasp the sense of this
whole even if they have a complex mathematical
shape, still appear to be the urges of free will.
Modern cosmological models, or more
precisely, the metaphors of creation, including
models of the so called multiverse, hardly shed
any light on creation understood theologically.
All these models have a common feature, namely
they appeal to intelligible mathematical forms
which allegedly correspond to physical reality
detached from us by billions of years. It is clear,
however, that is spite of uncertainties in their
ontological status, these mathematical constructs
constitute a part of the created world, the world
of ideas or Platonic forms, which are far cry
from being trans-worldly in a theological sense.
Seen in this perspective, all cosmological models
assert only one thing: in its attempt to approach
the boundary of the physical world, human reason
inevitably appeals to the intelligible images
of this boundary, by building a characteristic
hermeneutics of the transition from the
intelligible to the physical, that which, by a sheer
philosophical mistake, is treated as a hermeneutic
of transcendence and the creation in an absolute
theological sense.8 However, in spite of all futility
to exercise such a transcendence in the limits of
scientific rationality, cosmological speculations
on the theme of creation turn out to be very useful
and contribute towards a perennial mythology of
creation. They manifest the infinite advance to
the mystery of creation, using notations of physics
and mathematics, understanding beforehand
that the sense of that which is signified by them
will never be exhausted. Being interpreted
phenomenologically, cosmological models deliver
us knowledge of how the human subjectivity
acts and structures itself when it approaches the
limiting questions of the sense and foundation of
its own existence.
The issue of creation becomes about the
contingent facticity of that which is given to
humanity in life. This facticity is stated in a
scientific quest, but it is never disclosed completely.
One has here a certain analogy with theology: the
Fathers of the Church taught that theology can
claim that God is, but it will never ever be able to
respond to the question “What is God?” Scientific
cosmology asserts that the universe as a whole is.
It endeavours to go even further and attempt to
respond to the question “What the universe as a
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whole is?” Any possible answer to this question
will be apophatic by default. The “name” of
the universe, its signifier and its “identity” will
always escape any attempt of its accomplished
definitions, leaving the enquirer with the same
unanswered and unanswerable question “Why
the universe is, and why it is as it is?” Sometimes
scientific cosmology expresses its hope that by
responding to the question “What?”, it will, in the
future, give a response to the question “Why?”
However this hope seems to be teleological, and
may be even eschatological. Teleological, because
it drives the scientific quest to the future (whereas
the goal of this quest is the supposedly existent
past of the universe from which everything “came
to be”). Eschatological, because it is linked to the
hope of humanity to acquire knowledge of the
unity of the universe as a mirror of knowledge
of “all in all” of humanity itself, that is of its lost
pre-lapserian unity.9
Creation in the natural attitude,
or how not to speak of creation
When Christian theology through the writings
of the Fathers and numerous commentaries
asserts that the world is created, that it came
out of nothing, that there was no world “before”
it came into being, it implies a psychological
frame of thought which treats creation of the
world in terms of temporality pertaining to this
world: to speak of creation one needs to have
an intuition of the distinction between “before”
and “after” (an intuition of temporal sequence)
which this temporality implies. The sense of the
words “the world came out of nothing” can only
be understood from within the human sense of
existence as existence in time. Correspondingly,
if creation of the world is represented in thought
as a “transition” from that something “when
there was no world” to the actual existence of
the world, this representation has a precarious
and hypothetical character in terms of possible
antecedent references, simply because the very
process of thought belongs to the already created
world and it is from this created modality of
intellection that one attempts to grasp the sense
of the created as the facticity of the world and
hence the facticity of thinking of the world.10
In spite of this last nearly obvious observation
theology, starting from the Fathers of the Church
and finishing with contemporary discussions on
the applicability of modern cosmological theories
to the riddle of creation, struggles to express
the problem of creation of the world in terms of
thought and speech, avoiding any reference to
the problem of facticity of consciousness which
attempts to explicate this creation. Speaking
phlosophically, theology as well as various forms
of its dialogue with scientific cosmology often
function in the natural attitude, when creation of
the world is approached as if one could speculate
of it objectively, in terms of logic pertaining to
the phenomenality of objects and in terms of the
causality of empirical things. For example, St.
Basil the Great, speaking of creation of the world,
says that God created heaven and earth, that
created beings begin with time and end in time.
Time originates together with the world, so that
the origination of time is its “first” moment, its
“beginning”. Then he says that one can start from
the present and attempt to trace through events
in the past that first day which would correspond
to the creation of the world out of nothing (Basil
the Great 1996, p. 55). In Basil’s affirmations it is
implied that time is that part of the created reality
which pertains to the intellect speculating about
creation. On the one hand time is an attribute
of the created world, on the other hand, it is,
using contemporary language, a transcendental
condition for the very possibility to speculate
about creation at all. When Basil points towards
the possibility of counting time backwards to
the past in order to find its beginning, as if this
beginning would be given to the human grasp as
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an “object”, as an outward “thing”, he implicitly
extrapolates the causality of mundane things
towards the origin and foundation of these
things. However, philosophy before Christianity
understood that the causal principle of the world
cannot be constructed by means of the sciences
and knowledge. Modern philosophy contributes
to this by saying that the origin of the world
as well as the origin of one’s consciousness is
phenomenologically concealed from one’s grasp,
so that its explication is possible only through the
unfolding in the future of that which is already
given. Correspondingly, Basil’s explication of the
origin can only be understood as undertaken from
within the phenomenality of the created and thus
establishing the retrocedent causality towards the
origin which will never become the explication
of creation.
If, as another patristic example, one turns to
St. Maximus the Confessor, one finds a similar
assertion that the world has a beginning and
consequently is not eternal. Maximus, following
his predecessors, repeats that the world was
created out of nothing because of God’s will
and goodness, by his Wisdom and Logos and
the createdness of the word implies its noneternity and consequently its beginning in time.
However, in spite of the fact that this beginning
in time can be understood only from within
the already created world, Maximus points to a
difficulty that can arise. In a passage from his
Centuries on Charity 4.3 he says, “God, who is
eternally Creator, creates when He wills by His
consubstantial Word and Spirit, because of His
infinite goodness.” This is a general statement
that does not raise any questions because it is a
matter of religious conviction. Then Maximus
anticipates a possible question on details of this
creation: “Nor must you object: Why did He create
at a certain time since He was always good?”
Here the question is formulated from within those
categories of sequence and time which pertain to
the already created world. Indeed, if the creation
of the world happened several thousand years
ago measured by the created time, why this age
of the world is such as it is, or, in other words,
can we enquire into the nature of this age’s
contingent facticity as it is contemplated from
within creation? Maximus gives a characteristic
response – “no”: “The unsearchable wisdom of
the infinite essence does not fall under human
knowledge.”11 It is impossible to transcend the
boundaries of the created and to enquire into
its facticity on the grounds of the impossibility
of knowing the divine volitions and intentions;
creation remains a divine mystery connected
with divine providence. It is evident that this
response has general apophatic overtones related
to the unknowability of God.
However, one must analyse further some
implications of the question, discussed by
Maximus. If the question about “when” of
creation is related to the temporal span of the
physical universe seen from within this universe
then one can find parallels with contemporary
cosmology. Formally, Maximus’ question can
be translated by using modern cosmological
language into a question about the initial
conditions of the universe which fix its physical
parameters, including its age. But physical
cosmology cannot give an account of the initial
conditions for dynamical laws which drive matter
and space of the universe. Correspondingly
cosmology cannot provide a clear explanation
why the age of the visible universe is 13.7 billion
years. Since we can speculate on the nature of
these conditions only from within our universe
by extrapolating backward the properties of the
observable universe, the “knowledge” of the
initial conditions thus achieved does not tell us
anything about these conditions, as if there were
special trans-worldly physical laws responsible
for these conditions as the outcomes of these
laws.12 Being bounded by the universe one cannot
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know the “laws” of the initial conditions of the
universe as if they could be attested from beyond
the universe (we can only postulate them). In this
sense Maximus’ response “no” with respect to the
initial conditions of the created universe exactly
corresponds to “no” of scientific cosmology in
respect to the initial conditions which fix the
contingent facticity of the universe.
However, Maximus’s question can be
reformulated differently, so that the question about
“when” of creation is posed as if the universe
appeared out of something preexistent. One can
imagine a pre-existent space-time continuum in
which our universe appears as some “moment” and
“location” of this pre-existent continuum. Then
the question “when” of creation will have another
sense as a particular “when” of pre-existent time.
We are not concerned here with the nature of
this preexistence, that is whether it is related to
the multiverse, or something “before” the Big
Bang, or to a cycling universe of Penrose’s type
(Penrose 20120). What interests us is a possibility
to approach creation as an “object”, as a transition
from something “before” to that which is here and
now. This would be typical for the natural attitude
to “look” at the creation and ask a question on
the specificity of this or that “moment” of its
happening in the preexistent scheme of things.
Certainly one could refer to Augustine’s ways of
responding to such a difficulty simply pointing
to the fact that “before” the world was created no
entities such as all-embracing space or time could
exist.13 Such an Augustinian response is true in
its essence, but it would be useful to confirm it
through a negative assessment of modern models
of creation with preexistent space-time. Indeed
to ask why creation “now” (e.g., six thousand
years ago) but not later or before, would imply
the possibility of approaching the creation in the
objective scheme of things, that is to position it as
an “event”, as a particular happening in the series
of causations.
As an example of “creation” in preexistent
space time one can point to a model of “creation”
of matter in the universe (not space and time) from
the initial state with the total energy of matter equal
zero. This requirement can be treated as a metalaw, imposed on matter of the future universe in
the pre-existent space and time. Such a model was
offered in (Tryon 1998) and its major feature was
that the universe originated in preexistent space
and time as a result of a fluctuation of the physical
vacuum (a physical state of quantum matter in
which the values of all observables of particles
are zero). Geometrically the development of such
a universe can be presented as a future light cone,
whose apex, symbolising the beginning of this
universe, is positioned completely arbitrarily
in preexistent space and time (see Fig. 1). It is
exactly this arbitrariness of the “place” and
“moment” of origination of the visible universe
in the background of the preexistent space and
time, which constitutes a difficulty similar to
that of Maximus: it is impossible to specify and
justify why the universe originated at a specific
point of space and time (that is it is impossible
to specify “when” of this origination). In this
theory the spontaneous creation of the universe
could occur anywhere and at any moment of preexistent space and time. (A variety of different
universes could originate at different locations of
the preexistent space-time, driving cosmology to
face a serious problem of the mutual influence of
different universes; see Fig. 1.)
Correspondingly the question of “when”
of “creation” not only cannot be answered,
but, in fact, does not have any sense, for if the
preexistent space-time is infinite, an infinite time
could have passed since our universe originated.
But this makes the question of temporality of the
moment of creation devoid of any meaning. There
is no need to argue that this kind of model has
nothing to do with creation out of nothing in a
theological sense, for space, time, the meta-law,
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Fig. 1. Indeterminacy of “creation” of the universe in cosmology with preexistent space and time
and the quantum vacuum are all assumed to be
pre-existent. It is reasonable to talk about the
temporal origination of the material universe
rather than about its creation out of nothing.14
The beginning of the world and its created
temporality can be grasped from within the
world, so that this beginning is the constituted
beginning from within the world. No constitution
or objectivisation of this beginning is possible
from beyond the world, because this “beyond the
world” is not an “object” but rather the condition
of the very possibility for the world to be
manifested to and articulated by human beings.
In this sense the quest for the beginning of the
created universe reveals itself as a boundary of
human consciousness attempting to grasp the
facticity of the world.
What is interesting is that the refutation of
models of “creation” of the universe in preexistent
space-time leads us to further clarification of
what is meant by creation in theology. Indeed,
the logical difficulty of models with pre-existent
space and time is connected with the inability
to locate the moment of time when the universe
originated, from outside, by transcending
beyond the universe itself, into its imaginable
preexistent “before”. One can argue about the
beginning of time within the visible universe by
extrapolating its expansion backward in time. But
this will never allow one to claim scientifically
that there either was or was not pre-existent time
“before” our universe came into existence. The
situation was described by Kant in terms of his
first cosmological antinomy as a logical tension
between the thesis, that the world has a beginning
in time and is also limited as regards space, and
the antithesis, that the world has no beginning and
no limits in space; it is infinite as regards both time
and space (Kant, 1933, A 426-427/ B454-455).
The antinomy which arises in any
cosmology with pre-existent space and time
can be considered from a different perspective,
without any reference to space and time, and
this brings us even closer to the thinking of
Maximus the Confessor. For example, the
thesis can be treated as the affirmation that the
visible universe is unique and finite as regards
space and time (with its particular age), whereas
the antithesis is that the visible universe is one
particular representative out of the ensemble of
universes with different boundary conditions
(corresponding in the previous logic to different
moments of their origination in preexistent time)
which are responsible for different ages of these
universes as they are seen from within them.
The plurality of different boundary conditions
corresponds to the logical multitude of a Platoniclike kind, so that the antinomial nature of any
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Fig. 2. Ensemble of intelligible universes with different initial [boundary] conditions
predication on the uniqueness (this universe) or
multitude (other universes) of these conditions
becomes evident because the ontological status
of that which is predicated in thesis and antithesis
is different: while with respect to the visible
universe we can make an empirical inference,
an assumption that there is an ensemble of
universes implies a reference to the realm of the
intelligible. In this case the whole meaning of the
antinomy reveals itself as predication about two
ontologically distinct realities, that is the empirical
visible universe and the Platonic-like ensemble of
the universes. If we extrapolate this reasoning
back to the problem, discussed by Maximus
the Confessor, the question posed by him in the
Centuries on Charity 4.3 must be transformed
in such a way that the temporal aspect of the
specificity of the creation of the world is replaced
by the aspect of “choice” of this particular world
out of many potential possible worlds, namely
“Why did God choose to create this world (with a
given age) but not the other (whose internal ages
could be different)?” (See Fig. 2).15
One can conjecture that Maximus’ response
to the very possibility of asking such a question
would probably be negative: one must rely on the
wisdom and will of God as an apophatic reference
with respect to a given choice of the universe.
In modern parlance, one cannot enquire in the
facticity of the created universe as one cannot
establish a causal principle of the universe which
would be required in the natural attitude.
The approach to creation within the natural
attitude can be paralleled with the substitution of
a meta-physical meaning of the universe with the
concepts which function according to how the
physical facts of the universe are defined, that is
with physics. If the created universe as a whole
is understood as a metaphysical and theological
concept it cannot be interpreted as a natural fact,
but only in the way the signifiers of the created
universe define this concept. In theology, the
words such as “God”, “eternity”, “creation”
which signify cause and purpose, metaphysical
sustenance or foundation of existence, refer
to mental definitions which do not have direct
representations through experience of the senses.
However, and this is how the substitution of
meta-physics by physics happens, these concepts,
in particular that of creation, use the same
mental reference to the conditions, delimiters
and contents which form the basis of sensory
experience. If God is understood as the “absolutely
necessary omnipotent being”, something greater
than sensible and intelligible reality, devoid of
contingencies of the empirical, something which
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cannot be observed and measured, it is still
mentally represented in the mode of ordinary
objects. Similarly, eternity is understood as a
mental extension of the empirical representation
of time, as that which attempts intellectually to
circumscribe the overall temporality that which,
by definition, escapes such a circumscription.
Finally creation of the world, in spite of the
verbal claim that it takes place out of nothing,
is mentally grasped as “transition” or “change”
between “that” indefinite and ineffable “nothing”
and “everything”. This “transition” is presented
as if human consciousness could “look” at it
from outside of both “nothing” and “everything”.
Modern cosmology attempts to depict the origin
of the visible universe as the actualisation of one
particular member of the multiverse, the transition
from one “object” (multiverse) to another “object”
(our universe). As we have pointed out above this
is not the modelling of creatio ex nihilo; however
the mental frame of thinking of creatio ex nihilo
remains unchanged. What is overlooked in this
type of reasoning is a simple existential truth that
one cannot position oneself outside of creation
that manifests and reveals itself through the fact of
life. Since the articulation of creation of the world
by human subjects is the process within creation,
this process must be included in the explication
of creation, so that the explication of creation
includes the explication of the transcendental
conditions of the possibility of such an explication
and thus the explication of the empirically evident
embodied consciousness as the manifestation of
this creation. In this case the problem of creation
out of nothing acquires an existential importance
for it does not say too much about the physical
aspects of the universe and its origin (that is, details
of creation) but it contributes to the explication
of the human condition. One means here not just
the biological condition which is subordinated to
the necessities of the natural creation, but another
human vocation through which the articulation
of creation of the world becomes meaningful,
namely the attainment of immortality; for it
is only through the vision of immortality that
all concepts of creation of the world receive
their sense as establishing communion with a
personal God who created all with a promise of
salvation. But this communion is not a matter
of the necessity implanted in creation, it is not
something subjected to biological instincts and
the conditions of embodiment. It originates in the
free will of humanity made in the image of That
with Whom humanity wants to communicate.
Correspondingly to explicate creation of the world
means to explicate the Divine image in man,
or, to be more precise, to explicate the impetus
in the path of restoration of the Image in the
created universe after the Fall. To remove some
fallacies in the representation of creation within
the phenomenality of objects and to understand
the problematics of creation as contributing to
the restoration of the Image means to see creation
as that saturating givenness of existence which
constantly forms all states of human life and its
consciousness.
The created and the sense of infinity
When theology and cosmology speak of the
created world, that is the universe as a whole,
by these terms it is denoted something which is
intrinsically incommensurable with subjectivity.
This incommensurability is conceptually
represented through the actual infinity of distance
(the volumetric content of the visible universe is
1057 times greater than the planet earth and will
grow indefinitely in the future), actual infinity of
time (the visible universe is 13.7 billions years
old and unbounded in the future16) and actual
infinity of its contingently various objects. All
such representations relate to one and the same
possible extension of that which is sensed and
measured, towards infinity through space, time
and qualitative variation. The meaning of the
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created as infinite is sensed as unlimited and
unbounded expanse. The word “infinite” is used
as a qualitative metaphor which has its origin in
the purely quantitative categorical construction
of infinity through unlimited addition. What is
specific in such a representation of the infinity of
the created is that it is exercised in the natural
attitude, that is under the assumption that the
incommensurability with the universe follows
not only from the infinite values of the contingent
parameters of the universe within the fixed type
of experience related, for example, to scientific
practice, but not from the infinite variety of
human experience.
Here we come to a fundamental point of
a theological conviction about creation: if the
created world is indeed thought as brought into
existence out of nothing, it was nothing which
limited its infinite capacity to proclaim itself
through the variety of relations between existent
things. It is in this sense that human beings
possess the immediate experiential knowledge
of the infinite variety of modes in which created
things can operate. They possess knowledge of the
infinite possibilities through the relationship of
every human person with any specific expression
of the existent. This is achieved through another
experiential fact, namely the radical otherness of
the human hypostatic existence in comparison
with the rest of creation.17 It is this otherness as
irreducibility to any particular mode of existence
that makes it possible to experience creation
through the infinitely many ways of subjective
manifestation of this otherness. This experiencing
of the qualitative infinity of creation drastically
differs from the sense of its infinity through spatial
and temporal extension of the finitely given in the
natural attitude. The distinctive feature of sensing
the whole creation through the event of personal
existence is the convergence of all separate
relations to created things in one single hypostatic
consciousness of commensurability with creation
by the fact of belonging to it and being different
from it. All is commensurable with a particular
personal existence because this existence, being
an event, encapsulating the whole “humankindevent” makes the whole creation to be an “event
simultaneous” with this existence. Such an
understanding of experiential knowledge of the
infinity of creation presupposes that it transcends
the phenomenology of the finite through
experiencing the limitless modes of expression of
this finitude. One can say that this transcending
originates in the ontological indeterminacy of all
attempts to express rationally that which exists. In
other words, reason remains helpless in grasping
the contingency of created things: being created
out of nothing, they manifest this contingency.
Thus the relationship between humanity and the
world contains in itself distinct and unrepeatable
expressions of unlimited reciprocity, in particular,
through the sense of a paradoxical dialectic of
commensurability and incommensurability with
the universe.
To illustrate what we have said above, one
can imagine a spatially finite universe (created
in a traditional sense of contingent dependence
upon God), whose temporal span is open ended.
The quantitative finitude of the universe cannot
prevent the disclosure of its qualitative infinity
through the unlimited expressions of relation
to it. In other words, the inexhaustibility of
communion with the universe which follows from
its radical contingency upon the transcendent
uncreated, makes it possible to transcend its
geometrical finitude. Another example is the
alleged origin of the physical universe in the
event of the Big Bang which has idiosyncratic
properties characterised by physical infinities
(infinite temperature, infinite curvature of space
etc). What is encapsulated in this construct, is
not a metric or an “additive” sense of infinity, but
rather a sense of a fundamental separation and
distinctiveness from the “originary” event of the
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universe, the archetypical anticipation of the loss
of the sense of “all in all” which humanity, treated
theologically, ever experiences since the Fall. The
sense of infinity of creation is revealed here as the
abysmal detachment from the initial unity with
the whole creation experienced before the Fall
in the image and likeness of God. The sense of
the infinite characteristics of the Big Bang thus
attests not so much to the scientific construction
of infinity through an indefinite asymptotic
procedure applied to the finite physical states, but
as the infinite distinctiveness and inexhaustibility
of the contingent originary state of the universe,
which potentially contains the infinite variety of
experience of the universe by conscious creatures.
The notion of the Big Bang escapes the finite
and determined definitions exhibiting its openended, that is apophatic character. Human reason
cannot constitute it simply because it exceeds the
possibilities of such an accomplishment in finite
time. Through an anticipatory encapsulation
of the empirical giveness of creation in the
non-originary origin, the structures of human
subjectivity are constituted exactly to the extent
that this subjectivity cannot comprehend this
event “of origin”. Theologically, one can state that
human attempts to comprehend the contingent
facticity of the universe as that saturating limit
which stops consciousness from grasping its own
origin de facto, explicates the human condition
after the Fall.
The approach to the created universe
which we developed above evidently remains
incompatible with the modern scientific demand
for objectivity, that is the representation of
reality within the phenomenality of objects.
In other words, the natural attitude which
separates the alleged object from the recipient
of its interpretation is impossible in the case of
creation. Since an “observer” of, or a participant
in, or a communicant with creation cannot be
abstracted from it, being a part of this creation,
any “glance” at creation is conditioned by the
presence of this observer. This condition entails
that the very relationship between an observer and
what is observed cannot be itself subjected to any
quantitative characterisation or measurement. The
infinity of creation, and thus its inexhaustibility in
rubrics of the rational thought, is manifested, on
the one hand, as the metaphysical indeterminacy
of that which exists and, on the other hand, by
the personal (hypostatic) otherness of the human
knower with respect to the rest of creation.
Being a part of creation and, at the same time,
transcending it in the sense of not submitting to
it, human beings establish an infinite relationship
with creation through the chasm of otherness
with it. Correspondingly every observation made
with respect to the created world represents also
a mode of experience of self-awareness as a
personal mode of existence of the human subject
that cannot be subjected to the conditions of
nature. It is this mode of existence that makes
possible the epistemic coordination of the finite
corporeal observer with the universe as a whole
in the mode of its actual infinity. Here human
freedom of relationship with the whole creation
in the mode of infinity manifests itself. The sense
of what is real in such a vision of the created
refers to the human presence as experience of
relationship which is not entirely determined
by the reference to rationality. Thus that which
is called “reality” of the created is an existential
fact and event of metaphysical relationship
between two actual infinities: humanity and the
universe, consubstantial, but contraposed through
their otherness; contraposed, but cognitively
coordinated.18
The dynamic of cognition as an existential
capacity and experience of relationship between
limited conscious humanity in the world and the
potentially infinite creation is included in the very
fact and outcome of scientific observation. The
experience of the potentially infinite is rooted not
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in the relationship of humanity with the world,
but, in fact, in its freedom from this relationship.
The delimiters in free thinking of the universe
proceed in the long run from the freedom of
human beings made in the image of God. All
thoughts and articulations of the universe always
contain traces of the divine image. Even when
cosmology proves the insignificance of humanity
in the universe, the divine image remains intact
exactly because the human mind always resists
all attempts to circumscribe its life in rubrics of
the natural, finite and transient. As articulated
above, human beings attempt to understand
the underlying sense of beings and things not
according to their “nature” but according to the
final causes of these beings and things in relation to
the place and goals of humanity in creation. Thus
humanity wants to recognise beings as results
of humanity’s free will. The image of eternity
is retained in any cosmological theory produced
through free willing even if this theory predicts
the finitude of all actual forms of existence and
life. Free willing and thinking of the created
universe manifests its existential otherness with
respect to the world, that is the ability to create
its own cosmos through art, culture and history
which contain the physical cosmos as its own fact.
That existential otherness which is spoken of here
is not understood as an evolutionary consequence
of the biologically predetermined capacities
of human beings achieved through natural
adaptation; it does not have a transcendental
fictional origin either. It is an existential response
to the need for freedom from nature in spite of
its relative contingency upon nature through the
limited existence in nature, expressed through
place, time, decay and ultimate death. One does
not speak here of absolute freedom from nature,
for it would imply that human beings control not
only initial substance of their creations, but even
the very existential presupposition of their nature.
This privilege belongs only to the uncreated, that
is to God, who alone can bring existence out
of nothing. However, humanity in the image of
God has the privilege of establishing modes of
its subjective impression with regard to nature
“out of nothing”. These subjective impressions
as modes of the natural abilities of man can be
self-defined in a sense that they are not naturally
predetermined. It is here that human freedom
becomes an indispensable condition for the
experience of the potentially unlimited contingent
creation. It is achieved through a mental image and
concise symbol of the universe which saturates
intuition through an instantaneous synthesis in
such a way that this universe enters human life as
a work of art, revealing thus not only the content
of that to which the signifier of the universe as
a whole is intended, but the existential otherness
of an artist, that is of a cosmologist. Since the
universe as a whole cannot be presented though
the phenomenality of objects and the scale of the
unlimited and potentially infinite creation exceeds
any possibility of the natural predetermination of
the universe’s image, the universe saturates the
intuition to such an extent that the faculties of
its comprehension become determined by this
saturation, exactly to the extent that these faculties
cannot comprehend the universe. Thus humanity
itself through gazing at the universe is formed
by its unconditional givenness and articulates
this universe in the conditions of this existential
determination. The saturating intuition of the
created universe makes the relationship between
human beings and the universe unbounded and
subjected to communion between the potentially
infinite humanity (because of its Divine image),
and the infinite creator. The more personal the
relation with the universe becomes the more
inexpressible in the limits of cognitive structures
and discursive thought it remains. If human
beings attempt to express the meaning of personal
reference to the metaphysical causal principle
of all created things, this meaning always
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remains incomplete in comparison with the
experience of this reference itself. The intuition
of the contingency of the created world upon the
transcendent God-creator, is a natural way of
expressing the sense of dependence and originary
foundation of all that is. To avoid a suspicion of
an eidetic or imaginary unboundedness in such
an intuition, one needs reciprocity, that is the
personal response from that what is intuited as
the infinite. But the universe, being created and
enhypostatically inherent in the Divine, cannot
be hypostatic itself.19 Thus the infinity of the
created must be accompanied by the reciprocal
response of the creator who confirms this infinity.
This type of reciprocity and communion cannot
be subjected to the powers of natural epistemic
verification and impression. This confirms an
old intuition of some theologians that Christian
teaching of creation has never been the narrative
of the created world, but rather the narrative of
relationship between God and the world, or, more
precisely between man and God. It is because the
reciprocity asserted can only be achieved and
validated experientially that it has an intrinsically
precarious character which must be carefully
distinguished from any psychological projections
and unjustified fantasies ultimately rooted in the
rubrics of the natural. 20 The communal nature
of such a validation and the confirmation by
relationship transcends any conceptual images,
intellectual constructions and ethical systems,
attempting to express the reference to the whole
creation and its creator. The reciprocity implies
inerasable presence of the Divine image in any
representation of the created universe. This
inerasability as a biased position in cognition and
relationship to the universe, was earlier called
theological commitment which excludes any
liberal and secular approach to the issue of creation
as being mythopoetical and epistemologically
arbitrary. In this respect one must make it clear
that in spite of the fact that according to the
Christian view the cosmic history and sense of
creation is unfolded from within the history of
humanity, that is its history of salvation (Clément
1976, pp. 77-94), the delimiters of historicity do not
phenomenalise creation as an object in similarity
with the object-like representation subjected to
the norms of scientific rationality; this type of
phenomenality with respect to creation will be
limited and existentially distorted, depriving
humanity of freedom following from the Divine
image. The delimiters of historicity disclose
creation as relationship between humanity and
God, and reveal themselves as related to the sense
and purpose of the human history.21
Since the issue of creation of the world is
a metaphysical issue it is contradictory to pose
questions about metaphysics in the terms and
manner of physics, the question of creation
demands definitive answers (in contradistinction
to the sciences that provide some positive insights
on the nature of the created which are uncertain in
the sense that they are amendable and corrigible
by the very course of the scientific advance). These
answers cannot be exhausted through scientific
enquiry and thus the acquisition of metaphysical
datum presupposes existential participation in it.
What is the sense of such a participation and, to
a certain extent, its inevitability? The ultimate
issue is humanity’s dilemma between a prospect
of its ultimate annihilation by the forces of
nature, and its liberation from the conditions of
nature and attainment of real existence beyond
the mode of nature, that is beyond biological
death. Here the metaphysical dimension of the
issue of creation of the world becomes imbued
with a Christian theological content, namely with
the Gospel’s proclamation of the possibility to
attain immortality. And since it is the Church and
its experience that represents humanity’s deepest
need to attain immortality, the ecclesial dimension
of the question of creation of the world comes to
the fore. Here the human vision of creation as
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it is aligned towards the eternal creation, that is
creation which is renewed through the restoration
of its unity with the Divine, corresponds to the
vision of how mortal life is aligned towards
eternal life. The humanity of Christ seeks for the
completion of the first act of the creation through
the fulfilment of the promise for salvation which
is inherent in the very act of creation out of the
Love of God. Correspondingly at every individual
level, human beings seek for the completion of the
act of conception and birth toward the fulfilment
of the inherent initial promise for the attainment
of salvation and eternal life.
In addressing the issue of freedom from
nature and attainment of immortality one
cannot appeal to science. One needs a different
language, the language of existential otherness
and personal mode of existence which is devoid
of any limiting preconditions from nature. This
happens in experience of relationship either
with other human beings or nature, or in love
and art, when communion with other persons
unfolds as the wholeness of reality coming not
from its differentiated and individual existence
in the nowhere of cosmic space and time, but
from the stripping off all extended (Gr.: diastsis)
dimensions of existence, so that the whole world
acquires the sense of being “contemporaneous”
or “simultaneous” with the event of communion.
The sought language is the language of
“horizontal” transcendence, not outwardly
beyond space and time, but inwardly inside the
theologically understood heart, as that centre
of disclosure and manifestation of the world
which forms and constitutes the person. Personal
existence can be described, in contradistinction
with the individual existence, as experience of the
private absolute. This experience can be called
mystical and amounts to the possibility to sense
the multifarious universality of all that exists,
to sense all that is fragmented and separated in
space and time (be it human history or the whole
cosmological span) as unique and exclusive
experience of the universal in spite of the finitude
and limited capacity of the physical and biological
sustainment of the individual person. Experience
of being privately absolute and unique follows
from the inherent sense of commensurability
with the whole created universe (distinct from the
incommensurability of space-time) not through
the genetic consubstantiality, but through the Godgiven ability to see creation as an instantaneous
synthesis effected by the Divine image of the
Logos, the creator and sustainer of the universe. If
science remains silent with respect to the human
ability to articulate the whole creation, theology
formulates this ability as the actual possibility to
experience the private absolute as the unique and
unrepeatable fact of existence, that is hypostatic
existence, which is ultimately existence in
“solitude”22 understood as the otherness not only
to impersonal nature, but also to other human
beings. Paradoxically, it is this otherness which
opens the ways of communion with others. This
solitude is the ability to transcend all partial and
contingent relations and attitudes, impressions
and feelings, and to retain the core of existence
as that private and absolute “cogito ergo sum” or
“amo ergo sum” which cannot be communicated
in a manner of speech. The private absolute
is ultimately that mystery of immanence
and incomprehensibility of life which, being
caught in thinking and causing the cessation of
subjectively extended space and time, leaves a
human being speechless and in the state of the
prayerful invocation similar to a cry of a newborn
child looking for the mother, as that carrier of
relationship which consoles for the solitude of
being born into this world. This is the reality of
being born in such conditions that the motivation
and phenomenalisation of this birth is profoundly
hidden, with no clear antecedents. Every human
being has to struggle with the mystery of its own
creation as its inevitable commensurability with
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creation. To uncover the sense of one’s existence
through the unfolding of life, as a gradual
process of filling this sense with a new content of
temporally succeeding events, is the same as to
uncover the sense of all creation through seeing it
as one’s own private absolute.
If the sense of the universe as a whole can
be experienced as a personal absolute, there is
a natural desire of every human being to retain
this sense “absolutely” regardless the conditions
of embodiment, and to subject this experience
to the liberation from the necessities of nature.
The longing for immortality is not an idea of
abandoning creation and subjecting it to the
annihilating forces of non-being. It is a desire to
exist in the sense “to live” in that state of creation
which would maximally imitate that invisible
foundation which provided this created world
with the invitation to exist. If Christian faith in
its ecclesial setting is about the attainment of
immortality, then the issue of creation becomes
an inevitable part of its theology, because the
attainment of immortality must be implicitly
preordained in the very event of one’s conception
and birth as the initial creational promise for
salvation and eternal life. The transcendence
toward immortality as an indefinite retaining
of experience of the private absolute does
not invalidate the mode of creaturehood: the
experience of the private absolute is itself the
disclosure and manifestation of being-in-the
world as being created.
The Universe
as a Saturated Phenomenon:
the explication of the sense
of the private absolute
Experience of “private absolute” introduces
a different type of apophaticism in knowledge
of the universe, based not in the “universe’s
darkness” (lack of light), but on the excess of its
donation. Here the perception of the universe as
extended in space and time is replaced by the
perception of the universe in aesthetical and
ethical categories. Ancient Greek philosophers
called such a universe kosmos, that is beauty and
order. However kosmos of the Greeks, unlike that
which is understood by the cosmos in modern
cosmology, denoted the way by which the natural
reality is. It denoted not that which was related
to the question “What?” of created nature but
rather to the question “How?” Kosmos thus is the
“ordered” revelation of the existent, that is the
notion related to beauty. But beauty is a matter
of personal judgement and observing distinctions
which can be justified only within relationship,
that is communion. It is because of this that
Plato summarised all presocratic views in his
teaching of kosmos as a living unity, “animate
and intelligent being”23, living totality of animate
creatures and inanimate things, gods and
people.24 The overcoming of disorder and riot as
such reveals itself as life so that kosmos unfolds
as a living whole, the “visible living being”.25
Since life implies soul, the “body” of the kosmos
is harmonised in the “spirit of friendship” of that
who brought it into existence. But then the beauty
of the world, that is the world as kosmos, reveals
itself as a mode of the living, animated organism
whose soul is also intelligent: the order of the
world, its measure and commensurability which
reveal the beauty of the world also manifest the
intellect.26 Correspondingly the beauty of the
universe reveals itself not only through the world
being animated, but also through its intellect.
One can say that the beauty of the universe is
not that which is manifested, but the universe as
manifestation. It is the “how” of the universe but
not its “what”.
The approach to the world as a whole based
on an attempt to treat the world in categories
of beauty, to look at it as a perfect creation,
animated and intelligent being, constrains human
knowledge of the universe to the limits of its
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empirical link with the whole of the reality of
nature. It does not allow any formal and logical
explanation of the world which would depersonify
an immediate living communion with it in
intellectual abstractions. The dimensions of
beauty presuppose that one can recognise and
evaluate the way by which cosmic reality exists.
One can experience the beauty of the world only
through the immediate and intimate relationship
as personal communion, not as an abstract
measure invented by the discursive reason.27
Communion with the created universe and
comprehension of its beauty is a personal process
and achievement. In personal relationship we
come to know the universe not as an existent
whose phenomenality is limited to the numerical
and quantitatively measurable domain, that is
not as nature or essence, but as the unlimited of
indefinite differentiations manifested to a person.
This mode of personal uniqueness of things is their
beauty as the reality of the universe appearing as
kosmos. In the world as a whole the ontological
difference between any existent and being in
general, manifesting itself as beauty, comes forth
through the difference between the intellectual
circumscribing of things and their way of being
as their distinction detected by a person. Their
beauty claims itself as their unconcealment
revealed in personal relationship. The truth
(unconcealment) of an existent witnesses of itself,
as creative presence and action upon persons. This
personal action as ordering and arranging of the
universe making it the beautiful kosmos cannot
be exhaustively determined by the human reason
through logic and quantitative definitions. It
rather meets with reason dialogically, in the event
of personal relationship-communion. In fact, it is
only this relationship which makes possible the
process of knowledge of the universe to the extent
that we recognise in it kosmos as it was defined
above. By so doing we first encounter being (in a
general philosophical sense) as it is turned to us by
its, using Hedeggerian terminology, unconcealed
“side”: “ ‘World’ is the clearing [aperture,
opening, AN] of being into which human being
stands out on the basis of his thrown essence.”28
Secondly, we discover the way of the personal
givenness of things to us and, as a result, the
inner world of persons. If a person contemplates
the universe not simply as a conglomerate of
different forms of matter arranged in a contingent
manner, but as an “object” of art, then in a direct
analogy with any human-made piece of art,
one realises that the universe can be seen not
as a precisely calculated clock-like mechanism,
but as that ecstatic energy in which the creative
person can be found and by which the knowing
person is constituted. The beauty of the universe
thus reveals that present in absence “face” of the
universe which is enhypostasized by the knowing
person in the image of its hypostatic creator, the
Logos.
This personal appreciation of the
Cosmos through communion leads to such
an “understanding” of the phenomenon of
the universe in which the intuition (based in
communion) of the universe gives immeasurably
more than intention of the universe ever would
have intended or foreseen. The universe perceived
in this way naturally falls under the rubric of a
phenomenon which is saturated with intuition;
to clarify this one may refer to Kant’s distinction
between the “rational idea” and “aesthetic idea.”
The “rational idea”, for example the cosmological
idea, can never become a sensible comprehension
because it contains a concept (of the trans-sensible
universe) for which no adequate intuition can
ever be given. In this sense the rational idea of the
universe can be considered as phenomenon that is
not only poor, but deprived of intuition. In fact the
cosmological idea (as a rational idea) is defined as
a representation of an “object” – the universe –
according to a principle that this representation
can never become the cognition of the universe.
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Correspondingly, to the “rational idea” (of the
universe), can be contraposed the “aesthetic idea”
(of the universe) as the cosmos as communion,
that is a representation according to intuition
which itself can never become an intellectual
(discursive) cognition, but for an opposite reason:
“because it is an intuition… for which an adequate
concept can never be found” (Kant 1951, § 57,
note 1, p. 187). In this case the matter is not that
there is the non-adequation of the intuition, that is
its lack, which leaves a concept blind (there is no
intuition adequate to the concept of the universe
as a whole, or the world); conversely one has
here the failure or insufficiency of the concept
to clarify the intuition. The excess of intuition
related to a particular sphere of experience
over its conceptual representation prohibits that
any linguistic representation ever reaches it
completely and render it intelligible (C.f. Ibid., §
49). In other words, the excess of intuition of the
universe in communion will never allow one to
see the universe as an object. This incapacity to
produce an object does not result from a shortage
of donation of the universe (as happens in the
rational idea of the universe), but from the excess
of intuition, that is from the excess of donation (for
it is the intuition which gives). The “aesthetic idea”
gives more than any concept can expose, that is
arrange and order the intuitive content according
to rules of the understanding. The impossibility
of this conceptual arrangement follows from
the fact that the intuitive overabundance itself
is not accessible to experience within the rules
pertaining to discursive modalities of cognition.
The intuition is not exposed within the limits
of the concept, but saturates it and renders its
overexposed, that is keeps it invisible, blind not
by the lack of “light” (the universe as a whole is
invisible because it remains dark for the “light”
of the categories of the understanding) but by the
excess of light (there is too much in our intuition
of the universe through communion which
cannot be discerned). The problem is to find a
phenomenological description of the “aesthetic
idea” of the universe, that is communion with the
universe, rendering thus the unforeseeable nature
of the donation of the universe, the impossibility
of seeing it as an object, and its freedom from
intentionality of subjectivity. In spite of all
anomalies related to the discursive apprehension
of the “aesthetic idea” the universe as a created
whole is not disqualified from a phenomenological
description. So that, one can use categories of the
understanding (in a Kantian sense) in order to
characterise the “inexposable representation” of
this idea as a saturated phenomenon although in
an apophatic, negative sense.
First of all, the universe as a whole cannot
be aimed at in the sense of a successive synthesis
of quantity applied to ordinary objects. It is
because of belonging to the universe and its
constant spontaneous givenness to us that the
intuition that gives it is not limited, its excess
can neither be divided nor put together because
of a homogeneous magnitude of its parts. The
excess of the donating intuition could not be
measured on the basis of its parts since this
intuition surpasses the sum of these parts. The
“phenomenon of the universe”, which is always
exceeded by the intuition that saturates, should
be called incommensurable in the sense of not
measurable. This lack of measure does not
operate here through the enormity of an unlimited
quantity which stands behind the universe. It is
rather marked by the impossibility of applying a
successive synthesis to it, as if one could foresee a
complex whole on the basis of its parts. Since the
universe as a whole, as a saturated phenomenon,
exceeds any summation of its parts which are
in many ways inaccessible to the subjectivity
undertaking such a summation, the idea of a
successive synthesis has to be replaced by what
was called before the instantaneous synthesis
(a synthesis of communion) the representation
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of which “precedes” and goes beyond possible
(unobservable and imagined) components,
rather than resulting from them according to the
extended in time pre-vision. Here a clarification
is possible: physically, one can perceive in the
universe only a particular side of it which is
“turned” to us by the surface of the past null
cone.29 What we see through the light cone of
the past imposes itself on us with a certain force
which overwhelms us to the point that we are
fascinated by it. This imitates a simple human
impression of the universe when one looks at
the sky and sees patterns of beautiful stars. At
this stage the successive synthesis, attempted
later in physical cosmology, is suspended exactly
at the moment when the first impression from
the universe occurred. This happens because
another synthesis has been achieved, a synthesis
that is instantaneous and irreducible to the
sum of all possible parts of the universe. This
type of communion with the universe which is
accompanied by amazement and the sense of
awe arises without any common measure with
the phenomena which precede, announce or
explain it.
The universe as a saturated phenomenon
cannot be accounted for according to quality as an
intensive magnitude. The aiming at or foreseeing
the universe in perception is heterogeneous in
degree for every one and is marked by a break
or discontinuity such that the universe manifests
itself in perception as an absolutely singular
novelty. The universe seems to be already there,
available for our arrival, life in it and gaze at it.
In this sense the universe imposes itself on us as
preceding us. It appears to our view in childhood
as well in an adult state as an unexpected,
unpredictable fact, originating allegedly in what
we perceive as the uncontrollable past. Supplied
by theoretical apparatus, we indeed face the
entire cosmos in its past and this past does not
reach us apart from deductions and intuitions.
The more we study the universe astronomically,
the more splendour we unfold; but this splendor
is unexpected and unpredictable, unknown
before we glimpsed it in the sky. In this sense
the “beauty” of the universe as it manifests
itself through picturesque galaxies and nebula
formations brings one into a state of awe when
one experiences the universe as incomparable and
incommensurable with any particular event in
one’s life (in spite of its “simultaneity” with one’s
life through the instantaneous synthesis). The
universe comes to one, engulfs one and imposes
itself without one’s control and anticipation: thus
it exhibits itself in the phenomenality of events.
What is meant here is that the phenomenon
of the universe reaches an intensive magnitude
without measure, so that starting from a certain
degree the intensity of the intuition exceeds all
anticipations of perception. Existentially, while
experiencing the immediacy of communion with
the universe one cannot predict or measure the
intensity of this impression, for it is inseparable
from the fact of life and thus, life itself, cannot
be subjected to any measure: it either is or is
not. The intuition of the universe blinds the
capacity of its anticipation through perception. It
is in this sense that the intuition which gives the
phenomenon of the universe is unbearable for the
gaze: the perception of the universe as a whole
is blocked and its comprehension manifests
itself as dim and dark, unformed and essentially
disturbing. The universe falls under the rubric
of the saturated phenomenon that J.-L. Marion
characterises by such a term as “bedazzlement”
(Fr: l’éblouissement) (Marion1992, pp. 109-11).
The universe in its pieces and moments can be
seen, but the universe as a whole not only cannot
be seen, it cannot be borne. The bedazzlement by
infinity brings one to the recognition of its own
finitude. The sense of incommensurability with
the universe originates through the bedazzlement
by its potential infinity. The finitude of humanity
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is experienced not so much through the shortage
of the given before its gaze of the universe (the
universe supplies human subjectivity with a
potentially infinite set of sense-impressions as
different events in space and time), but, above
all, through the overwhelming belonging to this
universe as a fact of existence, whose magnitude
of donation cannot be measured (because it
cannot be controlled). Here human consciousness
experiences itself in the suffering passivity (that
is ignorance of its own origin, and suspended
between subject and object, meaning and being)
with no means to evaluate its own givenness in
terms of any measure.
The created universe
in the phenomenality of events
The universe as creation cannot be
subjected to relational analysis because it is
unique and one cannot rerun the universe or
stage it as an experimental event. The universe
as a whole is identical only to itself, so that its
unfolding facticity is characterised not only by
irreproducibility but by irreversibility understood
not in a technical, thermodynamic sense, but
as logical irreversibility as a coming into the
facticity of existence and impossibility of exiting
this existence. The universe as its sheer givenness,
makes itself a phenomenon not arising from our
initiative and not responding to our expectations
(since it cannot be reproduced); it gives itself
to us from its own self to such an extent that it
affects us, changes us and almost constitutes us,
and stages us out of its own giving itself to us:
hence it has a phenomenality of an event.30
From the point of view of a physical
cosmologist there is an imminent difficulty:
how one can treat the universe as an event
if, at first glance, it is “a” stable object, that
is, the astronomical cosmos out there and
what is allegedly beyond it. What is the basis
for interpreting the universe (as an object of
cosmological research) as “an” or “the” event,
if this word has mundane connotations? It is not
difficult to realize that the logic of formulating
such a question is exercised from within the
natural attitude which thinks of the universe in
the phenomenality of objects which by definition
have a temporal pattern of stability and then
cannot be events. The universe is out there and it
is not “an” or “the” event because it is always over
there. However, as we have attempted to argue
before, the universe as articulated existence is
epistemologically commensurable with the event
of one’s life and thus has an evential status in this
sense. Thus, phenomenologically, one should
reverse the question and enquire as to how the
essential event-character of the phenomenon of
the universe became blurred and disappeared
to the extent that it appears no more than an
object? The objectivity of the phenomenon of the
universe arises from an attempted quantitative
synthesis in the style of Kant: to become an object
any phenomenon should be expressed in terms
of quantity or magnitude. Correspondingly the
totality of the phenomenon is achieved as the sum
of its parts through anticipation of a quantitative
synthesis.31 This signifies that the magnitude of
the phenomenon of the universe is always to be
described in finite parameters and depicted in real
or abstract mathematical (imaginary) space.32 In
this sense the universe as a whole is intellectually
foreseen before it is actually seen. The universe
is confined in its quantity, defined through its
parts and brought to a conceptual cessation of
any advance of its content by the already made
measurements. This reduction of the universe to
its foreseeable quantity turns it into an object as
if there were nothing else to be seen in it, nothing
other than that which can already be envisaged
on the basis of its theoretical construction. This
is typical for theoretical cosmologists who no
longer need to see the universe (that is commune
with it personally) because they foresee the
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universe in advance. In fact, any speculative
cosmology could freely avoid living insights
in the universe on the basis of its theoretical
foreseeing unless the measurements would
contradict this possibility, that is, bring a sort
of breakdown to the constructed object. The
phenomenon of the universe reduced to an
object deprives the universe of its independent
and unrestricted appearance, placing thus its
event-like character in rubrics of some common
laws. When cosmology treats the universe as an
object it assumes that everything in it remains
seen in advance and nothing unexpected can
happen which disqualifies the universe from
the status of an object. Then the universe as an
object of particular theoretical study remains a
phenomenon which has already expired: nothing
new can happen to it, since in those rubrics in
which it is constituted it appears as that which is
devoid of the mode of becoming or happening.
Metaphorically one can say that the universe as
an object appears to be a shadow of the event
which is denied in it.
The event-like character of the universe
cannot be foreseen since its partial causes
which are invented by cosmology remain
fundamentally insufficient: a typical example is
a particular version of the multiverse theory in
which the space of all possible initial conditions
for universes is postulated.33 This ensemble of the
initial conditions is a necessary condition for this
universe to be actualised in existence. However the
realised facticity of this universe as the “pinning
down” of the initial conditions (in the overall
space of possible conditions) which leads to the
formation of our universe, is not described by any
theory and requires ad extra assumptions which
do not belong to the sphere of physical causality.
The realization of these particular conditions is
detected post-factum, when the event of their
choice and hence the coming of this universe
into existence, happened and was accomplished.
But the event of choosing the appropriate initial
conditions in this case is not subject to any
causation based on the foreseeing of this event.
It is not amazing that the post-factum possibility
of these initial conditions (that is of our universe)
which are impossible to foresee remains, strictly
speaking, an a-priori impossibility with regard
to the system of previously classified causes:
indeed the choice of the initial conditions for our
universe is practically impossible since it must be
made out of the potentially infinite number of all
possible conditions.34
The observation that the universe as a
whole cannot be foreseen on the grounds of any
causation, can be rephrased as that the universe
imposes itself on perception without one being
able to assign to it a substance in which it dwells
as an accident (or a cause from which it results
as an effect: there is no causal principle of the
world). One could refer to the invisible whole
of the universe as that substance “in” which the
observable part of the universe (as its accident)
dwells. The universe is given to us in its pieces
and moments which represent that whole which
will never be accessible per se. The invocation
of the idea of the primordial substance in this
context would just mean a conviction that there
is an undifferentiated unity of “all in all”, and the
visible universe represents its particular realization
in the ancient sense of demiurgic order out of
chaos.35 This mental split in the representation of
the universe as substance and accident does not
correspond however to the immediate experience
of the universe as an event of life for it is in this
event that it is exactly impossible to make a
distinction between “substance” of life and life as
an “accident”. Correspondingly it is problematic
to look for the cause of the universe (as its effect)
if it is perceived as coaevus universo, that is the
universe as “simultaneous” with one’s life. The
question of the facticity of the universe (as an
effect of some cause) cannot be even addressed
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if the universe is seen as the totality of all. All
rhetoric about the origination of the universe in
the Big Bang has no philosophical significance as
the “cause” of the universe, because it does not
address the issue of the “cause” of the Big Bang
itself. Even the appeal to a “particular Big Bang”
taking place in the course of an inflationary
generation of many bubble universes does not
reach any goal, since the cause of the ensemble
of those bubbles indwelling in the “substance”
of the originary inflaton field does not remove
the question of the facticity of this field. Indeed,
in analogy with ancient Greek philosophies
this field can be considered as substance of the
same mental kind as, for example, the “water”
of Thales from Miletus from which the actual
state of affairs in the world can be produced by a
potentially infinite number of ways. Finally, one
can suggest that another typical characteristic
of the universe as an event amounts to the fact
that the number of “possible explanations” of its
facticity is indefinite and increases in proportion
to cosmological hermeneutics that cosmologists
and their interpreters produce.
The treatment of the universe in the
phenomenality of events does not deny its
temporality. The temporality of the universe as a
whole cannot be that of the physical flow in preexisting time, it is a different temporality of events
which must be elucidated. In order to do this let us
start from a simple question: if the phenomenon
of the universe giving itself in a mode of an event
carries the signs of temporality, does it reaffirm
the Kantian position that every phenomenon
is a phenomenon if it admits a representation
as experience in time-form of sensibility? The
response to this is that while in Kant’s view
temporality serves only to allow the synthesis
of phenomena as object with a certain identity,
that is a guarantee of its permanence in presence
justified through assigning it a cause or a reason,
the event-like character of the universe as a whole
cannot rely on this kind of a synthesis and thus
permits a corresponding phenomenality of the
universe contrary to the objectivity established
in physical cosmology. The objectiveness of
the created universe as permanence in presence
through its evolution becomes a projection or even
an illusion of an a-temporal event. The universe
being described by mathematical laws as an
evolving object entails that its notion is emptied of
any intuitive content and thus represents a shadow
of that event which gives itself in the fact of life.
But then there is a question of the internal sense
of temporality of life itself. Indeed, temporality
belongs to sensibility of subjects articulating
the universe and orienting them towards the
synthesis of the already given objects. However
it is this same temporality that is never applied
in order to constitute and define the acting agent
of this synthesis, that is the transcendental “I”.
Then, even if one conjectures that the phenomena
temporalized as objects (the evolving universe)
preserve a trace of their belonging to the event
(an intuition of the universe as a whole), still the
transcendental “I” does not phenomenalize itself
as an event. This happens because the “I” never
phenomenalises itself at all: it does not appear
among other phenomena, that is it is excluded
from that phenomenality which it produces. In
this sense the idea that the universe as a whole
is an event seems to be counter-intuitive: indeed
even if the “I” experiences their communion
with the universe through the a-temporal, that
is non-temporalizable sense of belonging and
consubstantiality, any attempt to express this
linguistically and discursively puts the event-like
sense of communion under the rubrics of eidetic
temporality. There is one particular aspect in the
phenomenality of the universe which employs
such an eidetic temporality, namely the universe’s
“beginning”, its point of origination, the Big
Bang. It is here that the universe is explicitly
eidetically temporalized as an event. And this
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happens not accidentally, but because of a deep
analogy between the Big Bang (as a shorthand
notation for the temporal boundary of the
universe) and an event of birth of any particular
“I” which is the ultimate beginning and end of
all possible predications of life as well as the
universe. It is here that the “I” phenomenalises
the universe as an event on the same grounds as it
phenomenolizes itself as its own event of birth.
When cosmology tells us that whatever we
see in the sky points towards the origin of the
universe, the Big Bang, it asserts the universe
as a phenomenon which shows itself in the
mode of the already given to us in its sheer
facticity originating in this Big Bang. Such a
phenomenon of the universe is properly eventlike. The question then is how to understand the
origin of the universe (showing itself in its remote
consequences as a phenomenon in the presence
of humanity) in the conditions where no human
subject has ever seen it by their “own eyes”.
Cosmologists consider the point origination of
the universe as a “phenomenon” because they
constantly intend it: these intentions are fulfilled
with indirect testimonies relying on intermediate
deductions following from observations and
belief laden theories.
The origin of the universe which contains
human beings appears in fact as a privileged
phenomenon since a significant effort of humanity
is devoted to its reconstitution as restoration of the
lost memory of it, to giving it sense and even, in a
way, responding to its appeal to us as if the universe
had its distinctive self-identity. Still, humanity
cannot see this undeniable and unavoidable
phenomenon directly. The fact that one cannot
see the origin of the universe directly and that
nevertheless it reveals itself as a phenomenon for
which cosmology constantly intends, constitutes
an aporia which can be formulated in the following
way: the origin of the universe shows to humanity
precisely that its origin cannot be shown. This
aporia urges a philosophising cosmologists to
understand how the phenomenon of the origin of
the universe that does not show itself directly not
only affects humanity as if it did show itself, but,
in fact, affects humanity in a more radical way
than any other phenomena, since the beginning
of the universe forms the necessary conditions
for humanity’s emergence in the universe. The
same cosmologists have to admit that since this
indemonstrable origin of the universe reveals
itself to them, it “happens” to them in that it
endows human beings with a future. The origin
of the universe can be called a phenomenon
because of its presence in absence, that is the
poverty of demonstrability, so that it comes to
pass in human life as an event, which was never
present in presence, and is always already gone
past, whereas it never surpasses the present and,
in fact, is always to come. Thus one can say that
the origin of the universe phenomenalises itself
but as a pure event unpredictable (there is no sense
of temporality before and outside the universe),
irreproducible (one cannot rerun the universe),
exceeding all cause (there is no physical causation
from beyond the universe) and making the
impossible possible (the probability of origination
of our universe in multiverse scenarios is always
infinitely small, that is the universe is a-priori
impossible), surpassing all expectations and
predictions (the constant advance of knowledge
of the universe does not make it possible to
assign to the universe some definitive and stable
features which could sustain indefinitely the
observational tests as well as an epistemological
advance). Speaking of the origin of the universe
we speak of its donation: it is given to us in the
measure as it gives itself and its givenness to us is
an apodictic fact-event which is alone responsible
for that which we call the constituted phenomenon
of the origin of the universe, or the universe
as a whole. It is this givenness that initiates an
encapsulated temporality of the universe as an
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event, which being projected onto the object-like
temporality manifests the features of a shadow
of the universe’s wholeness and its non-originary
origin.
Since the universe as totality cannot be
specified in terms of analogies of experience
including, first of all, its temporality, the universe
acquires the character of an event, that is a
phenomenon that is unforeseeable on the basis
of the past, incomprehensible on the basis of the
present and irreproducible on the basis of the
future. Cosmology attempts to reconstruct the
invisible past of the universe on the basis of its
present. In this sense the past of the universe is
not “the past in the past” but rather “the past of
the present”36, so that the unforeseeable future is
simply a result of the fact that we do not know the
past. However, neither is the universe exhaustively
comprehensible on the basis of the present: the
contingency of our location in space and time, as
well as the contingency of the very factual selfarticulation of the universe through the human
voice, point towards the incommensurability (not
consubstantiality) of the universe as a whole with
its particular articulated incarnation leading to
the untestability of many conjectures about the
universe and the fundamental uncertainty of
cosmology (Ellis 2007, p. 1274). The universe
is an event because it is not reproducible on the
basis of the future: there is simply no future
with respect to the universe as a whole which
by definition incorporates all past, present and
future37; the universe cannot be rerun. Finally
one asserts that the universe, by definition, is a
unique occurrence, it is that which has a modality
of created absoluteness. All cosmological theories
which attempt to explore the possibility of nonuniqueness of this universe make a reduction
of the phenomenality of this universe to that
distorted and damaged phenomenality which is
typical of objects constituted by the empirical
sciences, the phenomenality which is poor in
intuition (foreseeable as reconstructed from the
allegedly existing past, exhaustively knowable
according to existing theories, reproducible
theoretically through the plurality of different
scenarios). It is clear that what is left behind
these reconstructions is a historical dimension
of the universe as a unique and contingent event
which cannot be exhausted by its reduction to
human subjectivity, in particular to that mode
which deals with the universe’s thematization
as an object. Here historicity of the universe
is understood not as a sequence of its stages of
evolution as they are described in cosmology.
One implies the historicity of the universe as a
whole as its contingent givenness to humanity
in its entire span of time and space, that is as a
humanly historical relation and communion.
This historicity has a different origin, following
not from physical causality but rather originating
in intentional consciousness as the intrinsic and
mysterious unity of subject and object, being
and non-being, spirit and matter. It is interesting
to note that Christian cosmology is built upon
a premise that it is the fate of humanity which
determines the fate of the universe and the whole
history of the universe becomes seen as part of
the history of salvation.
The universe as a saturated phenomenon:
from analogies
of experience to plurality of horizons
Mathematical cosmology works through the
analogies of experience understood in a Kantian
sense as constitutive principles. However, it is
quite otherwise with those principles which
attempt to bring the existence of appearances of
the universe under a-priori rules (that is formulate
the causal principle of the world). For since the
contingent facticity of existence of the universe
cannot be constructed (we disregard attempts of
“constructing” this facticity by appealing to the
multiverse models for the facticity of multiverse
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itself cannot be scientifically constituted but only
postulated) the principles of analogy of experience
can only be applied to the relations in the universe
as already existent. In this sense they can have
only a regulative (not constitutive) character, and
in the same sense these principles cannot be
mathematical, but only philosophical. Kant
comments on this by contraposing the constitutive
nature of mathematical predication through a
proportion. For example: if there is a proportion
as an equality of the ratio of two known quantities
to another ratio in which one is unknown, then
this unknown is effectively constructed
(constituted). In application to the standard model
in cosmology it means, for example, that since the
ratio of the scale factors at present and at the time
of decoupling of matter from radiation (which is
equal to a thousand) is proportional to the inverse
ratio of temperatures at the same times, by
knowing the temperature at present one can infer
the temperature at decoupling, that is it can be
constructed. This type of constitution is applied
to the already existent and cannot be transferred
if the analogy of experience is extended to the
issue of the facticity of the universe, for example,
its origin. Here the proportion does not work and
hence the mathematical constitution of the origin
of the universe is simply impossible (the endless
series of aberrations approaching this origin
points to the fact that the computational synthesis
of the origin of the universe is not an accomplished
constitution, but an ongoing mode of
approximation mocking time itself). In this sense
to make an analogy from astronomical experience
to the experience of the universe as a whole does
not mean to establish a quantitative relation
between what is given in the limited empirical
realm and that which is intended as totality. It is
rather a qualitative relation: more specifically,
one can a-priori establish knowledge only of the
relation to the universe as a whole, but not of
what it is. This relation yields a rule for seeking
the universe as that member of experience which
is in relation to any other experience of the
ordinary things. Thus, that which can be named
by an analogy of experience represents only a
rule according to which the unity of experience
(experience of incarnate hypostatic existence in
the universe) may arise from the perception of
separate things and astronomical objects. Being a
rule, this analogy of experience does not tell us
how the empirical or intellectual intuition of the
universe comes about: in this it is not a principle
which is constitutive of the universe and its
appearances, but is a regulative norm for the unity
of experience through its particular mode of the
intuition of the universe as totality. That which is
observed here can be affirmed with respect to the
postulates of any empirical knowledge: the
facticity of appearance of empirical facts as
events cannot be subjected to the criteria of a
priori. Then the analogies of experience which
scientific cosmology attempts to stretch across
the frontiers of the empirical are distinguished
here not from the point of view of their certainty
(they are certain in their given facticity), but in
the nature of their evidence, that is as regards the
character of the intuitive factors involved. For
example, talking about the early stages of the
universe which by definition are beyond any
empirical verification, cosmology implicitly
appeals to the coherence of epistemic justification
of its claims related to the communal agreement
which represents a different nature of the evidence
related to the analogies of experience. The
analogies of experience express and represent
here rather the regulative delimiters of the
understanding. The important feature is that
whatever mode of understanding related to
analogies of experience cosmology uses, it places
its subject matter in rubrics of time which,
according to Kant, guarantees the unity of
experience (Kant 1933, A 177/B 219-220). In this
sense the universe of scientific cosmology always
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stands in relation to any experience in terms of
time. It is this feature that guarantees any positive
predication of the universe and explication of its
structure. However, being a limitation of
experience, the analogies of experience which
base themselves in time provide us only with a
fringe of the universe’s appearances, namely only
those aspects of the universe which allow their
manifestation through relation to time. Time
enters experience as that implicit horizon of
phenomena without which no appearance is
possible: time reveals itself as that which receives
this appearance and at the same “time” rejects it
to make it appear. The universe which cosmology
is speaking about represents thus the breakthrough
of its phenomenality, that is its visibility in the
background of the time-horizon which is over
there in advance. The universe in its appearing
(and thus further theoretical thematization) is
thus limited to that portion of the time-horizon
(which otherwise remains implicit and invisible)
which allows the universe’s actualisation as
temporalisation. The question now is whether
“the universe as a whole” does fit into such a
horizon, or, in other words, whether the universe
as a whole can adequately and exhaustively
manifest itself within the rubrics of this horizon?
A simple semantic reflection directs one to answer
in the negative to this question on purely
definitional grounds: the universe as a whole, as
the totality of “all in all” cannot be subjected to
any limitations and conditions of time, for it
exceeds all time. Then one must rephrase the
same question as to whether the universe as a
whole exceeds every horizon. Here we come to
the phenomenological understanding of the world
as the horizon of all horizons, exceeding all
particular horizons. The issue, however, is not to
dispense with the horizon in general in cosmology,
for in this case the very manifestation of the
universe would be prohibited; the question is how
to neutralise the delimiting anteriority of the
horizon (time) in order to avoid the conflict in
claiming the absoluteness of the phenomenon of
the universe (as not related to time). The problem
is how to avoid the conflict between an approach
to the universe as pure event (which is not
foreseeable, not knowable or reproducible), that is
as a saturated phenomenon, and the delimiting
anteriority of the horizon which makes its
particular manifestation possible. On the one
hand, the excess of intuition saturates the
phenomenon of the universe as communion (as
existence and life); in this sense it exceeds the
delimitations of ordinary experience, being de
facto its own foundation. On the other hand the
horizon of time makes possible discursive
definitions of experience of the universe as
communion, but in doing so this horizon itself
must be defined. However, this very definition
limits the definition of a horizon, so that the limits
of the discursive definition of experience of the
universe go together with the limitations in the
very structuring of the horizon. The universe
represented through the prism of this dialectic of
the defining and definable horizon is inevitably
manifested in a fringed phenomenality. Finally
one anticipates that if the universe is approached
as a pure event, that is as a saturated phenomenon,
it saturates its own horizon for there is no way out
from the totality of the universe and no reference
to the other (“sans porte, ni fenetre, sans autre, ni
autrui” (Marion 1992, p. 117). In fact, to ascribe
to the universe a single horizon would be a naïve
and abstract exercise, because the universe as it
appears to humanity in the course of history
exhibits itself through a plurality of horizons
none of which can precede or delimit the other.
One can even claim that the experience of the
universe through different horizons exhibits the
persistence of saturation, its multiplication and
cross-horizon saturation which does not relieve
the basic factor that the universe saturates the
intuition, exceeds the capacity of the understanding
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and the delimitation through the analogies of
experience rendering its incessant presence at the
bottom of any existential act. The plurality of
accounts of experience of the universe even in
scientific cosmology, such as the universe as an
astronomical whole, or the universe as a theoretical
construct of the all-unity, the infinite change of
theories and endless self-correction of theories
through observation shows that one deals here
with a saturated phenomenon. If one adds to this
the variety of genres expressing communion with
the universe starting from philosophical prose
and finishing with mystical poetry, involving a
personal element in communion as an opposite to
the impersonal, an anonymous depiction of the
universe through scientific naturalism, one then
escapes any necessity of justification of the same
fact that when one pronounces the word
“universe”, one invokes that which saturates
intuition and involves one’s ego in endless multifacet hermeneutics which acts as the constitutive
factor for this ego. Here cosmology exhibits a
very closed kinship to theology, whose account of
creation of the universe and the divine presence
in it involves not only the plurality of the exegesis
of the Gospels, including its patristic accounts,
but the variety of mystical experience of the
universe whose testimony is kept in endless
writings of saints, spiritual seers and liturgical
texts, all of which are referring to one and the
same experience, but whose different context is
irreducible and non-amendable in the course of
time. Nowadays, the unrestrained proliferation of
popular scientific accounts borrowing ideas from
main-stream research in theoretical cosmology
exhibits the same, although pseudo-priestly,
fervor towards preaching about the universe, in
which the horizon of encompassing the subject
matter not only does not stop but endlessly
corrects and complements itself through an
appeal to different analogies and topics from
other disciplines. In fact, the very phenomenon of
the popular scientific literature as well sciencefiction can be made analogous to Biblical exegesis:
indeed, whereas the Bible emerges as a main
source of interpretation in different intersecting
contexts, the scientific papers in narrow and highspecialised journals play a similar role by
providing for popular science an indefinite field
for various exegesis adjusted for different
audiences and serving different social and
ideological needs. In the case of cosmology, its
content and its texts themselves appear to be a
saturated phenomenon simply because they
provide a multiple contextual interpretation of
that which they speak about and render as their
content. Rephrasing it again, the open-endedness
of cosmological discourse, as well as its intrinsic
incompleteness delimited by the discursive
faculties, creates the natural conditions for
approaching its pronouncements and descriptions
as a narrative, which as such, is subject to a
further treatment by “cosmologists”, so to speak
of the second order, which deal not with the
universe per se but through reflection and
interpretation in mundane words of that which
has been established by scientific cosmology.
Thus the universe receives its duplication in
literature and becomes a subject of an independent
study by “cosmological linguists” and writers
who are restaging and rewriting the story always
exceeding the limits of any given context. Finally,
one must not forget the impact which the study of
the universe, cosmological literature and its massmedia treatment have on human perception of its
place in the universe, its happiness and anxiety,
and on practical stances on ecology and the value
of life.
The signifying conventions of contextlanguage affect those subjects who study
cosmology, but subjects are not the agents who
transform the language conventions pertaining
to this or that context. The possibility of
transformation inheres in the very temporal and
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spatial movement of concepts and corresponding
language, historical sensitivity and social delimiters
that are carried forward but not controlled by the
particular context-dependent citations which are
used by subjects. Even though one may intend
to transform the meaning conventions of words
in a given context, our intentions, by themselves
cannot establish the desired transformation
because one does not control the future course
of the signifying chain of questions and answers
arising from the human communion with the
universe.38 The transformation of contexts is not
subjected to any law in time, as it is not a process
implying causality; it reflects events related to
the human apprehension of existence here and
now and, therefore, at the mercy of an always
unforeseeable “future”.
It is the plurality of horizons or contexts
such that no horizon could delimit or precede the
created universe that justifies the absoluteness
of the universe as a saturated phenomenon. The
alleged “identity” of the universe “survives” the
multiplication of dimensions of its perception.
Then the question of identity of the universe as
a saturated phenomenon arises in an acute form:
if the universe cannot be subjected and held by
any horizon, because it gives itself as absolutely
free from analogy with any empirical law and
free from any network of relations with that
which has already been seen (or foreseen), can the
universe as creation have an identity at all if the
very fullness of multiple contexts pertaining to
being manifested to humanity cannot contain or
encompass the universe? Can the universe enter
into relationship with itself in order to render to
it its own identity? The simplest form of identity
available to the human grasp is the generic
relation between the universe with itself which
can be symbolically presented through a formula
“the universe is the universe”. It seems, however,
that for the universe as a saturated phenomenon
even this is impossible, for the very relationship
with itself entails such a differentiation in a single
“unity” of the universe, that it becomes a definition
of this universe from the outside of the initial
non-split unity. 39 In this sense to speak about the
identity of the universe is to enter the tension with
its understanding as a saturated phenomenon.
As a saturated phenomenon is neither visable
according to quantity, nor bearable according to
quality, absolute according to relation and thus
unconditioned by the horizon, this phenomenon
escapes the conditions of its own ability for being
displayed and configured. Thus no positive sign
of the universe’s identity is possible. However the
withdrawal of the universe’s identity and, at the
same time, its escaping presence through the act of
communion, retains its apophatic manifestation.
In spite of humanity’s subjection of the universe
to the identifying relation with itself, it only
remains a symbol, an apophatic manifestation
of the impossibility of this relation expressed in
rubrics of the identity of human consciousness.
The intellectual posing of self-identity of the
universe which effectively splits this identity in
itself, creates contexts and horizons pertaining
to empirical experience and thus reducing the
saturated phenomenon to a glimpse of that
which is neither visable according to quantity,
nor bearable according to quality, but absolute
according to relation.
Creation and consciousness
Now we come to the climax in understanding
creation, or the universe as a whole, as a
saturated phenomenon which positions it outside
of any general conditions of experience which
are demanded by transcendental philosophy.
The question is how the saturated phenomenon
of the universe is related to thought in general.
According to Kant the object of experience and
the power of knowing must agree in order to be
suitable for the source of experience, that is, the
transcendental “I”. The possibility of phenomenon
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depends on its fitness to the conditions of
experience as originating in the “I”: the “I” can
know things which this same “I” can access
and comprehend in the conditions of this “I’s”
facticity. Correspondingly if a phenomenon does
not “agree” or “correspond” to the “I’s” power of
knowing, this phenomenon cannot appear, that
is there will not be any phenomenon at all but
just a perceptive aberration.40 In the case of the
universe as a saturated phenomenon the “I” by
definition experiences the disagreement between
a “potential phenomenon of the universe”
expected to appear in the manner of ordinary
objects and its subjective experience through
sheer belonging to the universe (communion).
Consequently the “I” cannot constitute the
universe as an object whose concept would
agree with the conditions of experience of the
universe as communion. Correspondingly, the
failure to objectify the universe does not mean
that there is an appearance of nothing and
the implied communion is an empty phrase.
One has here the intuitive saturation by the
universe which imposes itself by excess which
makes this universe effectively invisible and
incomprehensible to the extent that it cannot be
tolerated and thus seems to be incommensurable.
It is the universe as a saturated phenomenon
which resists any regard with respect to itself as
an object: it engulfs the subjectivity of the “I” to
such an excess that this “I” fails, and any attempt
of the universe’s constitution is suspended. The
universe is visible (in its particular pieces and
moments) but it nevertheless cannot be looked
at. It is this feature of visibility as presence and
at the same time the impossibility of gazing at it
that characterises the saturated phenomenon.
On the side of a human being a meeting with
a saturated phenomenon of the universe can be
characterised as a condition of not being adapted
to and not being at home in the world. In analogy
with J.-F. Lyotard, (Lyotard 1991, p. 4), the meeting
with the saturated phenomenon can be described
as a return back to the condition of infancy, for
as infants, humans are helplessly exposed to a
strange and overwhelming environment while
lacking the ability to articulate what affects them.
By reducing this analogy to the bodily functions,
the universe as saturated phenomenon deprives
the body of its attunement to the universe. In a
trivial sense there is the body’s contingent, and
literally free-flying, position in the space-time of
the universe so that it is displaced and hence not
attuned to the universe. In a more sophisticated
sense, being in the universe but constituting itself
through communion with the universe as a whole,
a body is nowhere (according to Kant, as noumen,
human being is outside of space and time) and
thus is not attuned to anything.41 This condition of
not being attuned to the universe signifies a gap
between sensibility and the possibility of mental
articulation or linguistic expressibility in situations
when human beings meet saturated phenomena.
If sensibility is a condition of unmasterable and
vulnerable openness to excesses of affection, then
the passage from sensation to articulation is not
guaranteed: what we have here is the suspension
of comprehension and its linguistic expressibility,
a break between them which indicates that the
saturated phenomenon de facto breaks that which
could be called the conditions of experience
corresponding to ordinary phenomena (poor in
intuitive content).42
Then the question is: what does the “I”
“see” in the conditions of the broken link
between the overabundance of intuition and the
possibility of discursive expressibility? What is
that which appears to the “I” under the rubrics
of the saturated phenomenon of the created
universe? The answer comes (not unexpectedly
from a phenomenological point of view, although
extended beyond it) from the recognition that what
the “I” definitely realises is its own incapacity
to constitute this phenomenon once and for all,
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certain and accommodated to its pre-existent
and finite (as accumulated in time) rubrics of
experience. The universe is received through
the “I’s” sight as pure donation which cannot be
caught as complete in rubrics of thought at any
given moment of time. One can say that to wrestle
with the saturated phenomenon of the universe is
to be in a constant despair of chasing its escaping
presence which constantly reminds the “I” of the
obfuscated nature of its handling the universe
implanted in the inevitability of the “I’s” created
finitude.43 The presence of the universe in human
life and the very definitiveness of the I thus itself
is subjected to the donation of the universe and it
is the “I” which is not a-priori and independent
of the universe in its free willing ambitions of
tackling it, but it is the “I” which is positioned by
the nature of the universe’s speech into the passive
voice thus becoming a dative of manifestation and
the nominative of disclosure only to the extent the
universe itself, being created and enhypostasized
by the Divine Logos, makes it possible. The “I”
as being unable to constitute the phenomenon
of the created universe as a whole experiences
itself as being constituted by this phenomenon
through inescapable creaturely participation.
The hypothetical identity of the universe, sought
and intended on the grounds of the free-willing
ambitions, remains no more than an unfulfilled
intentionality which characteristically returns
back to the “I” which is being constituted by
the universe as if the “I” is being gazed at by it.
However one must not be mesmerised by this
conclusion: the “I” is constituted by the universe
only in the sense that both the “I” and the universe
are enhypostasized by their hypostatic otherness in
an intrinsically coinherent way, when one cannot
exist without the other. The “I” experiences itself
as a subject of the endless dialogue in which it is
involved through pure donation of creation to all
humans as creaturely existents in the creaturely
universe. In this sense the response of humanity
to the invitation to participate in this dialogue has
certain modalities of both fear (as not attunement)
and gratitude for the gift of being-in-the-universe.
By being in the universe the “I” does not have (it
simply cannot have) any dominant point of view
over the intuition of the universe as an expression
of the very fact of life. The universe as a saturated
phenomenon engulfs subjectivity by removing its
parts and spatial extension. In a temporal sense,
the universe is always already there, so that all
events of subjectivity’s life unfold from the neverending donating event of the universe as constant
coming into being, in which the unforeseeable
nature of every consequent moment entails the
unending historicity and unpredictability of
existence.44 In a spatial sense, the contingency
as concrete factuality of an event of appearance
of the “I’s” life, which is not foreseeable and
phenomenologically hidden from the “I’s”
comprehension, makes its position in the universe
out of tune (in spite of the fine tuning related to
consubstantiality with the universe implied and
explicated by the anthropic inference) through
the fact that the universe engulfs the “I” with the
intuitive flood, which ultimately breaks the link
between the intuitive and discursive mind and
thus deprives the “I” of clear comprehension of
the created universe leaving the human “I” with
no place in the universe. Its “place” is its sheer
facticity and any constitution of the universe’s
space by the heroic modalities of human free
will just reduce the universe to its limited
phenomenality, the phenomenality which is not;
for the universe is the saturated phenomenon
invisable according to quantity, unbearable
according quality, unconditioned according to
relation and irreducible to the “I” according
to modality (Marion 2001, p. 211). From a
phenomenological point of view the universe as a
saturated phenomenon represents the conceptual
completion of the definition of the phenomenon
as that which appears of itself, and starting from
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itself (Heidegger 1998, p. 54), since it appears
without any limitations by horizons and without
being able to be reduced to the rubrics of human
subjectivity.
The situation with “knowledge” of the
universe as a saturated phenomenon becomes
characteristically similar to that of knowledge
of God in theology if one remembers that what
is called “knowledge” in theology is not related
to the discursive faculties of cognition but
rather to mystical awareness based on personal
participation and communion with the Divine.
Correspondingly, in theology one cannot be
detached from what is intended as the subject
matter of its enquiry; one needs faith and
participation in that which is studied. In this case
the “knowledge” of God can not be “objective”
(in the sense of scientific rationality) because it
depends on a mode of personal experience and
involvement. This suggests that theology implies
a special understanding of “objectivity”, different
from the natural attitude where the reason attempts
to separate itself from attachments (contexts) in
order to be detached from the finite object (which
is constituted as freed from attachments). Thus, in
theology, no prior assessment of the attachments
to its “object” is possible, for the definitiveness
of the perceptive intellect is revealed to itself
only through its relationship with the divine as
god-given capacity. This is the moment when the
intuition saturates over the intellect in its attempt
to grasp its own facticity, and it is this saturation
as such which indicates the inseparable union
of consciousness and its source in the Divine.
As a simple result any imagined deprivation of
this donating intuition of its source (that is the
objectivization of the Divine) would mean the
immediate cessation of subjectivity in general.
Thus we face an interesting reversal (with
respect to scientific knowledge): the “objective”
knowledge of God presupposes saturation over
all discursive images of the Divine (apophaticism)
which paradoxically means the impossibility of
detachment from communion with God. If one
now turns back to the universe as a saturated
phenomenon one realises that the commonly
accepted objectivity in scientific cosmology based
on the presupposition of detachment from all
personal, subjective attachments to the universe
becomes impossible. By paraphrasing the words
of T. Torrance, formulated in a theological context,
it is sheer attachment to the universe that detaches
us from our preconceptions about it; while
detaching ourselves from our preconceptions
we become free for the universe, and therefore
free for true “knowledge” of it (Torrance
1996, p. 36). Then philosophical cosmology is
constituted in conversation and communion
with the universe which communicates itself
to us in acts of donation and while gazing at
us it requires of us an answering relation in
receiving, acknowledging, understanding, and in
active personal participation in the relationship
it establishes between us (Ibid., p. 39). It is this
answering relation in receiving, acknowledging,
understanding, and active personal participation in
the relationship with the universe that constitutes
the “I”.45 Certainly within a theological sensibility
one must not assign any para-hypostatic features
to the universe as actively invoking in us a
conscious response. The response is provoked
by the fact of our inseparability with the created
universe, but as an action and event it is rooted in
the ability of man to articulate its own existence
and the existence of the universe which does not
obviously follow the logic of consubstantiality,
but originates in the Divine image as a particular
mode of enhypostasization of the human
formation of the universe by the Logos.
When cosmological imagination positions
itself outside the universe either in an attempt to
“see” the universe in its entire spatio-temporal
span, or, alternatively, when the idea of multiverse
is invoked, as if the mind could gaze upon the
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universe from the other-worldly-multiverse
position, consciousness attempts an impossible
act. In both these cases, since consciousness
cannot quit its communion with this universe,
all appeals to other worlds have a rhetorical and
simply eidetic character, because their imagery
derives from the rubrics of consciousness
embodied in this universe.46 Thus the very
logic of transcending this universe has traces of
presence of incarnate human subjectivity, so that
the transcendence remains in the conditions of
immanence. This last thought can be accentuated
phenomenologically.
In the natural attitude the universe as a
whole, being a synonym of creation, is posited
as existing objectively out there, transcendent to
the field of consciousness. Thus the universe as a
whole is subject to a phenomenological critique.
However, this critique does not simply imply that
the question about its reality must be suspended
and cosmology is brought to a methodological
halt. It is important to realise that transcendence
of the universe takes place not through an
ascending series of the worldly astronomical
phenomena or theoretical causation (which had
been critically exposed by Kant), but through
observing teleologies of explanation which
rather characterise the activity of consciousness.
Hence the phenomenological reduction exercised
with respect to the universe cannot reach its
goal for it disregards the universe as an evergoing accomplishment related to the teleology
of the human spirit (implanted in the promise of
salvation and eternal life). Here phenomenology
does not discern the difference between the
universe as a mental construction which is subject
to such an operation of consciousness as reduction
and the universe as communion whose presence
in consciousness is exactly that ontological link
which makes this consciousness possible at all
and which can be cut off only in abstraction.47
One cannot bracket or reduce the universe as
communion by using this consciousness because
by insisting on this, this consciousness deprives
itself of the conditions of its embodied existence
and hence destroys itself as the intentional
consciousness of the universe.
The transcendental reduction of the universe
as a whole performed by classical phenomenology
in order to neutralise the natural attitude points to
a simple fact that the representation of the universe
as completely transcendent to consciousness
cannot acquire an ontological quality, remaining
“transcendent” but only within the immanence of
consciousness. Phenomenology rightly suggests
the dismissing of all intellectual idols of the
universe as pretending to exhaust the reality of
the universe as communion: any discursive image
of the universe remains only an image and thus
incomplete. This returns us back to the principle
of apophaticism: in the apophatic approach the
discursive reason struggles with the idea of
creation, or the universe as a whole, because this
reason cannot position itself with respect to the
universe in terms of “closer” or “far”. The universe
is present in the background of existence through
relationship and communion in such a way that
allows one to express this presence ecstatically
through music, painting, poetry etc.48 However,
this experience cannot be verbalised and expressed
in definitions of physics and mathematics. It is
exactly this paradoxical “presence in absence”
of the universe as a whole which allows the
human spirit to make the distinction between
what is absent (and hence always suspected in
the inadequacy of its expression in concepts and
then legitimately bracketed away), and what is
present (that is, what is left after the bracketing
of conceptual idols) and hence allegorically
expressed in mundane language without any
risk of being mixed with the ineffable essence of
the universe. In fact, one can say that the very
bracketing of the conceptual idols of the universe
is possible only because the resulting conceptual
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absence of the universe, which always bedazzles
human imagination, is compensated by the reality
of its concrete presence, manifested in the very
possibility of thinking about the universe.49 The
implicit presence of the created universe in all
acts of the incarnate human subjectivity cannot
be phenomenologically reduced (that is bracketed
as transcendent and “non-real”) because if this
could happen, the incarnate consciousness
would be bracketed away and hence eliminated.
Obviously this would entail the destruction of
the factual consciousness itself, and thus lead
to a sheer existential contradiction. J. Sharon
compared this inseparability of a human being
and the universe with its attachment to the
universe as its mother, the attachment through
“love, but not only by reason” (“par l’Amour et
non par sa seule raison”) (Charon 1974, p. 14).
Humanity, in spite of its non-attunement and
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
homelessness in the astronomical universe is
predisposed to love the universe through the
inherent Divine image in man, for through love
of the universe as good creation of a good God
that man loves God as his Father. It is in this love
as a theological commitment that ultimately lies
in the foundation of cosmology as the study of the
created universe.
Acknowledgements:
I would like to express my feelings of
gratitude to George Horton for reading the
manuscript and making helpful suggestions.
This publication was made possible through
the support of a grant from the John Templeton
Foundation. The opinions expressed in this
publication are those of the author and do
not necessarily reflect the views of the John
Templeton Foundation.
For introduction to the theological discussion of creation see a classical paper (Florovsky 1976, pp. 43-78). See also (Florovsky 1949,pp. 53-77). There are many modern books dealing with creation that have a historical, as well as systematic
character. See, for example: (May 1994), (Ward 1996), (Torrance 1998), (Pannenberg 1993), (Davies, 2004), (Pannenberg
2008), (Theokritoff 2009), (Barker 2010).
Talking about Divine presence in the world we imply Christian panentheism: God is present in the world without loosing
his transcendent essence (he is present in absence). Correspondingly the language of God as “wider reality” in which the
world is embedded is metaphorical: the world is contingent upon God, who by being present in its signs in the world, yet
remains beyond the world. See (Clayton, Peacocke 2004).
The idea of the multiverse in modern cosmology corresponds to a perennial philosophical problem of plurality of worlds.
For a detailed account of the ongoing discussion see a volume (Carr 2007). For a recent scientific critique of the idea of the
multiverse see (Ellis, 2011).
See more details in (Marion 2010, pp. 253-69).
As was stated by V. Lossky, “the mysteries of the divine economy are thus unfurled on earth, and that is why the Bible
wants to bind us to the earth [that is our universe, AN]. ... it forbids us to lose ourselves in cosmic immensities (which our
fallen nature cannot grasp anyway, except in their aspect of disintegration), ... it wants to win us from usurpation of fallen
angels and bind us to God alone... In our fallness we cannot even place our world amidst these spiritual immensities”
(Lossky 1997, p. 64).
Since “the Divine image of the world always remains above and beyond creation by nature” (Florovsky 1976, p. 72), what
is implied here is the retaining of the image of the world in the archetype of Christ through grace, that is without compromising ontological boundaries between God and creation. In different words, the Divine image of the world can be linked
to its enhypostasized identity. However, since there remains a transcendent gulf between That who is enhypostasizing
and that which is enhypostasized, all human conjectures about the identity of the universe, even if they are accompanied
by the graceful enlightenment do not reflect the image of the world as it is present in the Divine nature. We are capable of
“seeing” the image of the world, its identity only, “as puzzling reflections in a mirror” (1 Cor. 13:12).
This co-relation with the “community” of all things in the world was characterised by the French philosopher and writer
Paul Claudel in terms of “catholicity”. Without having an idea about such a co-relation, that is without a universal, catholic
idea, it is impossible to understand the sense and meaning of life; see (Claudel 1934, p. 9).
A critical analysis of such a hermeneutics related to cosmological models of Hawking and Penrose was undertaken in
(Nesteruk 2003), chapters 5 and 6.
The idea of the unity of humanity as humanity’s hope to acquire knowledge of this unity in an eschatological limit is discussed in the paper (Goutner, 2013).
Hermann Weyl expressed, in a different context, a similar thought that “…the mere postulation of the external world does
not really explain what it was supposed to explain, namely, the fact that I, as a perceiving and acting being, fi nd myself
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placed in such a world” (Weyl 2009, p. 50). Weyl linked the question of the world’s reality to the question of the origin of
its mathematical harmony and the possibility of its grasp by human reason.
This English translation is from (Sherwood 1955, p. 192).
A famous example of such a hypothetical law is R. Penrose’s Weyl Curvature Hypothesis postulating the low gravitational
entropy in the beginning of the universe. See, for example, Penrose’ classical paper (Penrose 1979), or a more recent book
(Penrose 2005, pp. 726-32, 765-68).
According to St. Augustine this cannot be a “beginning” as if it would be “seen” from the outside of the world. Augustine
in Confessions, XI addressed the problem of the origin of time directly affi rming that: “The way, God, in which you made
heaven and earth was not that you made them either in heaven or on earth....Nor did you make the universe within the
framework of the universe. There was nowhere for it to be made before it was brought into existence.” (Augustine1991, p.
225). According to Augustine the universe was not created by God in time, but was created with time Augustine, City of
God, XI:6. This is the only consistent expression of the Christian affi rmation of creatio ex nihilo. The nihilo could not be
something, it could not have any attributes of created things, it must be an absolute philosophical no-thing.
It is interesting to note that the fi rst ‘scientific’ ideas on the origination of the universe in pre-existent space and time were
proposed by Newton who intended to reconcile the Biblical account of creation, where the world had to have a beginning,
with his view that time could have neither beginning nor end. Newton asserted that the visible universe was brought into
existence by God in the past which is separated from us by fi nite time, but this took place within the absolute and infi nite
space and time. E. McMullin points out that the position of Newton was a departure from the medieval Aristotelians who
were not inclined to separate creation of matter and time (McMullin 1998, p. 44). The creation of matter in Newton’s model
is detached from the creation of time. One sees here a fundamental difference not only with the contemporary views based
on General Relativity, where space and time are relational upon matter (so that the split in origination of matter and time
becomes theoretically inconsistent) but even with Maximus the Confessor for whom space and time where inseparable
elements of the creaturely nature of the world; see (von Balthasar 2003, p. 139).
In modern cosmology such an interpretation corresponds to different models of the multiverse. It has also particular connotations with Penrose’s old suggestion that the special initial conditions of our universe responsible for arrow of time in
it, are set up from outside through choosing them out of many other possibilities, which could lead to different universes;
see (Penrose 2005, pp. 726-32).
Cosmology claims that the universe is expanding with acceleration so that its “volume” will increase indefi nitely.
On the one hand, being inseparable from reality in virtue of its embodied intentional consciousness, human persons can
exist only in the context of their immediate non-distance from reality. On the other hand, being a hypostatic formation,
that is being fundamentally different from other material things, human persons are “infi nitely” distant from those other
things. The ability to distance themselves from outer things (even, in abstraction, from one’s own body), makes human
persons equally positioned with respect to all objects in the universe, so that they can be articulated by human subjectivity
as different and uniformly distant from it. Paradoxically the infinite ontological distance from all things in the universe
makes human subjectivity to be equally commensurable (and thus close) with respect to all objects in the universe, including the universe as a whole.
A famous Russian scientist and priest P. Florensky wrote in the same vein: “Nature and man are both infi nite. And
it is because of being infi nite, that they are commensurable and can be parts of each other…Man is in the world,
but man is complex to the same extent as the world. The world is in man, but the world is also complex as man”
(Florensky 1994, p.186); “Man is the recapitulation of the world, its summary; the world is the disclosure of man, its
projection. (Ibid., p. 187).
The meaning of the term enhypostsis and enhypostatic is discussed in (Nesteruk 2003, pp. 110-17; 2004).
It is implied here that a glance at nature and the universe as created by God is accessible to humanity only through the Holy
Spirit. Correspondingly, for being sure that one indeed deals with the spiritual vision of the universe through the prism of
Christian faith it is necessary to make a distinction between Christian spirituality rooted in ecclesial practices implying
the invocation of the Spirit, and all other non-Christian and arbitrary appeals to generic spirituality. See in this regard a
paper (Shmaliy 2012, pp. 79-94).
Here one can point towards S. Bulgakov’s thought who advocated that the adequate description of the relation between the
world and God cannot be established on the grounds of mechanical causality, that is that God is the cause of the world. This
relation is that of the creator and the created. The act of creation of the world is rather an ecstatic transcendence of God
through this creation. Creation manifests itself through relationship between God and humanity. This relationship does
not subordinate to the constituting constraints of its manifesting historicity. This relationship, as well as the relationship
between God and the world is subordinated only to the promise of God for salvation and eternal life, that is of renewed
creation (Bulgakov 2002, pp. 221-22).
This philosophical motive is developed in (Levinas 1987, pp. 39-57).
“Thus then, in accordance with the likely account, we must declare that this world came to be, by the god’s providence, in
the very truth a living creature endowed with soul and reason”: (Plato 1965, p. 19).
“Wise men say…that the heavens and the earth, gods and men, are bound together by fellowship and friendship, and order
and temperance and justice, and for this reason they call the sum of things the ‘ordered’ universe (kosmos), … not the
world of disorder or riot. ” (Plato1963, p. 279).
“For this world, having received its full complement of living creatures, mortal and immortal, has become a visible living creature embracing ball that are visible, and an image of the intelligible, a perceptible god, supreme in greatness and
excellence, in beauty and perfection…”: (Plato 1965, 92c 5-9, p. 138).
“Taking thought, therefore, he found that among things that are by nature visible none that is without intelligence will ever
be better that one that is rational, when each is taken as a whole, and further that intelligence cannot be present in anything
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other than soul. Because of this reasoning, when he constructed the universe he fashioned reason within soul and soul
within body, to the end that the work he was accomplishing might be of its nature as excellent and perfect as possible.”
(Plato 1965, 30b 1-6, p. 19).
One can invoke an allegoric parallel: if one sees stars and their constellations in the sky in a dispassionate curiosity, one
does not “hear” the music of the heaven which manifests the universe in its beauty (one sees the script, but does not hear
the melody).
(Heidegger 1998, p. 266) (emphasis added). The terminology of clearing of being can receive a strictly physical interpretation by referring to the present discussions in cosmology that the present state of the universe, as we observe it, is
unique because it is only now that we can observe such features of the universe as it evolution and its enormous large-scale
structure. In this sense we indeed have a sort of clearing of being, its unique unconcelament to us. See in this respect, for
example, (Abrams, Primack 2012, pp. 105-119).
Geometrically, the light from remote objects which reaches us on Earth, forms a light cone of the past which selects a
particular part of the universe which is accessible to observations.
More detailed description of the phenomenality of events can be found in (Marion 2010, 244-308).
On the basis of summation of astronomical objects: (Kant 1933, A163/B204).
Sometime the universe as a whole is depicted through a geometric shape as if one could position oneself outside it (see, for
example, “classical” Hawking’s imagery of the universe with imaginary time (Hawking, Penrose 1996, pp. 86, 97, 102), or
recent Penrose’s representation of the universe through the cylindrical cycles (Penrose 2010, p. 148).
See, for example, the model of Penrose from (Penrose 2005) quoted above.
If there are infi nitely many different initial conditions, the a-priori probability for taking place of those which correspond
to our universe is zero: p=0. Correspondingly the informational uncertainty related to the choice of these conditions is
infi nity: I = ∞ so that one needs to invoke the idea of an omniscient being (Creator in Penrose’s terms) who overcomes this
informational barrier and makes the choice. However from the point of view of human beings the choice of such conditions
remains a sheer impossibility.
One could treat the “cosmological fluid” of clusters and galaxies as such a substance which gives rise to its contingent
accident, that is our galaxy, solar system, the planet Earth. In a temporal sense such a substance could be associated with
the Big Bang, containing in the encapsulated form all consequents realisations of matter formations.
J. A. Wheeler advocated a view that the temporality of the past is constructed, that is the ‘past’ is theory. The past has no
existence except as it is recorded in the present. By detecting what questions our quantum registering equipment shall put
in the present, we have an undeniable choice in what we have the right to say about the past (See, for example, (Wheeler
1988, p. 13)). This thought must be placed into even more general conviction that in the ultimate scheme of things there is
no time or temporality at all. Temporality is the human construction: “The word Time came, not from heaven, but from
the mouth of man, an early thinker, his name long lost. If problems attend the term, they are of our own making” (Wheeler
1994, p. 6).
The concept that there is not past and future, but an ever ongoing present was developed in (Comte-Sponville, 1999).
This is a natural consequence of the inherent apophaticism in comprehension of the universe: since signifiers do not exhaust that which is signified, the signifying chain of cited words used to express the experience of the universe in a given
context cannot be controlled by that what is aimed to be signified.
This is similar to the Fichetan foundational thought that from the initial unity “A=A” (implied in the identity of one’s “I”:
“I=I”) it follows its split in itself posing the “not A”.
A typical example of such an aberration is the so called dark matter and dark energy, which are predicted theoretically, but
whose material existence has not yet been confi rmed experimentally.
Indeed, the body, which is consubstantial only to 4 percent of matter of the universe can be said to be nowhere.
One can draw an analogy with the Kantian sublime: the experience of the sublime indicates not so much the classical dualism of fi nite sensibility and infi nite reason as the irreducible heterogeneity of human faculties.
The constitution takes place on the grounds of free will through which humanity attempts to overcome its fi nite circumscription by the conditions of nature.
This existence was described by P. Brockelman as “the continuous eruption into being of those myriad forms, the active
that-ing and is-ing of everything which emerges into consciousness in the experience of wonder” (Brockelman 1999, p.
79).
It is worth making a parallel with mystery: the universe is a mystery, for human beings contemplating it are involved in
it without any chance of distancing themselves from it. “Mysteries are not truths that lie beyond us; they are truths that
comprehend us” (Keen 1969, p. 25).
What happens in all such abstractions from reality is that consciousness imposes itself as a qualitatively different state
of being, including not only the physical world as such, but the conditions of consciousness’ hypostatic incarnation. The
difficulty here is that consciousness not only disembodies itself, but deprives itself of personal, characteristics. In this
case the noetic pole of all predications about the universe degenerates into an impersonal and anonymous awareness
which wanders at liberty upon that physical reality, which, while being by construction the intentional correlate of this
consciousness, cannot limit or condition the very foundation of this intentionality.
It is the undeniable communion with the universe which, as was asserted by Kant, makes its articulation by reason (which
imagines the universe as object) intrinsically antinomial.
C.f. with theology where the expression of the experience of the Divine invokes all forms of visual and performing arts. The art represents an acute form of expression of communion with the universe; see, for example, (Grosz
2008, pp. 23-24). There are numerous examples when the presence of cosmic immensities caused different poetic
expressions either of the sense of awe and unity with the cosmos or the horror of being lost in the hostile universe.
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For example, one can refer to the lyrics of Ruben Dario for whom to understand humanity, meant to understand the
universe and thus to affi rm the unity of “all in all” in the universe in a pantheistic fashion; see, for example, (Jrade,
1980, pp. 691-98).
The presence of the universe is inerasable from the very fact of our consciousness. If one submits what is named “the
universe as a whole” to the reduction only in so far as one defi nes it by transcendence (and insofar as one compares this
particular transcendence with that, in fact quite different, of the object in the natural attitude) one exercises here an act of
a radical immanence to consciousness, and in this sense the universe as communion would be confi rmed by a reduction.
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Вселенная как насыщенный феномен:
Концепция творения мира в свете
современной космологии и философии
А.В. Нестерук
Университет Портсмута
Лайон Гэйт Бюлдинг,
ПОРТСМУТ, РО1 3НF, Великобритания
В этой статье мы развиваем учение о так называемых насыщенных феноменах современного
французского философа Жана-Люка Мариона, применяя его к космологии, а именно к
представлению о вселенной как целом. Такой подход соответствует сдвигу в рассмотрении
“вселенной как целого” как эстетической, а не рациональной идеи. Развивается аргумент,
что избыток интуиции вселенной по сравнению с ее дискурсивным представлением
позиционирует ее как насыщенный феномен. На этом основании делается вывод о
неразделимости содержания сознания о вселенной и самого сознания. В той мере, в какой
вселенная не может быть осознана интеллектуально, сознательный субъект формируется
вселенной, приобретая тем самым статус микрокосма в очень нетривиальном смысле.
Поскольку понятие вселенной в целом коррелирует с богословски понимаемым творением
мира из ничего, показано, что любой подход к творению в естественной установке сознания
невозможен, ибо сотворение артикулируется из сознания, которое тоже является
сотворенным. Таким образом, сотворение входит в определенность сознания, которое
сформировано ее насыщающей данностью сотворенного.
Ключевые слова: сознание, космология, творение,
бесконечность, насыщенный феномен, вселенная.
событие,
опыт,
человечество,
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