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2020 Vol. 11 № 2

The phenomenology of Pushkin’s ‘universal sympathy (based on ‘Аscene from ‘Faust’, ‘The feast in the time of plague’, and ‘the Wanderer’)

Abstract

This article attempts to approach the discovery of what Dostoevsky called Pushkin’s ‘great secret’. In his essay ‘Pushkin’, Dostoevsky wrote that the poet had ‘a capacity for uni­versal sympathy’. The ‘secret’ of Pushkin is analysed in this article in the context of the gen­eral cultural problem of fundamental ontological predicates, which determined the main cul­tural codes of the literary worlds reflected in the poet’s oeuvre. The methodological approach is based on Valentin Nepomnyashchiy’s concept of the poetic momentum of Pushkin’s literary work, which is always in the stress field between the Christmas and Easter meta-codes. This field dictates the solution to the main Christian problem of correlations in the dialogue be­tween God and the human being. It is concluded that Pushkin was aware of the dangers of ‘the mystery of iniquity’, which is closely connected with the ideas of Gnosticism when par­taking spiritually and poetically of the literary phenomenology of Goethe’s tragedy Faust, John Wilson’s poem ‘The city of the plague’, and John Bunyan’s allegorical novel Pilgrim’s Progress. The article emphasises that Pushkin used his ‘capacity for universal sympathy’ to incorporate those dangers in both life and poetry. The hermeneutics of poetry is also dealt with in its connection to the hermeneutics of faith within the context of Russia’s and Western Eu­rope’s eschatological objectives, which shaped the cultural codes of the two territories.

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On fate and/or providence in Pushkin’s short story ‘The blizzard’

Abstract

It has been repeatedly noted that there are similarities between Pushkin’s short story ‘The blizzard’, Zhukovsky's ballad ‘Svetlana’, from which Pushkin borrowed the epigraph, and Burger's ‘Lenora’, which was twice used by Zhukovsky in different contexts. Differences in the functioning of the traditional plot are considered against the background of the interrela­tion and interdependence between fate, chance, and free will. In a Christian reading, the atti­tudes of the main characters of the three works to God's providence explain the motives be­hind their actions, the further course of events, and the endings of the works.

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Pushkin texts in the description of characters by Dostoevsky and Nabokov

Abstract

In his novels, Dostoevsky refers to the Pushkin text to describe characters. For Dostoev­sky, Pushkin is an ethical and aesthetic touchstone; the writer’s voice is consonant with that of the poet’s persona. In some cases, the Pushkin text is embedded in religious discourse (the parable of the prodigal son). In interpreting the Pushkin text, Dostoevsky’s characters present and disclose themselves. The ‘dreamer’ from ‘White Nights’ invokes the Pushkin text to con­vey the values of his own. In her peculiar account of the ‘poor knight’ ballad, Aglaya is trans­forming religious discourse into aesthetic and mundane. Pushkin’s St Petersburg text, whose sign is wet snow, creates the space in which contradiction-ridden Hermann (The Queen of Spades) and Dostoevsky’s paradoxalists develop. The Pushkin code in Dostoevsky’s texts is what the images of characters are built on. It is a text-producing and plot-building technique and an element of literary discourse, of author-reader interactions. These techniques are used by Vladimir Nabokov in Despair and “The Visit to the Museum”.

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Time and eternity in the literary image of the church procession: Pushkin’s Boris Godunov and Shmeleff’s The Year of the Lord

Abstract

This article considers the depiction of the church procession to examine the literary inter­pretation of time and eternity in Alexander Pushkin’s historical drama Boris Godunov and Ivan Shmeleff’s novel The Year of the Lord. The two texts share fundamental similarities in literary images. The church procession is portrayed as a manifestation of eternity in the tan­gible reality of this world. Despite their common temporal nature, images in Boris Godunov and The Year of the Lord differ in terms of both motivation (state-driven in Pushkin’s dra­ma and public-driven in Shmeleff’s novel) and the degree of detail. The description is con­densed and script-driven in Boris Godunov, whereas the church procession in The Year of the Lord unfolds before the reader to reveal personal, family-related, and public aspects of the phenomenon.

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Pushkin as a personal myth of the Russian avantgarde

Abstract

This article analyses strategies for cultural appropriation and the appropriation of Push­kin’s personality and oeuvre by the Russian avant-garde. The treatment of Pushkin by the avant-garde is considered as a peculiar variant of cultural apophaticism when the object of reflection is asserted through its consistent negation. The factography of the Russian avant-garde proves that, from its earliest stages the creative system has been constructing its own Pushkin myth, within which the poet has the role of both an object of cultural overcoming and the reference point for the development of a new art. Through negation, the avant-garde strives to ‘discharge’ Pushkin and to show his strangeness to classical cultural models. By making the poet its own, the avant-garde uses him to secure its position in the literary field. Another focus of the article is the place and role of the Pushkin substrate in the poetry and theoretical treatises of Aleksei Kruchyonykh. In his works Pushkin is an object of poetical overcoming and  a pole of attraction-repulsion. He is a touchstone, a reference point for the conceptualisation of a new literature. In developing his theory of the shift, Kruchyonykh views Pushkin as a ‘sound-poet’. That analytical position made it possible to move from dis­missing him as ‘a deaf singer’ to the avant-gardist glorification of Pushkin as a genius who worked with the sound texture of the poem. Kruchyonykh demonstrates that for Pushkin the shift is a powerful semantic generator of poetry, a tool that makes an error ‘the rule of break­ing rules’: semantic deviations turn into neologisms, whereas the shift itself enters the realm of productive poetic techniques.

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On the Pushkin text in the poetry of Perestroika

Abstract

This article is devoted to Perestroika poets referring to the Pushkin text as a ‘tuning fork’ in reconfiguring poetics. The study aims to show that, in this case, intertextual connection create a special text-within-a-text. The corpus, intertextual, and compositional methods are used to analyse Pushkin-invoking texts by Yuri Arabov, Vladimir Druk, Timur Kibirov, and other poets. It is concluded that these authors perceive Pushkin’s poetry as a lexicon whose units can be used for building countless cycles of poetic reflections on the world as well as on poetry and the role of the poet. The donor text is an interlinear gloss for the recipient text. The implicit ‘alien’ and the explicit ‘own’ words merge into a single text. Perestroika poets inherit from Pushkin polystylism, a propensity to parody when analysing cultural codes and prece­dent texts, and fundamental dialogicity. Particular attention is paid to variations on the theme of Pushkin's ‘Monument’ as well as the symbolism of his name, which turned into somewhat of a common noun used to refer to any poet. The predominance of allusions to quotes in references to Pushkin points to the desire of perestroika poets engage in an equal dialogue with the national genius. At the same time, the Pushkin text becomes for them the point at which the semantic perspective of both a concrete poetic utterance and poetry as a whole is refracted.

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