OSIP MANDELSHTAM: NEW APPROACHES
In this section Osip Mandelshtam is represented as an original thinker.
The scholars examine the philosophical and historical importance of Mandelshtam’s poetical legacy. Mandelshtam’s oeuvre has become especially significant at the background of European writers and philosophers of the twentieth century. One may suggest the appearance of a new approach to Mandelshtam initiated by the articles published in the current issue, as well as by Mikahil Yampol’sky’s research (NLO # 59). This approach is radically different from the dominating in the 1970—1980s intertextual method of interpreting Mandelshtam’s works.
In the essay, The Age of Poets (1989), French philosopher Alain Badiou develops the ideas of his well-known book “Manifesto for Philosophy”: in his opinion, in the period from Arthur Rembaud to Paul Celan European poetry has acquired some functions of philosophy – in particular, the function of analyzing man’s place in the world and criticizing traditional schemes of European thinking. Among Badiou’s “philosophical poets” there appear Stephan Mallarme, Fernando Pessoa, Georg Trakl, Osip Mandelshtam and Gennady Aigi.
Boris Gasparov (Columbia University) in his article, “The Black Soil Grain of Poetic Voice: Mandelshtam in Voronezh,” analyzes various aspects of metaphoric meaning of breathing in Mandelshtam’s “Voronezh Notebooks.” Gasparov discusses these ideas in the broad philosophical context.
Artemy Magun’s (St. Petersburg, Smolny College of Fine Arts and Eurpean University), essay Poetics of Revolutionary Time: HÚlderlin and Mandelshtam, is devoted to a special phenomenon — “break”, or “pause” hiden in the unfolding of poetical text. This effect is discussed in a broad culturological context. Magun juxtaposes the historical situation of both poets and scrutinizes their perception of revolution as a symbolic “break of times.”
Evgeny Pavlov (University of Canterbury, New Zealand) in his study, Osip Mandelshtam and the Sounds of Autobiography, examines the essence of “the sublime” (in Kant’s terminology) and its relevance to aesthetics of modernism in general, and Mandelshtam’s poetics in particular. Pavlov focuses on the conceptions of time and memory implicitly and explicitly developed in the works of Benjamin, Mandelshtam and Andrey Bely. These conceptions are consistent when comparing Mandelshtam and Benjamin,
but show sharp discrepancy while comparing Mandelshtam and Bely.
The latter allows Pavlov to better understand the fundamental nature of Mandelshtam’s argument with symbolists.
In Anna Glazova’s (Northwestern University, Chicago) article, Airy-
Stony Crystal. Mandelshtam and Celan, the author compares the
crystallographic and geological metaphors in the works of the two poets. Glazova demonstrates the similarity in their appreciation of poetical language filled with caesuras and semantic hiatus.
The current section closes with modern writers’ answers to the question “How does Mandelshtam appeal to you today?” These authors include Andrey Sen-Senkov (Moscow), Igor Vishnevetsky (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), Arkady Dragomoshchenko (St. Petersburg) and Ivan Akhmetjev (Moscow).
Oleg Lekmanov’s (The Moscow State University) On Vladimir Narbut’s Book of Poems “Halleluiah” studies the lexical structure and graphical imagery of one of the most challenging collections written by the active member of the “Guild of Poets.”
Mark Lipovetsky (University of Colorado) in his article, Allegories of Writing: Kharms’ “Accidents” (1933—1939), reads Kharms’ cycle of short texts “Accidents” through the prism of Walter Benjamin’s theory of allegory. This approach leads to the interpretation of the cycle as a multi-layered
juxtaposition of various allegories of writing/creativity. Although all these allegories represent writing as a transcendental process, Khrams persistently deconstructs all the transcendental ambition bringing up violence as an ultimate allegory of writing.
A GENEALOGY OF MYTH:
FROM THE HISTORY OF RUSSIAN LITERATURE
OF THE 18TH — BEGINNING OF THE 19TH CENTURY
Vera Proskurina’s (Cornell University) investigation, The Mythology of Astraea and the Russian Throne, suggests that Vergil’s Fourth Eclogue was one of the main sources of any European Imperial myth. In the eighteenth-century Russia, with a sequence of women as rulers and juvenile heirs, metaphors of the Fourth Eclogue became very popular in poetry from M. Lomonosov and A. Sumarokov to N. Karamzin. The problem of a succession of the throne, says Proskurina, turned to be a focus of the myth in its Russian version. The concept of “the savior of the son”, future Emperor, played its role during the revolt of 1762 and first years after that, but became inappropriate for the triumphant Empress Catherine II. Motivated more by ideological than esthetic purposes, Catherine refused the image of Astraea that Sumarokov’s odes persistently attached to her.
Mikhail Velizhev (UniversitÈ degli Studi di Milano / RSUH, Moscow) and Maya Lavrinovich (RSUH, Moscow) discuss the formation of a literary account on Ivan Susanin’s heroic exploit. In their article, “Susanin’s Myth”: Formation of a Canon, the authors elaborate on a legend about the rescue
of Mikhail Fyodorovich, the first tsar of Romanov dynasty, from the Poles by a Kostroma peasant. According to the scholars, it was Mikhail Kheraskov, an influential man of letters, who played a key role in the beginnings of “Susanin” mythology in the end of the 18th — beginning of the 19th century. As it appears, S.N. Glinka, A.A. Shakhovskoy, K.F. Ryleev, and even M.I. Glinka, the one who had “canonized” Susanin’s story in his opera “Life for the Tsar,” followed in their interpretations the Kheraskovian paradigm.
The rubric “In memoriam” presents two sets of materials. The first one is devoted to late Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Lebedev (1928—2002), a literary critic and literary historian, the author of the famous book “Chaadaev” (1965). The second one is dedicated to Sarra Vladimirovna Zhitomirskaia (1916—2002) — a historian, bibliographer and archivist, manager of the Manuscript Division of the Lenin State Library from 1952 to 1978. The issue features S. V. Zhitomirskaia’s newly published article on the fate of Mikhail Bulgakov’s archive and A. A. Lebedev’s work on semantics and socio-cultural functions of the metaphor of the “Russian idea.”
PHILOSOPHY AS LITERATURE
Pyotr Rezvykh’s (University of Friendship Among Peoples, Moscow) article, Jacob BÚhme: Language of Body and Body Language, deals with the style of the German mystic philosopher of the seventeenth century. According
to Rezvykh, BÚhme’s philosophic terminology represents a collection of metaphors based on the human experience of the corporal. BÚhme’s
philosophic discourse was shaped to a certain extent by medical terminology, borrowed among others from Paracelsus.
In Sergei Fokin’s (St. Petersburg) essay, Gilles Deleuze as a Literary Critic: Cartography, demonstrates the peculiarities of Deleuze’s philosophical thinking through the “map” of basic themes categorized by the philosopher in the 1980s. Analyzing literary heritage was essential for Deleuze in developing
his philosophical metaphors. For this purpose Deleuze elaborated on the
19—20th cc. literature (Melville, Carroll, MallarmÎ).
Publication by Robert Bird (University of Chicago) uncovers Fyodor Stepun’s literary works. The Russian poems by this philosopher and prose writer of a German origin represent the spirit of epigone symbolism of the late 1900s. His German poems written at the end of the 1930s, which were influenced by the German Expressionism, are published here as well. The publication also includes Stepun’s autobiography approximately dated by 1953.
The Academic Chronicles section publishes a number of reports on
Russian and overseas conferences and seminars that took place during Spring and Summer of 2003.
The issue also presents an extensive book review.