The section “The Poetics and Rhetoric of Sociology” is represented by Sergey Kozlov’s (Institute of Higher Researches in Humanities, RSUH, Moscow) article “The Crash of a Train: Max Weber’s Transport Metaphor”. In this article the concept of railroad movement (fraught with potential catastrophy) is seen as a basic metaphor of Weber’s sociology. The article treats railroad images, motives and symbols in biographical mode, as childhood impressions and images, as well as illustrations of the principles of purposeful social movement. Kozlov tries to reassess the idea of “basic metaphor” introduced by the American philosopher Stephen Pepper, later used by Heiden White, in order to recreate the coneptual intruments of sociological theory and political thinking of Max Weber. The railroad metaphor is most productive in analyzing the themes of choice and rational counting of consequences, with the author turning to the philosophy of law widely used in Weber’s sociology.
CULTURAL APPROPRIATION OF BODY:
THE FIGURES OF THE CORPOREAL
This section continues the analysis of body and the corporeal started by the New Literary Review in the middle of the 1990s (in the genre of body-studies) and carried on with a cultural-philosophical angle in issues 65 and 69. The article “Mapping the Body: The History of Body Between Constructivism, Politics, and Experience” written by a historian Philipp Sarasin (University of Zürich, Switzerland) comes first and is devoted to the historical thematization of the corporeal, mainly new-European. The corporeal, as the author argues, cannot be reduced to discoursive strategies or the chaos of incompatible singularities, in Michel Foucault’s manner. The author sees the corporeal as a historical projection not as a significant construction or natural phenomenon, but as a special correlation and intersection of discursive and material orders.
Oksana Timofeeva (Institute of Philosophy, Moscow) in her article “Text as the Embodiment of Flesh: on the Morphology of G. Bataille’s Experience” views the original concept of flesh as central point of Batai’s philosophy, both pre- and antitheoretical one. Overcoming the traditional philosophical idealism and creativity in the way of “base materialism” turns out to be possible, as Batai sees it, in turning to the aesthetics of surrealism and economics of unproductive expenditure (“The Cursed Lot”). The author pays special attention to Bataille’s reasessment of the basic psychoanalytical motives and philosophy of Freud and Lacan.
Andrey Astvatsaturov’s (Smolny College and State University of Saint-Petersburg) ““Thinking Body” in the Search for a Language. The Case of Henry Miller” is devoted to interpreting and reassessing the body and the concept of the corporeal in Henry Miller’s fiction and essays. The author also analizes Miller’s avantguard aesthetic ideas, when the latter tried to rethink the concepts of education, the destination of literature, and the basic principles of Eiropean “intellectualist tradition” in general, in terms of the primace of flesh.
Last but not least, Ilya Kalinin (The Neprikosnovenny Zapas magazine, Moscow) in his article “History as the Art of the Articulation” discusses the place and meaning of bodily metaphors in scientific and fictional writing of Russian formalists in great detail. In terms of representing the personal and historic experience of formalists themselves abundant bodily metaphors play a far greater part than just illustrating things, according to Kalinin. As the author argues, history leaves notes on the bodies of its characters and creators, as well as on the body of the watching historian himself (i.e. formalists themselves). The key formalist notions of fragmentarity, decomposing and destruction are rethought by the author in comparison with Walter Benjamin’s concepts which are close to these (the idea of allegory, ruins, etc.).
THE STRUGGLE FOR LITERARY REPUTATION:
GENRES AND CHARACTERS
Ilya Vinitsky (University of Pennsylvania). ““Dead Poets Society”: Mediumistic Poetry as a Cultural Phenomenon of the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century”. The author examines the phenomenon of posthumous authorship (i.e. literary texts produced during mediusmistic seances) that had emerged in the early 1850s in America and conquered Europe by the mid-50s. According to the spiritualists beliefs, each mediumistic poem was considered as the final word of the author, a summa summarum of his/her literary and human experience. Vinitsky argues that literary works by spirits generate a paradoxical genre resting on the boundary between literature and folklore, faith and science, forgery and myth. In the words of Yuri Lotman, the deciphering of these unreliable texts might become an important source of our knowledge concerning the literary mythology and cultural consciousness of the second half of the 19th century, — a period of the booming literary market and the flourishing of ideological criticism. In this context, the Russian mediumistic works should attract special attention for they may be considered one of the utmost expressions of the notorious quasi-religious cult of literature and literati (especially the departed ones) that had emerged by the end of the 19th century.
Victor Zhivov (University of California, Berkeley) “Herzen’s Apology in Phenomenological Guise (“Herzen’s Philosophical Weltanschauung” by G.G. Spet)” After the Bolshevik revolution, Russian intelligentsia had to construct a new intellectual space to justify its existence. A reappraisal of Russian spiritual and intellectual traditions was part of this task. Alexander Herzen could be regarded as a crucial figure in this process. Whereas Bolshevik authors claimed him to be their predecessor, non-revolutionary intelligentsia tried to appropriate him as a champion of freedom and individualism. The paper analyzes strategies of this appropriation used by Gustav Spet in a book about Herzen’s philosophical development published in 1921.
“Correspondence of A. D. Siniavskii With the Editors of the Series “Biblioteka poeta”: Transformations of the Soviet Literary Field”, with the comments and foreword by Anna Komaromi (University of Toronto). This correspondence, found in the Siniavskii archive at Hoover Institution, spans the years 1962—1965 and relates to Siniavskii’s introductory article for the 1965 ▒Biblioteka poeta’ edition of Pasternak’s poetry. The foreword treats the substance and method of Siniavskii’s dis-agreements with the editors. Examined in conjunction with the Pasternak Affair and Trial of Siniavskii and Daniel, Siniavskii’s recalcitrance can be considered an illustration of the emergence of an autonomous Soviet literary field, conceived according to Pierre Bourdieu’s description.
Olga Panova (Moscow State University). “Rimbaud and Simulacre”; Dominique Noguez “The Three Rimbauds” (Paris, Édition de Minuit, 1986). Dominique Noguez’s book is a brilliant philological “romance” describing Rimbaud’s afterlife. According to Noguez, Rimbaud didn’t die in 1891, but lived until 1937, and having returned to Paris from Ethiopia in 1893, published several prosaic works such as “African Nights”, “Black Gospels”, “The System of Modern Life”, became a Member of Academie Française and was recognized a modern classic. He married Paul Claudel’s sister Louise, exchanged letters with T. Mann and F. Pessoa, and ambivalent relations with surrealists and futurists and finally after his conversion to Catholicism came back to his native Charleville and ended his life as a provincial bourgeois that lost all the illusions of his rebellious youth. Noguez’s book is parodying modern literary criticism that can create and kill poets, re-make their biographies and deconstruct their work, offer simulacres instead of real things.
The “resurrected Rimbaud” without his shocking and enigmatic persona, his visionary prophetic poetic poetry becomes an average French intellectual of the early XX century, a poor copy of Paul Valery or Andre Gide. Rimbaud invented by Noguez helps make evident all latent sides of the adolescent poet’s character and make reality the main myths such as “Rimbaud — angelic catholic poet”, “Rimbaud —positivist and socialist”, “Rimbaud — bougeois”, etc. All these images of Rimbaud stop being hypotheses and versions and get a life of their own giving rise to a simulacre that replaces the true figure of Rimbaud, “enfant terrible” of the French poetry.
MODERNIZATION AS MOBILIZATION:
THE SOVIET CULTURE OF THE 1930s
Joachim Klein (Leiden University, Netherlands). “Belomorkanal. Literature and Propaganda in Stalin’s Times”. This article deals with the cultural history of early Stalinism, focussing on the extensive propaganda campaign around the construction of the White Sea — Baltic Canal in the early 1930ies. This campaign was so successful that for decades to come this project was largely associated not with the existence of a huge concentration camp, the Belbaltlag, but with the glamour of heroic achievement. How can the sucess of this propaganda campaign be explained? And what induced the elite of Soviet writers to participate in it?
Serguei Oushakine (Columbia University, New York). ““Let’s Fight Nature”: How We Tried to Get Rid of Heredity”. Using classical texts of the early Stalinism (M. Gorky’s journalism, T. Lysenko’s agrobiological work, and A. Makarenko’s pedagogical writing) as its main source, the essay explores how persistent design and implementation of endless chains of disciplining routines and activities were used in the 1920—1930s to overcome the dissolution of the daily order of things. Uncertainty of social norms in the early Soviet society became equated with instability of environment in general and nature in particular. Such an equation pro-duced an interesting discursive and practical shift: an absence of clearly articulated models of subjectivity was overcome and overshadowed by a very powerful and vivid rhetoric of various techniques through which a controlled environment of cul-ture — a “second nature” in Gorky’s word — could be created.
THE HISTORICAL NOVEL IN THE ERA
OF THE CRISIS OF THE NATIONAL UTOPIAS
The article by Alexandre Bobrakov-Timoshkin (The Charle’s University, Prague) is called “Escaping the ▒Memory of Genre’: Strategies of Ideologization and De-ideo-logization in Czech Historical Prose” is devoted to evolution of the genre of historical novel in Czech literature of the second half of the 20 th century in the context of interrelations between writers and the existing ideology. The author states that the so-called “Alois Irasek action” (forming the ideological canon for historical prose in the 1940s—1950s, after communists had come to power) was based not only on the dogmas of socialist realism with reference to Czech literature, but also on the then existing tradition which took its origin in the period of XIX century National Renaissance, when it was historical writing which reflected the predominant ideological principles more fully. The development of Czech historical novel duting the 1960s—1990s is viewed in terms of the various strategies of de-ideologization of the genre, including breaking off fully from the tradition, with the brilliant example of Vladimir Neff’s postmodernist trilogy “Queens Don’t Have Legs”.
In her essay on “Philosopher’s Stone, or Being on the Losing Side” Faina Grimberg (Moscow), an author of historical novels, analyzed the position of a historical novelist in today’s world. The main issues, which Grimberg tries to address in her novels, are an alternative interpretation of historic events, as opposed to what is generally acknowledged, and a new understanding of national community. Thus in her novel “Andey Yaroslavitch” the main character of the 13th century history of Russia is prince Andrey, the brother and rival of Alexander Nevsky, canonized by the orthodox Church. In the novel called “A Female Flutist on Sentry Hill” the writer describes the history of an imaginary Balkan people — tavils. On the whole, Grimberg’s main strategy is describing history from the point of view of those who lost.
Dragan Kujundzic (University of California, Irvine). “After “After”: The Arkive Fever of Alexander Sokurov”. The Soviet period represents an absent cause of Aleksander Sokurov’s film “The Russian Ark”, its catastrophic effects on the building generate the repressed or invisible origin that makes this movie possible. It is because it is a post-historic and post-catastrophic event, that the explicit aspiration of the movie to be a salvation can be at all meaningful. The Hermitage is The Russian Ark after the catastrophic flood of Soviet History. The film also marks a departure from the epoch of filming with the film stock, since it is entirely made in one single shot with a high-definition video camera.
IN MEMORIAM: LEONID A. VINOGRADOV (27.06.1936—1.04.2004)
This section is dedicated to memory of Leonid Vinogradov – poet, playwriter and author of novels.
The Academic Chronicles section publishes a number of reports on Russian and overseas conferences and seminars that took place during Autumn of 2004.
The issue also presents an extensive book review.