The issue begins with a memoirs essay by the poet and essayist Nikolay Minsky (1856—1937). The essay was written in emigration in 1931 and described the author’s encounter with Ivan Turgenev which took place in Paris in the early 1880s. In the foreword Sergey Sapozhkov (Moscow State Pedagogical University) looks into the sources for deviations and conscious mystifications in Min-sky’s memoirs.
JACQUES DERRIDA: FROM CRITIQUE TO ETHICS
The present memorial collection opens up with a translation of several chapters from one of the last books by the French philosopher – “Voyous”, “The Hooligans” (2003). This publication presents a part of Derrida’s creative work not yet known in Russia and shows Jacques Derrida as a political thinker. In his book the author investigates the philosophical modality of classical and modern political theory (from Plato to Toqueville). The topicality of the problem of “future democracy” is for him the premise from which he proceeds to discuss the dangerous and ambivalent realm where the state and terrorists are acting in self-sufficient mode.
The scripts of the round-table conference which took place at the editorial office of “Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie” on November 22, 2004 are published under the heading “Our Derrida? (Analysis the Reception and Strategies of Re-reading)”. The conference was initiated by young philosophers (Artem Magun, Alexey Penzin and his colleagues) and also attracted “NLO’s” authors and staff (Alexandre Skidan, Ilya Kukulin, Ilya Kalinin, etc.). The participants discussed Derrida’s journey from post-structuralist aesthetics to the recent political and social philosophy. The discussion was focused on characteristic features of perceiving Derrida’s work in Russia, on the relation between deconstruction and modern literary practices, and on the correlation between Derrida’s approaches and the alternative philosophical programs suggested by Foucault and Deleuze.
The collection ends with an article by Natalia Avtonomova (The Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow) called “A Lesson of Writing”. Avtonomova as a translator of Derrida’s works and as one of the first scholars to appreciate his work in Russia suggests an original approach to his philosophy with the perspective of post-classical rationality. She also gives a detailed speculation on the history of the International Philosophical College in Paris founded by Derrida in 1983, relying on her personal experience.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE EMPIRE: IMAGES OF SAINT
PETERSBURG IN CULTURAL PROJECTS AT THE TURN OF
THE XVIII AND AT THE BEGINNING OF THE XIX CENTURIES
Vera Proskurina (Cornell University). “The Saint Petersburg’s Myth and Politics of Monuments: Peter the Great to Catherine the Second”. The concept of the main City, the center of imperial power, as well as a legend of its foundation, played a considerable part in Russian political myths. Catherine’s coming to the throne involved new attitudes in interpretation of Peter I’s image. It also generated a new mythology, which was closely connected with the most vital tasks of power. The events forced Catherine II to rely upon the so-called “Peter’s behest”, but Catherine’s ideological ancestry from Peter the Great did not stand for her own voluntary choice: she has been fasten to the Petrine heritage which substituted, to some extent, an absence of her own dynastic myth. Meanwhile, relying upon Peter I, and even publicly declaring a complete loyalty toward the “Peter’s behest”, Catherine began considering new contours of the Saint Petersburg myth. She was completely satisfied when Vasilii Petrov formulated new attitudes toward her great predecessor after Virgil’s patterns. Peter the First has received the status of a great founder, the Saint Petersburg Aeneus, while the empress has got the significance of a new Augustus, who completed the deeds of the precursor and guided his country to prosperity and success.
Alla Keuten (Bremen), “Enlightenment as Globalization: The periodical ▒Konstantinopel und St. Petersburg, der Orient und der Norden’” (1805—1806). This article deals with the phenomenon of the periodical magazines which came into being during the 18th century. In contrast to the modern press they contained less news and more useful information and were designed to adapt the knowledge and important ideas of the time for general public. In other words, they were made to be a medium of Enlightenment. A. Keuten reconstructed the history of the “Konstantinopel und St. Petersburg”, a very little known magazine in German, run by two editors (in Germany and in Russia). Analysing its contents and placing the magazine within a broader historical and literary context the author describes some cultural symbols and oppositions, which the publicity was faced with at the beginning of the 19th century.
VLADIMIR NARBUT: THE MEMORY OF LITERATURE
Nikolay Bogomolov (Moscow State University). “▒Dyr bul schil’ in the Context of the Epoch”. The article contains the analysis of the famous arcane poem by Alexey Kruchenykh <Dyr bul schil…>. The author attempts to show that placing the poem in the context of the 1912 events in the literary life not only helps to interpret its meaning, but also defines its role in the interrelation of the two ways of the Russian post-symbolism, i.e. futurism and acmeism. In his poetic triptych which includes <Dyr bul schil…> Kruchenykh gives a kind of concentrate of acmeistic tendencies, first and foremost in the figures of Vladimir Narbut and Nikolay Gumilev.
Vadim Besprozvanny (University of Michigan), “Vladimir Narbut Through the Eyes of His Contemporaries.” The article examines the image of V. Narbut in the memoirs of his contemporaries through the prism of Narbut’s poetry. Narbut’s biographic myth is suggested as an alternative to selection of memoirs based either on their credibility or on factuality.
Ilya Kukulin (“New Literary Review”, Moscow) in his article “History of a Liminal Language: Vladimir Narbut, Leonid Tchertkov and the Counter-Cultural Function” analyses the way the aesthetic ideas of Narbut’s poetry developed in the Russian non-official poetry of the 20th century. Leonid Tchertkov (1933—2000) being a philologist and an eminent Russian nonconforming poet, re-interpreted Narbut’s style ironically and formed a special literary style, which later on became most important in the poetics of the Russian rock poetry and the poetical counter-culture in general. The author argues that the history of this style (or “liminal language”) helps us reconsider some of the traditional concepts in the history of literature.
Marina Kanevskaya, “The Shortest Route to the Truth: Decentralisation of Discourse in Fazil Iskander’s fiction”. In this article the late Marina Kanevskaya (1956—2002, worked in University of Montana) analysed the peculiarities of the prose of Abkhaz-born Russian writer Fazil Iskander. Kanevskaya shows that Iskander’s prose combined postmodern elements with the aesthetic pathos inherited from Leo Tolstoy and the tradition of Caucasian toasts.
This section is devoted to the memory of Alexey Khvostenko (1940—2004), author of songs, dramatist, artist and sculptor. In the 1960s and the 1970s he took active part in the non-official artistic movement in Leningrad, in 1977 Khvostenko emigrated and lived in France. In Paris he organized an independent arts center “Symposion”.
The section inlcudes two interviews with Khvostenko, his last poem, extracts from his unifished autobiographical novel “Maxim”, a poem by Mikhail Gendelev devoted to the memory of the poet, and an essay by Vadim Alexeev.
The second part of this section contains an essay in the memory of poet Vladimir Lapin (1945—2005) by Olga Sedakova.
CHRONICLES OF CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE
In the essay by Ksenia Rozhdestvenskaya (Moscow) called “Language in Catastrophy: Terrorism And The Modern Writing” descriptions of big terrorist acts are viewed as challenges for fictional writing. Rozhdestvenskaya’s essay relies on interpreting two pieces of fiction: a novella by Andrey Dmitriev “The Ghost of a Theatre” and Frederic Begbeder’s novel “Windows of the World”.
The section “Trajectories of readings” contains essays by Andrey Ouritsky (Moscow) and Alexandre Dmitriev (“New Literary Review”, Moscow) devoted to the new novel by a well-known Russian writer Nikolay Kononov “Tender Theatre”.
The Academic Chronicles section features a number of reports on conferences and seminars that took place in autumn, 2004.
The issue also gives an extensive book review.