THE INVENTION OF TRADITION:
PHOLOLOGICAL GENEALOGY AS PROBLEM AND PROJECT
With this section, the New Literary Review starts a series of articles in the reflexive history of philology and the humanities. It will concentrate on reconsidering the notion of “tradition” as well as its components and criteria. This questioning of scholarship’s past will also include a “reworking” and revision of the Soviet heritage, in a methodological but also an ethical sense. The New Literary Review stresses that this is an open debate, with no preconceived notions about the nature of philological traditions and the ways in which it can be invented.
The first section concentrates on philosophical aspects of the birth and epistemo-logical borders of contemporary philology. It opens with an article by Mikhail Yampolsky (New York State University, USA) entitled “Philologization (The Project of Radical Philology)”, which examines the theoretical programme and subsequent reinterpretation of the ideas of Friedrich August Wolf, the author of the famous “Prolegomena ad Homerum” (1795) and one of the founders of philology. As Yampolsky argues, on the one hand, Wolf’s radical, destabilizing critique of the text and its integrity was later absorbed and applied to a critique of metaphysics by Nietzsche and partly by Heidegger. On the other hand, there was a parallel and converse process of the “philosophization of philology”, which resulted in the contemporary versions of hermeneutics, i.e. methods of handling and interpreting units of meaning.
Just like Yampolsky’s study, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht’s (Stanford University, USA) article “From Oedipal Hermeneutics to a Philosophy of Presence” was first presented at the New Literary Review’s 13th “Bath-House Readings” (Bannye Chteniya) in April 2005 in Moscow. This text, subtitled “An Autobiographical Fantasy”, is Gumbrecht’s exploration (based on his current programme of studying “the production of presence”) of his own philosophico-philological genealogy. Gumbrecht discusses Husserl’s phenomenology, Heidegger’s existential ontology, Gadamer’s philo-sophical hermeneutics and, in most detail, the receptive aesthetics of the author’s immediate tutor, Hans-Robert Jauss, with reference to the political and social experience of German thought in the 20th century, linked to Nazism and the subsequent reconsideration of Hitler’s dictatorship. Gumbrecht argues that the lessons of this auto-analysis can be compared to the critical efforts of post-Soviet intellectuals.
THE “ANTROPOLOGICAL TURN” IN THE HUMANITIES:
INDIVIDUAL VERSIONS AND CONFIGURATIONS
OF THE WHOLE
This section opens with an article by Aron Gurevich (Russian State University for the Humanities and Institute of Universal History, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow) entitled “History on a Human Scale (Reflections of a Medievalist)”. Gurevich analyzes the evolution of historical scholarship over the past decades, and shows why it was appropriate that historians in many countries should turn to anthropological issues. In carrying out research on the history of medieval Scandinavia, Gurevich was faced with a number of questions which traditional histori-ography was unable to answer. He notes the special merit of the French Annales school in making the transition from the history of states and economical and social institutions to the study of the “otherness” of the people of the past, their motiva-tions and values, which differ significantly from ours.
The next text, “Historical Anthropology and the New Cultural History” is an excerpt from Peter Burke’s (Cambridge University, UK) book What is Cultural History? (Polity Press, 2004). Burke discusses why anthropology, and especially Clifford Geertz’s interpretive approach, was so popular among historians in the 1970—1990s. Burke points to the influence of Jacob Burckhardt and Johan Huizinga, and provides a detailed analysis of the main tendencies of the “new cultural history”: micro-history, the history of reading, the history of travel and leisure, the history of memory, the history of corporeality and material culture, and the connection between these tendencies and Feminist and Post-Colonial Studies. Burke stresses that the interest of the new cultural history in practices and representations is linked to historians’ reading of the theoretical approaches of Michel Fou-cault, Pierre Bourdieu, Norbert Elias and Mikhail Bakhtin.
LITERATURE IN THE CONTEXT OF MEDIA
Olga Makarova (Queen Mary College, University of London): “▒Destiny has — somewhat fatefully — placed me in your way’: The case of Nastasia Kairova in the life of Aleksei Suvorin”. The paper deals with a virtually unknown page in Suvorin’s life, his relationship with the journalist Nastasia Kairova. Drawing on extensive archival materials, the author reports a series of episodes that led Suvorin into a conflict with his partner Likhachev in the newspaper Novoe Vremia caused by Nastasia Kairova. The paper also contributes to the biography of Nastasia Kairova, particularly her contacts with Nikolay Leskov. A document entitled “The Diary of Nastasia Kairova kept in a lunatic asylum” is brought into the public domain for the first time. When criminal proceedings were brought against Kairova, this doc-ument played a key role in her acquittal.
Robert Wessling (Stanford University): “Mediating the Death of the Russian Poet: The ▒Chosen Trauma’ for Pushkin and the ▒Sick Generation’s’ Canonization of Nadson”. The article illustrates how the “chosen trauma” of Alexander Pushkin’s death was rewritten in an idiom appropriate to the 1880s, the post-Reform decade of the so-called “sick generation”. The adaptation of the poet’s martyrology was conducted in a way that accounted for, among other important differences, the equivalence of Semion Nadson’s death by tubercular meningitis to Pushkin’s deathin a duel. Nadson’s death, in fact, is the first death of a poet in Russian cultural history that was perceived as a mediated event, and it was the institutions of the post-Reform press that played the leading role in the process of “mediation”. Scandalous words served as virtual bullets launched through the press at the central organs of the poet’s nervous system. Nadson’s rapid death by tubercular meningi-tis (an inflammation of the brain) was highly significant in this regard because it helped to reconstitute the Romantic myths of the poet’s slow and elegant death by consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis). In this way, the Romantic martyrology and public traditions of trauma for the Russian poet’s death reappeared in a form uniquely adapted to Russian post-Reform modernity.
Robert Wessling’s observations are supplemented by Abram Reitblat (New Literary Review magazine, Moscow) in his article “Burenin and Nadson: The Construction of a Myth”. He describes the evolution of the conflict between the critic
V.P. Burenin and the poet S.Ya. Nadson and uncovers the underlying reasons for the conflict as well as the mechanisms which served to ensure Nadson’s posthumous fame and literary reputation.
RECONSTRUCTING LITERARY MILESTONES
In his article “On the History of Balmont’s best book”, Nikolay Bogomolov (Moscow State University) describes the censorial history of Konstantin Balmont’s (1867—1942) book of poetry Budem kak solnce (Let Us Be Like the Sun) (1903), which many contemporaries considered to be his best work. The censors excluded several poems from the book, mostly erotic ones. These articles are published in an appendix to the article.
Henryk Baran (University at Albany): “Khlebnikov’s ▒Supertale’: The Otter’s Children: On an Archival Find”. This article presents and analyzes a previously unknown manuscript fragment by the Futurist poet Velimir Khlebnikov. The fragment, which is the beginning of an early draft redaction of the so-called “supertale” (montage of various texts) The Otter’s Children, was discovered in the Khardzhiev collection in Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Its contents shed new light on the author’s conception of this complex work, which is shown to be theatrical in nature and which appears to have been influenced by N. Evreinov’s monodramas. The article also explores the question of how the draft should be dated, and concludes that it was most likely created in the later summer or autumn of 1913.
ALEKSANDR CHUDAKOV (1938—2005)
This section is devoted to the memory of the remarkable philologist and cultural historian Aleksandr Chudakov, deceased in Moscow on 3 October 2005. It includes obituaries by colleagues and friends from different countries (Sergey Bocharov, Yury Mann, Donald Rayfield, Roman Timenchik, Alexander Ospovat, Alexander Dolinin, Vladimir Paperny and many others): in their essays, they write about Chudakov’s personality, his scholarly works and his novel Lozhitsya mgla na starye stupeni (Haze Sets upon the Old Steps, 2001).
INTERTEXTUALITY IN SOVIET LITERATURE
Oleg Lekmanov (Moscow State University): “A Correction On (From) A Newspaper”. Lekmanov shows that Vladimir Mayakovsky’s 1928 poem Dachny sluchay (A Case at the Dacha) contains references to various publications from the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, where the poem was published. One of the aims of the poem, as Lekmanov demonstrates, was to engage in a political dispute with the young poet Ivan Molchanov.
An article by Elena Mikhailik (University of New South Wales, Sydney) discusses the literary genealogy of Mikhail Svetlov’s Grenada. It starts with Michael Wachtel’s argument that the amphibrachic tetrameter with masculine rhymes, introduced into Russian literature by Vassily Zhukovsky’s The Forest King, had immediately been hijacked by Pushkin’s poem The Black Shawl, its hyper-romantic influence ever since shaping subsequent works written in that meter, Grenada included. Mikhailik tries to identify the poem’s source and arrives at the hypothesis that the primary inspiration for Grenada was an anonymous soldiers’ song from World War I, whose private, pedestrian and decidedly non-revolutionary irony Svetlov tried to overcome by appealing to the high-flown tradition of the Black Shawl and its lower-class derivatives, with some surprising ideological consequences.
Yuri Leving’s (George Washington University) article, “Pie and Power (Yuri Trifonov’s The House on the Embankment)”, traces an overlooked episode in Trifonov’s celebrated novella. The scene of Ganchuk eating a “Napoleon” cake in the caf? immediately after he has been subjected to harsh criticism at the Faculty Board political meeting is analyzed as a sophisticated intertextual motif that links the episode to significant themes of oppression, alienation, moral responsibility and memory. Leving suggests some possible intertextual allusions to Russian and West European writings (from Bulgakov and Nabokov to Marcel Proust and his famous madeleine in the novel Remembrance of Things Past) and studies the “candy motif” in the story against the cultural background of the Stalinist “wedding-cake” architecture and its post-Soviet reverberations.