Nikolay Mitrokhin in his «Memoirs of the Central Committee of the Communist party staff about A. Solzhenitsyn: Excerpts from Interviews» talks with the Party functionaries about the forbidden literature, Solzhenitsyn and related matters. Pyotr Druzhinin («‘A completely gnawed bone’: How A.L. Dimshits defended his dissertation») tells the story of the notorious Party functionary’s academic failure due to his strategy of attacking his opponents politically.
Mikhail Gronas («Who was the author of the first book on Pushkin?») makes an attempt to answer this question and makes a conclusion that the anonymous pamphlet attacking Pushkin’s «Boris Godunov» was written by F. Bulgarin, a controversial journalist and author, Pushkin’s personal enemy. Abram Reitblat («Pushkin as Bulgarin») traces the similarities between Pushkin’s and Bulgarin’s political views and professional (journalistic) tactics, finding those to be less different from each other than one could expect.
Evgenii Shragowitz («An essay on two songs by B. Okudzhava») analyses two songs by a famous Russian poet/songwriter/singer in the light of the national literary tradition.
This section devoted to contemporary political-philosophical readings of Yuri Lotman opens with an article by Susanne Frank, «‘The explosion’ as a metaphor for cultural semiosis». Frank interprets the concept of cultural dynamics — which Lotman described using the metaphor of an explosion — as related to contemporary theory of event. Albrecht Koschorke devotes his article «On the principle of action on the cultural periphery» to those aspects in Lotman’s semiotics of culture that do not allow for the reduction of cultural dynamics to the interaction of dichotomies. The idea of the periphery offers an analytical toolkit for the description of aspects typical not only of specific cultures and kinds of political organisation (such as empire), but also for cultural dynamics overall, the non-intentional quality of historical dynamics, its unpredictability, and the reciprocity of relations between the centre and the periphery. In «Self-description, dialogue and the periphery in late Lotman», Daniele Monticelli discusses the cultural- semiotic work of the late Lotman in the context of political theories of modernity.
In the article «Anthropologising authorship: an invitation to ‘lyrical historiography'», Igor Narsky questions the place of the subject — author, researcher — and his personal experience in historiographical investigation. Tatiana Venediktova in her article «Literature as experience» proposes an attempt to look at literature through the lens of «radical empiricism» — focusing on the network of (historically variable) relationships between reader and text.
In «Poetics vs. Politics (turns of the 20th century)», Valerii Viugin continues the discussion of the anthropological turn and the prospects for knowledge in the humanities as it has unfolded on the pages of NLO. Yet, his article focuses on the past of scholarship (rather than its present or future). Having honed in on just one of the aspects of this vast topic, Viugin follows point-by-point the way in which the relationship between poetics and politics in the humanities has developed throughout the 20th century and offers his own solution to the problem.
In «Beginnings and ends», Dmitri Nikulin takes on an analysis of the status quo in contemporary philosophy and confirms that it is currently in a unique position, characterised by the absence of obviously dominant schools or trends. Meanwhile, philosophers are enjoying an unprecedented opportunity to remain unlimited by established frameworks of any one given paradigm, which enables them to discuss questions that have until now remained outside the purview of dominant philosophical movements.
In this section (the title of which refers to Eikhenbaum’s famous article, «How Gogol’s ‘Overcoat’ is made»), Aleksandr Zholkovsky in «Correct threads. A philological study» dissects the construction of political jokes about Putin and Medvedev (from the time of the latter’s presidency). This clever and yet strictly academic study will undoubtedly be counted among the most significant works by this extremely well-known philologist and linguist.
In «David Fincher’s Se7en», Grigorii Amelin offers a profound and quite striking reading of Fincher’s thriller. Bringing in numerology, theology and existential philosophy, Amelin presents Se7en as a sort of masterpiece of intertextuality.
The «school» diaries of Elena Shvarts published in this section constitute a stunning document that tells the tale of a true «anthropological miracle»: the transformation of an ordinary Soviet schoolgirl and Red Pioneer (who collected postcards dedicated to Vladimir Lenin and dreamed of a team of «red trailblazers» and of Zoya Kosmodemi- anskaya) into a poet-mystic and tremendously sensitive reader of world literature (who at the tender age of fifteen uncovered the abysses of Goethe’s Faust and Kafka’s Trial, and who fearlessly gazed into the abyss of her own soul). Finally, as a sort of postmortem dialogue with Elena Shvarts, we also present the memoirs and poetry of another major poet of the same era — Aleksandr Mironov.