Журнальный зал

Русский
толстый журнал как эстетический феномен

Опубликовано в журнале: НЛО 2006, 79

Summary

This group of materials opens with a dialogue between Mark Lipovetsky (University of Colorado) and Irina Sandomirskaya (University College of South Stockholm) «How not to complete Bakhtin? Correspondence from two electronic corners». The authors systematically dispute the reputation of Bakhtin currently forming in Russian humanitarian studies as primarily a religious thinker, genetically linked to the tradition of Russian early 20th century religious philosophy. Lipovetsky and Sandomirskaya discuss the recently published fragment of Bakhtin’s 1940s draft (it starts with the line “Rhetoric, to the extent of its mendacity…»). The two participants show that Bakhtin interprets the word as a repressive authority (his intentions, as Lipovetsky and Sandomirskaya suggest are akin to the works of Walter Benjamin and Georges Bataille, as well as to the approaches of Michel Foucault and Jaques Derrida), discuss Bakhtin’s idea of a “grotesque body” and show that the understanding of dialogism in Bakhtin’s works was fundamentally polemical and had little in common with tolerant omniacceptance.

Other articles of that collection serve as commentaries on the provocative dialogue of Mark Lipovetsky and Irina Sandomirskaya. In an article «Right to a voice» Irina Popova (Russian State Humanitarian University — RSUH), who served as an academic commentator on the text «Rhetoric, to the extent of its mendacity…» (in the new collection of Bakhtin’s oeuvres), insists on the importance of the philological component of the Russian thinker’s creative work. From Popova’s point of view, literature for Bakhtin in no way served just as a secondary field of application of properly philosophical means of raising the “last questions”, as Lipovetsky, Sandomirskaya and modern “religious” apologists of Bakhtin suggest.

Vladimir Markovich (St. Petersburg State University) in the article «On “true” Bakhtin and “real” Bakhtin» studies various historical stages and types of adaptation of Bakhtin’s works in the Russian philological community starting from the mid 1960. He stresses that current attitudes to Bakhtin among the Russian scholars is autoreflective. He pays special attention to the literary hermeneutic potential of Bakhtin’s works.

Craig Brandist (The University of Sheffield) in his article «Necessity of intellectual history» insists on the importance of studying the sources of Bakhtin’s philosophising — in the first place Marburg neocantianism and Ernst Cassirer’s ideas. He thinks that it is perfectly acceptable to talk of obsolete or historically limited aspects of Bakhtin’s legacy that were to a large extent predetermined exactly by that initial idealist philosophical program.

In his aside «The man of the Moskvoshvey era» Evgeny Dobrenko (University of Nottingham) mainly pays attention to the live literary and ideological background of Bakhtin’s philosophising of the 1930s—1940s: the title of his article is an allusion to a line from Osip Mandelsˇtam’s poem. The author suggests that the «carnival theory» to a large extent grew from reflection on the social anomie of the 1920s and mass repressions of the 1930s. He stresses that any «modernising» interpretations of Bakhtin’s views will always remain dubious because it discounts that historical background.

Sergei Ushakin (Princeton University) in his article «Outside gredience: Bakhtin as one’s own Other» contests Mark Lipovetsky’s thesis on the quasi-transcendental nature of Bakhtin’s category of «transgredience». From Ushakin’s point of view, where Bakhtin and Jaques Lacan are concerned, it is that metaphor of space that becomes a basis for formatting and regularisation artistic and existential experience, a point of reference for «collecting» the ever — in principle — fragmented and unfinished self.

 

CONTEXTS OF «RABELAIS»

 

This section is devoted to Bakhtin’s most important book Rabelais and Folk Culture of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (first published in 1965, english translation is published under the title Rabelais and His World). Its new critical edition is going to be published shortly as part of Mikhail Bakhtin’s collected works.

Irina Popova’s article «Lexical Сarnival of Francois Rabelais: M.M. Bakhtin’s book in the context of French and German methodological arguments of the 1910—1920s» studies the long prehistory of the book — starting at the stage of conception and creation of the dissertation on Rabelais at the end of the 1930s годов. Popova brings Bakhtin’s book «back» out of the context of the methodological arguments of the 1960—1970s (the works by Julia Cristeva and other authors) to its original context: French and German philology of the first third of the 20th century. Bakhtin’s interest in the works of Karl Vossler’s school and especially in those of Leo Spitzer’s dealing with the issue of the «Other’s word» began in the 1920s. And Baktin’s work on the sociology of language written together with Valentin Voloshinov testifies to the fact that the switch from studying the dialogical problematics of Dostoyevsky’s novels to interpretations of Rabelais was determined by Bakhtin’s development.

Nikolay Pankov (Moscow State University Research Library) in his article «Kerch terracottas and a problem of “classical realism”: M.M. Baktin’s book on Rabelais within the context of Russian end of the 19th century — beginning of the 20th century antiquity studies» demonstrates the ways in which Bakhtin interpreted visual arts. Greek figurines of «pregnant hags» found by archaeologists in the 1860s when excavating the Bolshaya Bliznitsa burial mound (Taman peninsula, southern Russia) gave Bakhtin grounds to discuss in his dissertation and his subsequent book on Rabelais the images of grotesque body and «pregnant anility». The author studies various interpretations of unfamiliar non-canonical imagery of the Kerch terracotta figurines that are often close or parallel to those of Bakhtin (those by Russian art historians Nikolay Kondakov and Boris Farmakovsky and a philologist Boris Varneke), as well as similarities between his interpretations and the ideas of a Russian classical culture scholar Olga Freydenberg.

 

A BOOK AS AN EVENT:

ROMAN TIMENCHIK, «ANNA AKHMATOVA IN THE 1960s»

Roman Timenchik’s (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) book «Anna Akhmatova in the 1960s» (Moscow & Toronto: Vodoley Publishers & Toronto University Press, 2005) became an important episode in modern philology: it combines exceptional philological professionalism (including detailed critical reading of historical sources and Akhmatova’s poetry) with a ground-breaking organisation of biographical narration: enormous notes and excursions create a non-linear hypertext depicting not only Akhmatova and her non-conformist self-determination and self-presentation within Soviet culture but the workings of the Soviet society as a whole. Roman Timenchik’s book is discussed in articles and essays by philologists Konstantin Azadovsky (St. Pertersburg), Irina Kaspe (Moscow), Nikolay Kotrelev (Institute of World Literature, Moscow), Аleksandr Lavrov (Institute of Russian Literature [Pushkinsky Dom], St. Pertersburg), Elena Mikhailik (University of New Southern Wales, Sydney) and Galina Mikhailova (Vilnius University), history of culture scholar Aleksandr Etkind (University of Cambridge), historian Dina Khapaeva (Smolny College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St. Petersburg), poet and philosopher Aleksandr Skidan (St. Pertersburg), poets and essayists Natalia Gorbanevskaya (Paris) and Aleksei Parshchikov (Köln).

 

IN MEMORIAM

 

This issue contains two memorial sections. One is dedicated to the memory of a literary historian and archivist Larisa Ivanova (1948—2006). Ivanova was working at the Institute of Russian Literature (St. Pertersburg), her studies mostly to do with the archives and oevres of the beginning of the 20th century Russsian writers (Igor Severyanin, Vyacheslav Ivanov, Leonid Andreev). Tribute to Ivanova is given by Nikolay Bogomolov (Moscow State University), Alexander Dolinin (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Liubov Kiseleva (University of Tartu, Estonia), Alexander Ospovat (UCLA), Roman Timenchik (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Konstantin Azadovsky (St. Pertersburg), Nikolay Kotrelev (Institute of World Literature, Moscow). The section is concluded with a complete bibliography of Larisa Ivanova’s works.

The second memorial section is dedicated to the memory of a prominent Russian and Chuvash poet Gennady Aigi (1934—2006). Essays on life and works of Gennady Aigi are offered by poets Olga Sedakova (Moscow) and Sergei Zavyalov (Helsinki), literary scholar Atner Khuzangay (Cheboksary), as well as a Swiss poet, literary critic and Aigi’s translator Mikael Nydahl (The ▒Ariel’ literature magazine and publishing house, Stockholm).

 

ARCHIVE AS A GENRE

 

One of the most important trends in visual arts of the 1980s – beginning of the 2000s is the aestethisation of archives, representation of an archive or a library as an artistic object. Contemporary French artist Christian Boltanski once said in an interview: «…I want to preserve traces of all things and all events. This little memory that we create as unique personalities stands against the grand memory, the memory of the books» (from the Russian translation).

Catastrophes of the 20th century gave a special meaning to «little histories» as evidence of fragility and unique nature of every human life. Modern artists and writers find these testimonies more important than constructing the general meaning of the tragedies. That kind of evidence perception leads to creating a new concept of an archive as an aesthetical and ethical representation of human life in all its uniqueness. Behavioural patterns, personal habits, oral conversations could all be described as items «displaced» by the contents of a historical process that allow us to deconstruct the «grand history» as a depersonalised narrative. This section analyses new poetry and prose books where the text is organised in accordance with archival principles.

An article by a poet and essayist Aleksandr Barash (Jerusalem) «Archive as a genre: architectonics of personal memory» discusses models of describing the past in modern literature that can be linked to personal archives. It offers a classification of the archive genre forms based on the books published in recent years: from a «literary genesis archive» to a «quality of attitude archive».

An essay by a poet Dmitry Aleksandrovich Prigov (Moscow) is in itself related to an archive – it is based on his correspondence with an artist and writer Grisha Bruskin (New York); Prigov writes of Bruskin’s literature trilogy published in 2001—2005: in those books short poetry and prose notes are interchanged with old

family archive photos. Prigov’s letters analyse the most important aspect of archive as a genre: its personal, private way of addressing every single reader. Bruskin finds the means of bringing the solution to that problem into public space.

That very problem — how to turn one’s personal attitude to a historical document into public aesthetic action — becomes the subject of reflections by a poet and artist Elizaveta Mnatsakanova (a.k.a. Netzkowa) (University of Vienna) in her vast preface to the publication of the letters of art historian Nikolai Khardzhiev (1903—1994) addressed to her. Nikolai Khardzhiev was a collector of the largest existing archive of Russian avantgarde texts and art. Khardzhiev saw the works of Mnatsakanova, who emigrated in 1975 and published in the West only, as a congenial continuation of the Russian futurist tradition. He also wrote to her of his meeting with Marina Tsvetaeva in 1941, analysed paintings by Paul Klee, etc.

Danila Davydov (Moscow) analyses the book «Words on paper» — the first complete collection of Yuri Smirnov’s (1933—1978) poetry published in 2005. Yuri Smirnov cannot be properly called an unofficial author: he regularly published books of poetry in soviet publishing houses. However, about half of his poems were never intended for print and were only shown to his friends. This review poses a problem of inhomogeneity of an archive: those of Smirnov’s works that were intended for print and those that never were possess different notional modality and vary in their degree of conventionality and frankness and therefore demand different operational modes of sympathy and aesthetic reaction.

In this issue is also presented an interview (previously unpublished) given by Joseph Brodsky (1940—1996) to Mikhael Meylakh (Strasbourg UniversitèMarc Bloc) in first half of 1990s.