HISTORY OF PHILOLOGICAL PRACTICES
This section is opened by Alexander Dmitriev’s (The New Literary Review magazine) and Sergey Kozlov’s (Russian State University for Humanities [RSUH]) introductory article “History of philology from a pragmatic point of view”. It discusses the way the turn in European humanitarian studies (beginning of the 1980s) towards reflection on its history could be perceived in the modern Russian situation. The authors think that the way German Classical philology was established despite the unfavourable intellectual and institutional environment of the beginning if the 19th century presents a certain lesson in social self-definition of Russian humanities scholars of the beginning of the 21st century.
The block opens with an article by Michel Espagne (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris) “Intercultural history of philosophy” (written specifically for the NLR), where the author provides a detailed analysis of the international context in which European 19th century philosophy was formed, primarily using interactions between the French and the German academic communities and European perception of the exemplary German model of study organisation. M. Espagne pays the most attention to the impact the ways of material viewing and discourse organisation from the adjacent disciplines – art history, religious scholarship and mythological studies as well as literary practices – had on philology.
Roy Steven Turner’s (University of New Brunswick, Canada) article “Historicism, Kritik, and the Prussian Professoriate, 1790 to 1840” discussed the re-formulation of principles of philological studies by the leading German scientists of the end of the 18th century under the conditions of a crisis of values among the former academic estate. New organisational institutions (seminars), borrowing of the cutting edge philosophical methods (criticism, hermeneutics) and broadening of its source base (using other disciplines) are analysed as a successful anti-crisis strategy that made German Classical scholarship of the 19th century a model for scientification of other disciplines, including natural ones, that also happened outside Germany.
Finally the most prominent specialist in port-Renaissance humanities Anthony Grafton (Princeton University, USA) in his article “Polyhistor into Philolog: Notes on the Transformation of German Classical Scholarship, 1780—1850” provides a close look at the scholastic innovations of the main German Classical scholars (Lachmann, Wolf, Niebuhr, Heyne, Boekh, Germann) occurring in the process of professionalisation of the field in Classical philology of the first half of the 19th century. The author analyses means and forms of inter-discipline communications (organisation of societies and conferences, structure and style of publications and reviews) as well as peculiarities of cultural and methodological reflections among the philologists. Grafton also shows the definite fortes of Classical studies and the roots of methodological and ideological crisis of neo-humanism (which served as a basis for the new Classical philology) under the conditions of the deterioration of Bildungsbürgertum after 1871.
ANALYTICS OF “LIFE-CREATION”:
YURI LOTMAN AND LIDIA GINZBURG
The section on poetics of everyday behaviour: opens with a transcript of a roundtable discussion “Cultural codes, social strategies and literary scenarios” that took place in the editorial office of the New Literary Review in April 2006 summarising the results of the annual “Bannye readings” in Moscow. On Laurent Thévenot (L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris) prompting the participants including Andrei Zorin (Oxford University, UK), Boris Dubin (Levada Center, Moscow), Sergei Kozlov (RSUH), Emily Van Buskirk (Harvard University, USA) and Abram Reitblat (The NLR magazine, Moscow) discussed the principles of studying of “the poetics of everyday behaviour” by Yuri Lotman and the social analytical methods of the “interim prose” by Lidia Ginzburg. The background for comparison of the methods of two Russian scholars was provided by discussing social and philosophical theories of William James, American pragmatism, Irving Goffman and that of Yuri Levada and his followers.
In “The Postscript to the “Poetics of everyday behaviour” and the roundtable discussion devoted to it” written by Victor Zhivov (University of California, Berkeley, USA) the author discusses Lotman’s and Ginzburg’s approaches to the problems of social behavior in the context of their life experience. Both were individualists but Lotman believed in successes whereas Ginzburg opted for failures. Lotman’s poetics of everyday behavior was based on the understanding of the social life (not of the masses but of the elite groups) as an aesthetic object, a product of life-creating activities which are directly influenced by literature. Ginzburg was more sober and less literature-centered; hence her greater interest in impersonal aspects of social behavior.
In the appendage to the block we offer an article by Stanislav Savitsky (Russian Institute of Art History, St. Petersburg) “Arguing with a teacher: the beginning of Lidia Ginzburg’s literary/exploratory project”. On the basis of Ginzburg’s diary entries, her correspondence with her course-mate Boris Buchstab and her historical and literary scholarship of the 1920s Savitsky demonstrates both the scholarly specificity of the Young Formalism and the growing literary orientation of her work. The letters of Yuri Tynyanov and Boris Eikhenbaum (first publications, Ginzburg archive) written to their former student in the end of 1920s demonstrate complex collisions of academic succession in an unfavourable atmosphere of collapsing cultural freedoms. The author follows Ginzburg to depict the particularities of “philological everyday life” as a source of her social and analytical project.
In the “Polemics” section Nina Braginskaya (RSUH) and Nina Perlina (Indiana University) discuss a recent NLR (¹ 78, 2006) publication by Konstantin Bogdanov dedicated to the history of Soviet Classical philology and folklore studies of the 1920s—1950s. The section also contains Konstantin Bogdanov’s (Universität Konstanz, Germany, and Institute of Russian literature, St. Petersburg) reply to his critics on the methods of analysing history of science.
POETICS OF BASHING
This block of materials is dedicated to the rhetoric of the “bashing campaigns”,
i.e. the organised defamation campaigns that took place in the 19th—20th centuries
in different countries and were initiated or actively supported by the ruling elite (or part of it). As a rule, such campaigns tend to develop along certain scenarios and aim to discredit one or more forces (or groups) acting in the public space, in other words, the redistribution of power. In the absence of effective competition mechanisms such campaigns become the only means of a rotation of the elite (including the scientific elites) and for all practical purposes supplant substantive arguments on social and scientific matters. Certain elements of these bashing campaigns are reproduced in the social life of post-Soviet Russia.
In their article “Towards a Prehistory of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion: Iu.D. Glinka and her Letter to Emperor Alexander III,” Lev Aronov (State Archive of the Russian Federation), Henryk Baran (University at Albany) and Dmitri Zubarev (International Historic-Enlightenment Human Rights and Humanitarian Society “Memorial”, Moscow) present a document by Iustin’ia Glinka — lady-in-waiting at the Russian court, political intriguer, and, according to a long-standing yet disputed tradition, the mysterious person responsible for bringing the Protocols from France to Russia. The article points out various errors found in discussions of Glinka’s biography. The letter to Alexander III is the first known text from Glinka’s pen: its contents — claims of possessing secret information, hints at plots against Russia and the letter’s author, the assertion that the “Alliance Israelite Universelle” is a potent international force — foreshadow themes that will appear in the Protocols and increase the likelihood that Glinka may in fact have had some connection to the notorious forgery.
Evgeny Dobrenko’s (Nottingham University) article “Realästhetik, or the People Sensu Stricto (a five-part oratorio with a prologue and an epilogue)” is focused on the issue of the “popular spirit” (narodnost) as one of the most important categories of the Stalinist culture and analyzes antiformalist campaign of 1948 against most prominent Soviet composers Shostakovich, Prokofiev and others. The purpose of the campaign was to discredit modernist music (specifically that of Dmitry Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev), maximum possible weakening of contacts between Soviet and Western musicians, and redistribution of power within the Soviet Composers’ Union. The material taken from the very different sources — Shostakovich’s satirical mini-opera “Antiformalist Rayok,” Sergei Mikhalkov’s play “Ilya Golovin,” Ivan Pyriev’s film “Tale on Siberian Land,” Osip Cherny’s novel “Snegin’s Opera,” and others. It allows to explore the Stalinist Gesamtkunstwerk at the high of the late Stalinism. Analysing the documents of the All-Union Communist Party and minutes of public speeches, the author demonstrates how the “anti-formalist” campaign was prepared and run and how it became part of state Soviet propaganda. The article also provides a detailed study of Dmitry Shostakovich’s reaction to the accusations.
Maria Zalambani (University of Bologna – Forlí Campus) presents the transcript of the meeting of the Secretariat of the Moscow section of the Writers’ Union, held on January 22, 1979, in which they formulated and adopted the policy to be used against the authors of the unofficial literary almanac ‘Metropol’. This transcript, which is being published here for the first time in Russia, was taken down by the hand of one of the editors of the almanac, the writer Evgeny Popov. In her presentation of Popov’s transcript, M. Zalambani gives a brief history of the materials which have been published about the ‘Metropol’ affair in post-soviet time. Situated against this background, the importance of this document becomes all the more evident. The ‘Metropol’ affair shows that the changes which were taking place in the system of Soviet censorship during the period of “stagnation” in the soviet history (the 1970s) were only superficial, and that the Soviet structure, in spite of its attempts to reorganise, preserved, in its essence, an archaic character. Finally, this transcript provides an example of the discourse practices adopted by the Soviet system in order to bring the society into submission, and make it docile.
Nikolai Mitrokhin (Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow, Bremen/Moscow) in his article “Keepers of Soviet literature” analyses the same transcript and demonstrates that public attacks on the almanac ‘Metropol’ were instigated by so-called “Russian party” – the unofficial Russian conservative nationalist movement active within the leadership of the Communist Party and the Writers’ Union (Mitrokhin reconstructed the story of that group in his book “Russian Party”, 2001). The scenario of that attack on modernist art reproduced the earlier scenarios of anti-Semitic press campaigns in various countries. Abusive tirades attacking modernist art that are present in the transcript use the metaphors of dirt, contagion and infiltration, characteristic of anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Hans J. Rindisbacher (Pomona College, Claremont, California). This article presents the young German-language writer Vladimir Kaminer (Russian émigré) to the readers of his home country through an analysis of his work to date, with a focus on the motif of traveling, a key metaphor especially in books Reise nach Trulala and Mein deutsches Dschungelbuch. As most of Kaminer’s short stories are first-person narratives of a vaguely autobiographical kind the article, in addition to analyzing the connection of traveling and narrating, also investigates the central role of the narrator and his trustworthiness. The real Vladimir Kaminer can often be peeled off from the narrator figure in passages that deal with borders, travel documents, visas, migration, etc. These are often also the passages where the author’s Jewish background plays a role. For purposes of comparison or for theoretical models the article draws on Peter Bichsel’s Kindergeschichten, Yurii Mamin’s film Okno v Parizh (1994), Eduard Limonov’s novels and non-fiction writings. Roman Jakobson’s model of aphasia provides a link between traveling and narrating.
MIKHAIL GASPAROV — A MAN OF LETTERS
This collection of materials analyses the peculiarities of poetry and prose by Mikhail Gasparov (1935—2005), a well-known philologist and historian of culture and a scholar in Greek, Latin, Russian and other literatures (see the sections on the importance of his studies and his public stand in 73 (2005) and 77 of our journal). In 1999 he received Andrei Bely prize for his essay collection “Notes and excerpts”, yet only one of his own poems was published during his lifetime (though he was constantly publishing his translations of classical and modern European poetry). In this issue the scholar’s widow Alevtina Zotova-Gasparova (Moscow) presents seven of his poems written in the 1950s — 1960s. Andrei Zorin (Oxford University) in his article “Allotment of parts” comments on these poems: Gasparov thought that human personality was not solid, but rather existed as an “intersection of social relations”, and the only possibility of transforming them lied in making an effort of understanding the world around us, its history and those texts created within that history. That was why Gasparov constantly argued against the poststructuralist view that insisted on “multiple interpretation”. Boris Dubin (Independent Sociological Levada-Centre, Moscow) in his article “An author as a problem and a trauma: strategies of meaning production in M.L. Gasparov’s translations and interpretations” describes Gasparov’s translation practices as a “personal search for epos in a post-epic era”. On the other hand, Gasparov’s poetry translations were an attempt to formulate a modernist concept of the personality in a Soviet context, in which productivity of modernist art was rejected by the official propaganda. Gasparov’s translating strategy could be thus understood as a peculiar kind of postmodern poetry.
THE NEW POETICAL ECONOMY: NIKA SKANDIAKA
This collection is dedicated to the works of Nika Skandiaka (b. 1978) – one of the most radical literary innovators in modern Russian poetry. Nika Skandiaka was born in Leningrad and now lives in Edinburgh (Great Britain); she writes poetry in Russian and translates Russian 20th century poetry into English. The collection presents new poems by Skandiaka and several articles on her work. Tatiana Venediktova (Moscow State University) compares Skandiaka’s poetry to contact improvisation in contemporary dance. Ekaterina Dmitrieva (Institute of the World Literature, Moscow) writes that the complete rejection of narrativity in Skandiaka’s poems is linked to the “return of the subject”. Aleksei Parshchikov (Köln) in his article “The return of an aura?” demonstrates that affected “virtuality” of Skandiaka’s poems, thematic fronting of the images of the Internet, computer languages, etc. paradoxically help to restore the feeling of uniqueness of every moment of human existence, that seemed to be lost after “Mechanical reproduction of a work of art” (Walter Benjamin) had came about in the 20th century. Translations of modern English-speaking poetry seem to be particularly important to Skandiaka’s poems: Parshchikov provides a targeted analysis of Skandiaka’s translation of a long poem by an Irish poet Randolf Healey “Arbor Mundi” — describing how deaf-mute children master a sign language. Artemy Magun (European University and Smolny College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St. Petersburg) analyses the implicit philosophy of the name in the poetry of Osip Mandelsˇtam and Nika Skandiaka.
This issue contains a collection of materials dedicated to the memory of an outstanding Polish writer and philosopher Stanislaw Lem (1921—2006), who died in Krakow. His science fiction novels existed as intellectual experiments and contained elements parodying academic research and philosophical writings that allow us to link his works to the prose of Jose Luis Borges and other similar authors. Lem was a cult writer not only in Poland, but also for the Soviet intellectuals of 1960s—1980s. The block of materials contains articles by Maya Kaganskaya (Jerusalem) and Vladimir Borisov (Abakan, Russia); Kaganskaya describes the context within which Lem’s ideas were perceived in the USSR, while Borisov tries to determine Lem’s place in the history of Polish literature and describes the reasons Lem’s books caused such interest among the specialists in information theory in the 1960s: according to Borisov, Lem in his novels in one way or other touches the most important problems of that discipline. Konstantin Dushenko (Moscow) and Mikhail Trifonov (Moscow) present a bibliography of Lem’s works translated into Russian.
In a brief essay a poet and a literary critic Mikhail Aisenberg (Moscow) describes the works of a poet Evgeny Gerf (1937—2006). During his lifetime, Gerf who worked as a doctor, had very rarely published his poems. Several collections saw the light under a pen name, and no book had ever been published. Aisenberg presents a collection of previously unpublished poems by Gerf.