Grotesque in the Lyric Poems by S. Esenin and V. Mayakovskiy of the 1920s
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Abstract: The article investigates the semantics and functions of grotesque in the lyric poems of the 1920s. This was a transitional, critical period stirring the rise of grotesque aesthetics. The study focuses on the expressionist poems “The Mare’s Ships” (1919) by S. Esenin and “About this” (1923) by V. Mayakovsky, in which the modernist grotesque plays the role of a stylistic dominant. The article considers the collision of grotesque transformation of one’s own world into an alien one, estrangement of traditional romantic images, non-logical metaphorical visualization of abstract notions leading to a feeling of surrealistic nightmare. Considering as an example the poem “The Mare’s Ships”, related to Esenin’s transition to imaginism, it is traced how the holistic image of an antiworld is created. Attention is also attracted to the motif composition of the poem, especially to the deformation of corporal and natural images and to non-logical combination of incompatible things. In Esenin’s lyric poem, grotesque becomes a way to resist the new social order and the ideology of “a bright future”. In the poem “About this” by Mayakovsky, the author of the article distinguishes a close relationship between grotesque and duality, as well as between grotesque and metamorphoses stressing the phantasmagoric nature of the surrounding reality. Emphasis is given to the peculiar combination of domestic and natural images. The author demonstrates that the lyric plot in the poem develops as a large-scale fantastic experiment revealing the tragic incompatibility of the romantic ideal with the present era. In spite of the differences in creative individualities of the two poets, the poems by Mayakovsky and Esenin exhibit similar features in the personality of the lyric character, and specifically, the readiness to self-sacrifice that distinguishes him from callous inhabitants. For Esenin and Mayakovsky, the grotesque becomes a way to materialize and visualize the mental sufferings of the lyric character, first of all, the painful feeling of estrangement from the world. It is concluded that in these poems, the grotesque is used for large-scale lyric interpretation of the most typical contemporary contradictions.
Key words: Grotesque, expressionism, lyric character, lyric poem, V. Mayakovsky, S. Esenin
Skripova, O. A. (2020). Grotesque in the Lyric Poems by S. Esenin and V. Mayakovskiy of the 1920s. In Philological Class. 2020. Vol. 25 ⋅ №3. P. 108-117. DOI 10.26170/FK20-03-09.