Judgement Day of Russian Literature. Post-Classical Novel: The Canon and Transgression
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Abstract: The article examines the evolution of the Russian post-classical novel through its relationship with the classical tradition. It argues that the Russian literary canon had a decisive impact on the development of the novel in the 20th century, and became a point of departure for the Russian novel in the 21st century. Two leading strands emerged: one, harmonious, associated with the names of Pushkin – Turgenev – Goncharov – Tolstoy, the other, disharmonic: Gogol – Leskov – Dostoevsky. The first strand affirmed the wholeness of the world, mental health and rationalism. The second one affirmed the discreteness, unknowability of the world, irrationality, perversity and morbidity. The former gravitated towards naturalism, realism and the conventions of epic narrative, the latter towards displacement of natural proportions, fiction and grotesque. If the Symbolist (Sologub, Remizov, Bely) and the early Soviet novel (Bulgakov, Platonov, Olesha) relied on the tradition of Gogol and Dostoevsky, then the Soviet novel is both mainstream (Fadeev, Sholokhov, Simonov) and uncensored (Pasternak, Grossman, Solzhenitsyn) and definitely relied on the tradition of Tolstoy. In the modernist and early Soviet novel, the dominant attitude was to demonstrate the absurdity and fragmentation of the world, while in Socialist Realism the idea of harmonization and epicity triumphed. In the post-Stalinist period, there is a connection between these opposing strands, when different directions (lyrical, urban, war and village prose) are based on different strands in the Russian novel. In the post-Soviet novel, with the destruction of literary-centricity, there is a break with tradition and the literary canon. This gap is thematized and becomes the subject of reflection and defamiliarisation in the novels of Sorokin and Pelevin, Shishkin and Sharov, Rubina and Ulitskaya. Since postmodernism denies the ideology and completeness-isolation-integrity, conventional fictional and historical text becomes the main ground for the postmodern experiment. Pastiche, cross-cutting quotation, grotesque and ironic play with classical and Soviet discourse occupies an important place in the postmodern novel, where literary discourse is deconstructed and the traditional narrative devices and conventions of the classical novel are exposed.
Key words: Russian novel; literary traditions; poetics; symbolism; socialist realism; realism; postmodernism.
Dobrenko, E. А. (2020). Judgement Day of Russian Literature. Post-Classical Novel: The Canon and Transgression. In Philological Class. 2020. Vol. 25 ⋅ №3. P. 9-22. DOI 10.26170/FK20-03-01.