Vladislav Khodasevich’s “On Your New, Joyous Path” (1914–1915): The Russian Literary Empire Interferes in Polish-Jewish Relations
This paper contextualizes Khodasevich’s unfinished poem “On Your New, Joyous Path” (1914–1915) as his poetic response to his precarious Russian-Polish-Jewish self-awareness as well as to contemporary Polish-Jewish tensions. I argue that for both predicaments, Khodasevich proposes an identical solution: the redemptive assimilation into Russian imperial, supranational culture. This vision crystallized during World War I. At that time, the key dichotomy underlying Khodasevich’s imperial project – between the national and the imperial – took the form of opposition between Polish particularism and the universalism of Russian culture. Yet an attempt to realize this vision in the poem discussed underscores its inner ambiguity, since it reinforces clear-cut imperial narratives of Russia as the epitome of humanitarian values while leaving the logic of imperial power struggle untouched. Conflicting Jewish and Polish identities and the historical circumstances of the Polish-Jewish tensions are considered as a context for the poem’s vision of Russian messianic superiority. In conclusion, I discuss the reception of Khodasevich’s assimilatory project by his target audience.