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Article

Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk district: About Leskov's Literariness

Toronto Slavic Quarterly. 2010. No. 33. P. 261-285.

This paper explores the concept of  of  'literariness' (Roman Jakobson's term) on the material of  Leskov's popular scetch Lady Makbet of Mtsensk District. Literariness in Leskov’s „Lady Macbeth” consists of a certain set of literary devices, including: using intertexts from Shakespeare and folklore; cohesive motifs (red and gold colors, the image of river, the black viper), the narrative details (poisoned tea), an overarching liturgical subtext as a symbol (the feast of the Mother of God’s Entrance into the Temple), and a creature appearing as a mystic symbol (the cat). All these marked elements are not merely operative in the texture of the work but also incorporated in a way that makes them non­obvious. Each element has worked for the overall goal — of making the main character more signifcant, or revealing the true meaning of the events for the story as a whole. As a result of this dual activity of, frst, activating and, then, hiding literary elements, the work itself exemplifes true literariness, in Roman Jakobson’s sense.