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Article

Klingers „Faust“ und der russische Leviathan: Der Roman und die Machtverhältnisse in Russland unter Katharina II.

Zeitschrift fur Slawistik. 2017. Vol. 62. No. 4. P. 558-582.

The article suggests a hypothesis in the light of which an attempt is made to consider the novel of F. M. Klinger Faust’s Leben, Thaten und Hoellen- fahrt (1791) as a representation of power relations in Russia under Catherine II. This novel illustrates the ideological position of Klinger, who for many years has observed with his own eyes cultural and political situation in Russia in the late 18th century, when Catherine II was praised as an enlightened reformer. However, the enlightened ideology of Catherine II was often a despotic autocracy in social life and “enslavement” in everyday life. To represent the space of ideological confrontation, Klinger used the “devilish” perspective from the Faust legend as a satirical technique. The fictive place of publication (“Petersburg”) on the front page of the Faust-novel initiates a chain of associations: “enlightened” Russia appears before the enlightened readers as an illusion, a “leviathanischer Schein” (a word, frequently used in the novel), an invention of European philosophers and travelers. Klinger combines religious and philosophical connotations of the figure of Leviathan, who acquires the features of Gregory Potemkin. Leviathan becomes therefore a symbol of the power relations under Catherine II and a satirical representation of the ideological “monstrosity” of the Russian Enlightenment.