Bolkonsky will not die: fan fiction based on Russian classical literature
This article is devoted to the phenomenon of fan fiction in its interaction with Russian classical literature. Traditionally fan fiction is associated with products of mass culture – fantasy novels, TV-series, anime or comic books. The transformation by creative fans of canonical literary texts is not common practice. In Russia and the Russian-speaking world where “great Russian literature” has “sacred” status and learning the classics of Russian literature at secondary school is obligatory, fan fiction based on classical texts is an especially exotic and shocking phenomenon. In this work I list the key characteristics of Russian classics fan fiction. I indicate the most popular Russian classical texts for fan fiction writers – Eugene Onegin, War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, Woe from Wit, and describe the typical narratives of fanfics – “crossovers”, “slash” stories, and alternative endings. I also reveal a unique subgenre of fan fiction specific for Russian classical literature in which an author of original work and his heroes are put into the same literary space. Further, the particular attention given to literary classics in the Russian-speaking world, the secondary school experience, and their influence on the creative processes of fan fiction are problematized in this research. From a series of in-depth interviews with fan fiction writers, I identify specific emotional modes – “feeling of guilt”, “responsibility”, and “challenge”, that are typical of the Russian classics fan fiction experience.