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Article

L'époque est prophétique: la Bible dans la poésie de la Révolution

Slavica occitania. 2020. Vol. 51. P. 267-280.

Images from ancient mythology and literature were predominant mythopoetic components of Russian modernist poetry. Global historical cataclysms of the first decades of the twentieth century, however, prompted Russian poets to turn to biblical imagery. Influenced by revolutionary upheavals, poets began to interpret contemporary events through the prism of biblical archetypes. My essay discusses a number of biblical images that attained special actuality in the period of “wars and revolutions,” 1914–1922. WWI and the Civil War were depicted through the imagery of the fratricidal Cain and Abel story. The 1917 revolutions were widely perceived through the imagery of major biblical events -- creation, the Deluge, or the Exodus. The aim of the revolutions was often associated with the imagery of the Garden of Eden, and, accordingly, the generation of the revolution was associated with Adam and Eve. An axiologically opposite vision of the Bolshevik revolution likewise employed biblical imagery: the pre-revolutionary world was portrayed as Paradise lost, while “the fall into sin,” fratricides, and attempts to build the tower of Babel came in its wake. My paper also discusses the transformations in the self-perception of many Russian modernist poets under the influence of revolutionary events. The typological vision of contemporary times as equivalent to biblical times actualized the figure of the biblical prophet as a prototype for a modern Russian poet.