Brother Journalist: Tom Wolfe and the Serapions
The purpose of this article is to analyze a peculiar case of a creative appropriation, made possible by a combination of coincidences, readings, and misconceptions during the time Tom Wolfe (1930–2018), future bestselling author, reformer of American journalism, and controversial public intellectual spent at Yale as a graduate student in the 1950s. This appropriation appears to have been generated by a confluence of factors that impressed itself on Wolfe’s mind. He referred to this confluence as “the Serapion Brothers” and repeatedly confessed to having been influenced by this group. The Serapions, according to him, were experimental, avant-garde Soviet writers, heirs to French Symbolism, who wrote about the Russian Revolution in a highly unconventional manner. Critics took Wolfe’s incorrect statements at face value; the far-reaching influence was noted but never looked into. In fact, this influence seems to have stemmed from a source misunderstood by Wolfe himself, making his authoritative work resonate with a different element of Russian modernist tradition and informing his theory of the New Journalism. Wolfe’s professed realism was dominated by aesthetic and differed in the way of engaging the reader’s subjectivity from the European tradition that he claimed to have followed.
Russian verse studies are characterized by a distinctive tradition of applying quantitative methods to analyze poetic texts. The development of this tradition in the late 20th and early 21st century led to the formation of a cognitive poetics that uses methods of modeling processes of versification. This paper extends these methods to the comparative study of the processes involved in the emergence and development of analogous versification systems in different traditions. In particular, this article presents some results of the comparative analysis of .interaction between meter and language in the formation of iambic verse in different languages, English, Dutch, German and Russian.