The article analyzes the reception of the “Secret History” pamphlet written by Procopius of Caesarea, a 7th century AD Byzantine historian, author of well-known panegyric texts about the Basileus Justinian. The manuscript of this pamphlet was found by an hellenophile Niccolo Alemanni and published in 1623 in Lyon as “Anekdota” (this literary work was first mentioned under this Greek title, meaning “unedited notes,” in “Suda,” a 10th century AD Greek encyclopedic lexicon). 17th century French historians and writers perceived “Secret History” as a unique attempt to see behind the curtain of byzantine history and to learn the true causes of great events. Antoine de Varillas, a famous historian, tried to create a “secret history” based on the history of the Medici Florence. The article argues that in the 17th century, the meaning and pragmatics of this work by Procopius were understood in an incorrect way: the text of “Secret History” could have been created as an exercise in rhetoric, in which Procopius was showing his abilities not only as a writer of panegyrics but also as a master of “inverted” praise. To support this hypothesis, the article provides examples related to the descriptions of Justinian as a demon, tracing their origin to the characters from “The Testament of Solomon”, as well as pornographic scenes dealing with the basilissa’s follies that resemble rhetorically hypertrophied exempla from the oratory skills manuals (progymnasmata) by Hermogenes of Tarsus.
The essay examines two blocks of poetry published in the pages of a Spanish literary magazine Prisma that came out in Barcelona in the 1920s. Both are literary hoaxes, result of the mysterious China motif and its circulation in Spain.
The article examines two French books written at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. The first book is “Les Paroles remarquables, les bons mots et les maximes des Orientaux” (1694; after its second edition in 1701, it is known as Orientaliana), compiled by A. Galland, a renowned French Orientalist, translator of The Thousand and One Nights. The second one, “Vasconiana, ou Recueil des bons mots, des pensées les plus plaisantes, et des rencontres les plus vives des Gascons” (1708) belongs to the pen of F. De Salvat (sieur de Montfort). Both texts contain witty remarks and anecdotic narratives and share a similar “generalizing” strategy in their representation of exotic ethnographic material. Both put forward general reflections applicable to the entire humankind instead of focusing on the “local color.” Both texts present a stark contrast to their predecessors — books with the titles made with the help of adding ana, a latin suffix of appurtenance (e.g. “Scaligerana”, “Perroniana”, “Thuana,” etc.). Those were collections of aphorisms pronounced by old and eminent scholars and statesmen. Instead, Orientaliana and Vasconiana were addressed to a “well-mannered person,” l’honnête homme who would fish for the witticisms in the books that he could use in the salon. The essay argues that such changes in target groups were due to the appearance of scientific periodicals in France at the end of the 17th century.
This essay examines Gamiani, or Two Nights of Excess, erotic novel by Alfred de Musset written at the beginning of the 1830s and widely popular in France until up to the 1920s. When writing the novel that belongs to the tradition of “black Romanticism,” de Musset was heavily drawing on the French tradition of libertinage, de Sade’s work in particular. However, he substantially revised and transformed its aesthetical and philosophical premises. The novel describing various sexual perversities of the main character, Gamiani, adheres to the aesthetical principles of Romanticism that cultivated geniality but also marginality seen as the symptom of exceptionalism. The character’s lesbian affairs may be interpreted in terms of the urge for the infinite lust, or Romantic “abyss.” These motifs became developed in Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil, especially in the poem “Lesbians.”
The first poetic collection of L. Tieck, "Gedichte" ("Poems"), comes out in 1821, a few years after the six-volume collection "Fantasus", which collected all the most significant works of the author, during the period of Tieck's creative crisis, in fact, without any need in a new collection. The first part of the "Poems" consists of both fragments of already published texts and new works. The peculiarity of the collection lies in the untypical approach to the processing of Tieck's own texts: all fragments are published without indicating the origin.The text itself changes under the fragmentation and is corrected, which makes it difficult to determine its origin.
Fragments always get their own name, always short and summative. The names of poems for the main romantic topoi, and the editng of the texts is always fulfilled in accordance with the definition in the title of the topic. The author organizes the collection thematically, moving from one group of closely related topics to another, cutting out fragments from the usual context and giving them a new one.
This atypical collection for L. Tieck can be interpreted as a kind of "encyclopedia" of early romanticism. Unlike the universalism of the "Fantasus" collection , where the texts of Tieck, relating to different genres, are framed by a narrative framework that reveals the author's main aesthetic views, the encyclopedic nature of the Poems presupposes a new, maximally detached view of one's own creativity. The collection is fundamentally different from all the other collections of Tieck and, apparently, represents an attempt by the author to rethink his own role in the development of the romantic movement and marks the beginning of the location of the engagement with him.
The study of classical religious and literary texts was the main trend of the Far Eastern traditional culture. Exegesis prompted a specific vision of philosophy, literature, and science. Examining the ties between classical texts and their commentaries is important for the better understanding of the development of the Far Eastern civilizations, including Japanese. Japanese commentaries developed, first, around central religious texts of Buddhism, Shinto, and writings by Confucius, and, second, around literary texts. This article mostly examines comments on poetic monuments of medieval Japan. These comments prompted canonization of the main literary works. Already in the early medieval time (Heian era 9–12 cc.), there appeared first comments on the classical texts of antiquity, for example, the comments to Manyōsyū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves, 8 c.), the first poetic anthology of Japan. These comments were an early attempt to restore the image of the Japanese recorded in the eight century in Chinese hieroglyphs. In the tenth century, the classical poetry acquired a new form, being recorded in both hieroglyphs and Japanese syllabary (hiragana). There were several genres of literary criticism in Japan: treatises on literature, commentaries on classical texts, compilations of anthologies (e.g. selection of literary texts for intricately organized collections), and poetic contests. Commentators mostly concentrated on deciphering the meaning of select words and phrases while the overall meaning of the text remained behind-the-scenes. The ordinary compilers and commentators on medieval artistic texts became elevated to the level of poets whereas comments began to form part of the canon. The canon itself appears to have been closely connected with compiling, editing, and commenting on the text.
The article discusses the publication history of André Gide’s book Return from the USSR written after his trip to the Soviet Union. It explains how the Kremlin gathered information about the book and how official Soviet reaction to this publication was developed. Since Gide’s decision to join in the camp of the “friends of the USSR,” information about it had been deliberately mispresented, that is why at the end of 1936 communist ideologues had to reap the fruits of their shortsightedness. Immediately after the Congress in the Defense of Culture, which took place in 1935 in Paris, Gide converged with the anti-Stalinist opposition in France and Belgium, and welcomed a campaign in support of Victor Serge, politician and writer who had passing in the case of the so called Zinoviev group and had been exiled to Orenburg. Soviet authorities knew about Gide’s conversion but accepted Mikhail Koltsov’s position who vouched Gide’s absolute loyalty. When Gide began preparing his manuscript for publication, the Kremlin was immediately informed about it. Among the informers were I. Ehrenburg, F. Masereel, and E. Ratmanova. Attempts to dissuade Gide from publication all failed. The book was translated into Russian for the leaders of the Communist party and Gide was condemned in the Soviet press. The history of the book’s publication and attention that the Kremlin paid to this question, however, demonstrates that the State control of the literary and cultural field was circumscribed within the Soviet borders. The Soviets failed to implement their program in the West. The case of Gide’s Return from the USSR shows the obvious failure of Soviet cultural diplomacy and its strategies.
Vyacheslav Ivanov developed a mythologeme of the suffering god in Hellenic Religion of the Suffering God and Dionysus and Predionysianism; this mythologeme is at the core of his Dionysian concept. The essay argues that it also influenced his translations of tragedies by Aeschylus. The essay mainly deals with the translation of Ivanov’s trilogy “Oresteia”; Ivanov interprets the characters and the plot of the trilogy in the context of Dionysism. Lexical and semantic field of the mythologeme of the suffering god includes such lexemes as “strastoterpets” (“passion-bearer”), “strastnoj” (“of passion”), and a phrase “litso zemli” (“the face of the earth”) which have Christian connotations and repeatedly occur in the above-mentioned works by Ivanov. The article demonstrates that the same words are found in his Russian translation of “Oresteia.” In most cases, the translator has to add these words since they do not correspond to any particular words in the Greek original. The synthesis of Hellenic and Christian material, so important for Ivanov’s Dionysian concept, manifests itself at the linguistic level in his translation of “Oresteia.
Balzac’s short story “The Unknown Masterpiece” (“Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu”) is one of his most commented works. This essay offers a new reading of the story by correlating the narrative structures of the text with the deforming effect these structures produce on the visual artifact (the painting) featured in “The Unknown Masterpiece.” The analysis takes into consideration the dynamic history of Balzac’s “waving” text undergoing changes with every new authorial revision that obscured the important circumstances of the plot and made the central visual image ambiguous. The latter is stratified as it acquires width instead of depth while the figure it represents protrudes from the smooth surface of the canvas. The close reading of Balzac’s text is followed by the survey of French literary works and films that elaborate, after Balzac, on “the masterpiece and the model” plot. The latter include the works by Théophile Gautier, Goncourt brothers, Émile Zola, and Jacques Rivette.
The article offers summary of the papers presented at the conference "Civil War in Spain, 80 years since. Perception and Memory" which took place in the Institute of World Literature Maxim Gorky on September 16th in 2016.
This article explores the reader community in surrealism. Surrealism, a inherently verbal and literary movement, devotes special attention to reading: quotes and allusions, the "lives" of poets play a key role in the surrealistic works. However, the ideology of surrealism is constantly changing, becoming more complicated, undergoing theoretical evolution, and the movement itself, after verbal practices, turns first to visual and then to hybrid forms of interaction. The increasing complexity of the theory leads to the formation of a special “prepared” “reader” whose perception is “brought up” by surrealistic techniques. The key here is the development of special sensuality - a kind of hybrid perception of reality, due to the complexity of the surrealist theory. The opposition of the author / reader is gradually being destroyed by the surrealists, and the community of surrealists and their readers takes on the form of an interpreting community (S. Fish).
The article gives an analysis of the first Russian translation of Abelard and Héloïse’s letters (“The Collection of Abelard and Héloïse’s letters with attachment of life description of these miserable lovers”) made by A. I. Dmitriev in 1783 from count Bussy-Raboutin’s retelling. A comparative analysis of Dmitriev’s translation with the original text shows the conventional character of their connection. Following Bussy, Dmitriev not always sticks to original letters even in the main points. If he retains the canvas of the original medieval text, he supplements it with countless details: a portrait of a lover, a tear-drenched letter, mad passion. A similar transformation takes place with the “Historia Calamitatum” in the retelling of Augustus von Kotzebue. Both authors in the preface designate their works as “female” reading. The interest in the story of the two lovers is probably caused by the recent release of J.-J. Rousseau’s “Julie, or the New Heloise”. The choice of material, the nature of its processing, the appeal to women and the circumstances of the printing of Dmitriev’s translation and Kotzebue’s retelling demonstrate the commitment of these authors to sentimentalism, which explains their desire to cause tears in the eyes of their readers.
The article analyses emblematics and emblematic discourse in Robert Burton’s «The Anatomy of Melancholy». It offers an extended view of emblematics outside the emblem books proper, a discursive emblem which organizes both structure and the narrative, epitomized by the emblematic frontispiece of the book. Article considers the intricate structure of the book in its connection with genre uncertainty of the text as either a scientific treatise, encyclopedia, commonplace book, epideictic text and others. Singular vs universal dualism is further put forward as the underpinning structure for the book and there are concluded both emblematic and dialectic intentions of «The Anatomy of Melancholy». The work further analyses emblematic frontispiece, revealing several emblematic structures and hints, consistently explicated in the article. It is argued that by both its visual and verbal means the frontispiece emblematically emphasises the antithesis of «duplicity» vs «singularity», underlying in book’s multi-level structure (author-reader, Democritus Abderitus and Democritus Junior, pre- and postlapsarian man and others). Analysis further demonstrates «Anatomy»’s continuity with cento and florilegia’s traditions, which defines author’s writing method. Author is ultimately argued to be using discursive emblem and emblematic discourse to establish his artifex’s status, which helps him to avoid melancholy himself and drives him to help reader do the same. The article postulates that emblematic frontispiece creates dialectic of «duplicity» and «singularity» in he book and solves it by demonstrating emblematic mechanism of reading it through emblematic lenses of joining together Word and Image, i.e. as an emblem book: this is what, in Burton’s mind, must offer both him and his reader the cure of Melancholy.