Introducing Historical Poetics: History, Experience, Form
The chapter juxtaposes Veselovsky’s theory of the persistence of forms with the set of critical practices known as New Historicism, and shows that both approaches exclude the possibility of new forms arising. The chapter suggests that both the oblivion of an old form and the rise of the new result from a fundamental shift in perception that occurs within the order of verbal creativity and does not lend itself to a historical-deterministic explanation.
The compilation is dedicated to the poetics of Cervantes and to the transformations of the characters of his books in the prose of other authors worldwide.
The paper includes a translation of the ghazal _“Dil-am juz mihr-i mah-rūyān ṭarīq-ī bar-namīgīrad”_ (“My heart follows no other path save love of the moon-faced”. We prepared it for the second volume of the complete philological translation of the Divan (for the first volume, ghazals 1 ‒ 100 see [Hafiz 2012] in the _Literature_ to the article).
The introductory part contains some preliminary data on the given poem. Hafiz composed it as an ‘answer’ to the ghazal of Shah Shujaʻ, the ruler of Shiraz and the patron of the poet (regretfully the sources preserved only the opening two half lines of the ruler’s poem). The “pearls” or lines of the ghazal seem unstrung; it counts 14 beyts (almost twice the standard number), what enhances the effect of semantic disintegration. The poem serves as a good example of Hafiz’s signature poetic technique of associative and parallel montage of themes and images.
The Persian text of the ghazal (according to Qazvini‒Gani version) and its Russian prose equilinear translation is followed by the detailed commentary to each beyt of the poem. It contains some philological particulars about the wording and imagery and the arguments on the choice of a given interpretation. We also trace the main themes of the poem as we see them, one of them being the “futility of advice”, and the other ‒ “the futility of poetry”. The complex interplay of those two themes is what keeps the sequence of “disintegrated” lines together. It also highlights the great poet's overall message of “the weary feeling of the futility of words”.
Historical Poetics, while in many ways an ally of Formalism, finds itself in an uneasy relationship with the empiricist mode of formalist enquiry, inasmuch as the latter is seen as generally inimical to historical contextualization. On the other hand, representatives of both Historical Poetics and of the morphological method have at different points been accused of favoring atomizing analysis over aesthetic appreciation. Ironically, this putative inability to grasp the work of art as a totality is a taint that literary theory inherited from nineteenth-century philology whose mission was precisely to combine historicization with minute attention to details of verbal texture. By emphasizing their shared philological patrimony, the article argues for a reconciliation between the morphological method and Historical Poetics. An energetic theory of literary forms, which detects historical vitality in distinct elements revealed by morphological analysis, has important precedents in Alexander Veselovsky’s theory of motif and Mikhail Bakhtin’s concepts of architectonics and the chronotope.