Daemon loci The formation of river images in Russian mental worlds
Russian culture and literature are rich in “river” contexts. If culture, as Father Pavel Florenskii famously asserted, is, in essence, the activity of assimilating space, Russian culture has largely unfolded as the activity of assimilating the space of rivers and the lands along their banks –lowlands, naturally. For its part, Russian literature, at least during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, has often drawn on the stories and lexicon of the river that it carries in its “baggage”. While classical Russian history and later historical geography recognized the importance of the “lowlands- river discourse” as early as the nineteenth century (primarily in the works of the great Russian historians Sergei Solove ̈v and Vasily Klyuchevsky), Russian literature only gradually, almost imperceptibly began to explore the river as a topic and incorporating it into storylines.