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Book chapter

Символическая повесть. Ч. 2

С. 211-239.
Брагинская Н. В., Шмаина-Великанова А. И.

This article is the second part of our research aiming at introducing into common scholarly usage a new concept, which we designate “symbolic tale” (ST). The term refers to a shorter and «uncrowded» prosaic literary genre; based on traditional folkloric and mythological images which it reinterprets in order to match with actual and important ideological, religious or social tasks. In this part of the work we add to our previous description only two new characteristics of ST, which have been only cursorily mentioned in the first part—namely, discontineous flow of time combined with symbolic count of years and days (three, seven, eight, twelve), and elliptical composition with two centres, peaks or culminations. These features are present, to a greater or lesser degree, in all the analysed ST, despite their compositional differences and the large diversity of ways they deal with the time. Thus, in “The Story of our father Agapius” two climaxes are required both ideologically and narratively, because they have important historical implications; while in the Book of Ruth the mere presence of two culminations is questionable. Symbolism in the count of days is extremely important in the Book of Judith and in the “Acts of Paul and Thecla”, while it is almost absent in “Cupid and Psyche”. Nevertheless, from the shortest ST of Susanna and the Elders (ch. 13 of the Greek Book of Daniel), where the narrative is just three days long and culminations are barely outlined, up to the extensive “Life of Aesop”, where the narration time takes longer than the lifetime of the hero and no culmination can be discovered at first glance, one can notice that the time and the composition of these works do not aim at verisimilitude, but are completely subordinated to their ideological task.