Emmets and Emotions: Reflections on the First Cycle of A. Solzhenitsyn's Miniatures

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Abstract

Solzhenitsyn’s reading of nature was that of a city dweller who sees the countryside as distant and exotic; and of a Russian patriot who moralized rural spaces while identifying them as sites of transcendent beauty that hold national values. His “Miniatures,” or prose poems, represent a distillation of these authorial attitudes. The “Miniatures” touch upon themes that are central to this writer’s prose: history, tyranny, people in nature, people in confined spaces, the poetics of the body, the ethics of artistic creativity, as well as the presence or absence of God in the lives of his countrymen. Always when thing Soviet, things modern intrude into Solzhenitsyn’s bucolic spaces, the mood darkens and the text acquires a polemical edge. Yet, but for the references to the Soviet here and now, there is nothing in the “Miniatures” that would have startled or puzzled Ivan Turgenev or Ivan Bunin, while in places these pieces manifest resonances that may be described as Tolstoyan. So, generically and stylistically, the pieces are out of time, though not out of place, which makes them the most problematic of Solzhenitsyn’s artistic creations. As an experiment in the archaization of the literary text the “Miniatures” may be read as pastiches, a receptor stance that interrogates their genre and style from a Postmodern perspective.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-174
Journal Vestnik Moskovskogo universiteta. Seriia 9. Filologiia
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Solzhenitsyn
  • prose poems
  • nature descriptions
  • sentimentalism
  • theodicy

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