Bakhtin's Romantic Grotesque In Konstantin Vaginov's Novels: Alienation from the Soviet Society and the Pre-Revolutionary Culture's Loss
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis current work focuses on death and “mask” motifs in Konstantin Vaginov’s novels Kozlinaia pesnʹ (The Goat Song; 1926), Trudy i dni Svistonova (The Works and Days of Svistonov; 1929), and Bambochada (Bambocciada; 1929-30) by engaging with Mikhail Bakhtin’s discussion of the romantic grotesque that reflects people’s subjective perceptions of the world and themselves and the estrangement and hostility of a previously familiar world. The current research argues that Vaginov uses these motifs against the backdrop of romantic grotesque to illustrate his characters’ (Teptyolkin, Misha Kotikov, Kostia Rotikov, Ermilov, Evgenii, Toropulo, and Neizvestnyi poet) disengagement from the new, Soviet society. Being examined through Bakhtin’s theory of carnivalization, the romantic grotesque in the novels serves as the means for Vaginov to portray how the world, which is hostile and alien to the characters, now seems artificial, a parody of the real one to them. In addition to their alienation from the new society, Vaginov illustrates his characters’ inability to revive the old, pre-revolutionary culture as the surrounding byt (way of life) and lack of inspiration overpower them. Firstly, the present inquiry maintains that Vaginov characters’ fixation on death or fear of it represents their perception of the world as an imitation, their inability to bring the old culture back as well as their self-perception as half-humans and the living dead. Secondly, this work examines the characters’ wearing “masks” as the means to disguise their real, banal personalities. Lastly, this work details scholarship on Vaginov’s works in the context of the 1920s literature and on his polemic with Silver Age poets. This research examines the novels’ juxtaposition of the new world with the old one and expounds upon the characters’ striving to attain higher ideals, which clashes with everyday byt. The current work maintains that Vaginov was able to capture his own and his contemporaries’ feeling of culture’s loss, their alienation from the new society as well as their romantic grotesque self-perceptions and of the world around them.
Degree ProgramGraduate College