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Civic poetry in Russian Prague : making sense of the recent past and present

Ben Dhooge (UGent)
(2017) RUSSIAN LITERATURE. 87-89. p.147-200
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Abstract
The trauma of exile affected the cultural production of the interwar Russian émigré community and, like in other diasporas, honed the émigrés’ attention on issues of politics, memory and (cultural) identity. Nonetheless, despite their all-dominating nature, the 1917 Revolutions and the traumatic events that followed suit never became a major topic in Russian émigré literature of the time. An exception to the rule is the literary oeuvre of the largely unexplored Prague Russian émigré group “Skit poetov” (“A Hermitage of Poets”). The present article shortly discusses the group’s attitude towards writing literature on the very raison d’être of life in exile and its literary practice. The main emphasis, however, lies on the analysis of two long, complex poems which were published in tandem in the journal Volia Rossii in 1928. Both poems can be called the very height of the kind of poetry the Prague literary community advocated as they not only interpret and evaluate the events of 1917 and their aftermath, but also draw a future that is a logical and inevitable continuation of the remote and recent past. Aleksei Eisner’s ‘Konnitsa’ (‘Cavalry’, 1928) foretells a Eurasianist future for Europe: Russians take the lead in a barbarian raid on Europe to “uncivilize” it, repeating past battles and sieges that were decisive for Russia’s development. Viacheslav Lebedev’s Westernist ‘Poema vremennykh let’ (‘Poem of Bygone Years’, 1928) instead offers a Westernist future, whereby Europeanized Russian emigrants will defeat the Bolsheviks and colonize Russia with European culture.
Keywords
Skit poetov, Modernity, Civil War, Revolution, Viacheslav Lebedev, Aleksandr Turintsev, Cerise

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Dhooge, Ben. 2017. “Civic Poetry in Russian Prague : Making Sense of the Recent Past and Present.” Russian Literature 87-89: 147–200.
APA
Dhooge, Ben. (2017). Civic poetry in Russian Prague : making sense of the recent past and present. RUSSIAN LITERATURE, 87-89, 147–200.
Vancouver
1.
Dhooge B. Civic poetry in Russian Prague : making sense of the recent past and present. RUSSIAN LITERATURE. Elsevier BV; 2017;87-89:147–200.
MLA
Dhooge, Ben. “Civic Poetry in Russian Prague : Making Sense of the Recent Past and Present.” RUSSIAN LITERATURE 87-89 (2017): 147–200. Print.
@article{8517961,
  abstract     = {The trauma of exile affected the cultural production of the interwar Russian {\'e}migr{\'e} community and, like in other diasporas, honed the {\'e}migr{\'e}s{\textquoteright} attention on issues of politics, memory and (cultural) identity. Nonetheless, despite their all-dominating nature, the 1917 Revolutions and the traumatic events that followed suit never became a major topic in Russian {\'e}migr{\'e} literature of the time. An exception to the rule is the literary oeuvre of the largely unexplored Prague Russian {\'e}migr{\'e} group {\textquotedblleft}Skit poetov{\textquotedblright} ({\textquotedblleft}A Hermitage of Poets{\textquotedblright}). The present article shortly discusses the group{\textquoteright}s attitude towards writing literature on the very raison d{\textquoteright}{\^e}tre of life in exile and its literary practice. The main emphasis, however, lies on the analysis of two long, complex poems which were published in tandem in the journal Volia Rossii in 1928. Both poems can be called the very height of the kind of poetry the Prague literary community advocated as they not only interpret and evaluate the events of 1917 and their aftermath, but also draw a future that is a logical and inevitable continuation of the remote and recent past. Aleksei Eisner{\textquoteright}s {\textquoteleft}Konnitsa{\textquoteright} ({\textquoteleft}Cavalry{\textquoteright}, 1928) foretells a Eurasianist future for Europe: Russians take the lead in a barbarian raid on Europe to {\textquotedblleft}uncivilize{\textquotedblright} it, repeating past battles and sieges that were decisive for Russia{\textquoteright}s development. Viacheslav Lebedev{\textquoteright}s Westernist {\textquoteleft}Poema vremennykh let{\textquoteright} ({\textquoteleft}Poem of Bygone Years{\textquoteright}, 1928) instead offers a Westernist future, whereby Europeanized Russian emigrants will defeat the Bolsheviks and colonize Russia with European culture.},
  author       = {Dhooge, Ben},
  issn         = {0304-3479},
  journal      = {RUSSIAN LITERATURE},
  keyword      = {Skit poetov,Modernity,Civil War,Revolution,Viacheslav Lebedev,Aleksandr Turintsev,Cerise},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {147--200},
  publisher    = {Elsevier BV},
  title        = {Civic poetry in Russian Prague : making sense of the recent past and present},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ruslit.2017.04.007},
  volume       = {87-89},
  year         = {2017},
}

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