1 Religious sensibility dukhovnost 2 Maximalism 3 Writer as secular saint 4

1 religious sensibility dukhovnost 2 maximalism 3

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(1) Religious sensibility ( dukhovnost’ ) (2) Maximalism (3) Writer as secular saint (4) Heterodox literary forms (5) Belatedness (6) Literature as social conscience (7) Problem of personality ( lichnost’ ) (8) Space-time oppositions (East/West, old/new) (9) Eros-cum-national myth (1) Religious sensibility. Perhaps the first and arguably the most important formative influence/psychological trait to come to mind is Russian culture’s
30. PART I Russian Literature: Background, Foreground, Creative Cognition pervasive spirituality ( dukhovnost’ ) and, correlatively, the written word’s traditionally sacred status. Russia (Kievan Rus’) was Christianized under Prince Vladimir in the year 988, and from roughly that point until well into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the entire notion of literature as a secular form of pleasure or edification was largely moot. There were saints’ lives ( vitae ), sermons, chronicles, and even epics (e.g. The Igor Tale ), but what is interesting from a modern vantage is that the category of “fiction” (i.e. a self-contained world wholly created through words that is understood by its reader to be artificial, hence “untrue”) came late to Russian literature. Indeed, it can be argued that much of the attraction of the great works of Russian literature is due to th is tendency of reader reception/perception: Russian “fictions” about the world are more “real” than the real-life context into which they are read and absorbed. Russian writers have long operated under the conviction that they are writing, not one more book, but versions, each in its way sacred, of The Book (Bible). Thus, when some modern Russian writers have taken a militantly materialist, anti-spiritualist approach to reality, the fervidness and single- mindedness of their commitment to new belief systems often suggest a replay of various medieval models of behavior, replete with the latter’s thematics of conversion. Likewise, Leo Tolstoy’s anti-clericalism and his sharp criticism of Orthodox dogma and ritual are, significantly, not in the name of Voltairean enlightenment and urbane secularism but in that of a new religion, which came to be known as “Tolstoyanism.” One of the attributes of this religious sensibility that continues in the shadow life of some of the most influential Russian poems, novels, and dramas is the transposing of medieval forms of sacred writing (especially hagiography) to later secular works. Examples include Ivan Turgenev’s “Living Relics,” Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s What Is to Be Done? , Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov, Sergei Stepnyak -Kravchinsky’s Andrei Kozhukhov , Maksim Gorky’s Mother . What the vita requires is that the personal become sanctified, monumentalized, subsumed within the impersonality of holiness, which means — if one con- siders how much the modern novel in the European and Anglo-American “bourgeois” traditions depends on individual, concrete examples of an open, developing biography and history (e.g. the Bildungsroman ) — that

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