Pushkin and Romantic Fashion: Fragment, Elegy, Orient, Irony
Pushkin and Romantic Fashion is about the interpenetration of culture and personality, specifically Alexander I's Russian Empire, a latecomer in post-Napoleonic European history, and Aleksandr Pushkin, virtuoso improvisor yet prisoner of the Golden Age discourses that now bear his name. It focuses on Pushkin's use of the Romantic fragment, especially the link between the fragment and Romantic irony's fundamental and modern questioning of the sources and intentionality of language. In the view of such irony's most eloquent formulator, Friedrich Schlegel, "identity" does not precede speech, but is forged in each improvisational interaction with interlocutor or reader. One finds out who one is by speaking, and all utterances and texts stand in a fragmentary, contingent relation to an accumulating life-text. Pushkin may actually come closest of all major European poets to realizing what Schlegel prescribed, or diagnosed, as the poetics of modernity, not because of any direct links, but because as common latecomers on the European cultural scene, Russian and German writers shared a fascination with European fashions and an ironic talent for conflating or stepping outside them. Thus Pushkin's kaleidoscopic explorations of fashionable European genres, from "Augustan" erotic elegy to the archaic Greek lyric fragment, from the Byronic Oriental poetic tale to Shakespearean chronicle drama, from the modern "society tale" to the Walter Scott historical novel, can be seen as ever more dramatic rewritings of and meditations on a previous life-text. This fragmentary and ironic self-presentation has ensured that every generation of Pushkin readers, no matter how gilded with cultural authority the poetbecame, "talked back." The author is deeply concerned to embed Pushkin in a larger European context in a way critically consonant with the best in Western Romantic studies. She locates Pushkin's penchant for fragmentary structures in a European discourse of fragmentation, reveali
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aesthetic Alexander Pushkin allegory ancient Andre Chenier artist audience Bakhchisarai Batiushkov Bon's Boris Godunov Byron Caucasus chapter Charsky classical context creative culture dacha Diderot discourse Dmitry dramatic E. T. A. Hoffmann Egipetskie nochi Egyptian Nights elegiac elegy erotic Eugene Onegin Eugene's European experience eyes fragmentary frame frame tale French Friedrich Schlegel genre Greek Greek Anthology historical human imagination inspiration ironic irony Journey to Arzrum Karamzin kin's Kiukhel'beker Kleopatra language lbid Leningrad Lensky Lensky's Letters of Alexander linguistic literary lyrical Mikhailovskoe modern Moscow narrative narrator narrator's Nauka novel Odessa Oriental original passion Petersburg phrase Pimen play plot poem poet poet's poetic poetry political precisely prose Proserpine Pushkin on Literature reader repetition Rhetoric role Romantic Romanticism Russian salon scene Schlegel Shakespeare Shuisky society stanza story structure tale Tatiana tion trans translation tsar Tynianov University Press Viazemsky words writing