Stiftelsen för forskning inom områden med anknytning till Östersjöregionen och Östeuropa

”Man builds and gets destroyed himself”: Aesthetics of the sublime in Soviet Russian Literature

Ämne: Slaviska språk
Projektledare: Tora Lane
Startår: 2014
Projekttyp: Projekt

This is a multidisciplinary project at the crossroads of Russian cultural history, post-Soviet studies, literary theory, aesthetics, and philosophy. The purpose of the project proposed is to study the aesthetics of the sublime in selected works in Soviet Russian Literature. The underlying hypothesis is that different modes of the aesthetics of the sublime can be identified in the history of interpretations of the sublime. The distinction that I make is between what I call the heroic sublime of the Soviet official literary canon and the tragic sublime in the works of writers as Pilnyak and Platonov, who subsequently became repressed. Previously, the sublime has mainly been studied as part of the grandeur of Soviet socialist construction, but this study will show that a special understanding of the sublime also underlies a tragic understanding of Soviet construction. To quote Andrei Platonov’s existential remark disclosing the destructive effect of “construction” on man: “Man builds, and gets destroyed himself”. In order to carry out this study I will (1) make a historical critical overview of the concept and different aesthetic doctrines of the Sublime as it was formed in modern times, starting from Burke, Kant and the romantic thinkers (2) analyse how the concept of the Sublime and its doctrines transformed in the historical, literary and political contexts in Russian and Soviet culture with particular focus on Modernism (3) examine how these aesthetics of the Sublime were implemented in the politics of representation and the practises of writing in Soviet Russian Literature. I will study critical works and do close readings of a few selected literary works, written in Russia during the period 1920-1950.