The Verbal-Visual Architecture and Symbols of Sacred History in Russian Émigré Newspapers of Bulgaria

Keywords: poetics of newspaper, Easter celebration, cult image, pictorial space, the three semantic functions of language, Russian émigrés in Bulgaria, sacred history


In this article, the author tests a novel analytical approach, confining himself to the necessary historical contextualisation of this approach and its objects. By applying it to the celebratory aesthetic activity of a non-clerical community in late modernity, it is possible to discern a sincere and sophisticated commitment to the sacred and a cultivation of mysticism that vivifies deeply traditional forms of the sacred. Referring to Hans Belting’s theory of cult image, Dimitŭr Georgiev’s methods of analysis of the “architecture of the newspaper”, Otto Demus’ theory of Byzantine mosaic decoration, and the theories of festivity of Roger Caillois, Mirchea Eliade, and Joseph Pieper, the author defines his core object as celebratory visual-verbal newspaper compositions and his approach as an architectural literary analysis of newspapers. In effect, a newspaper issue is viewed as a typographic projection of a festive chronotope and a potential visualverbal religious ensemble on the verge between a cult image and a work of art. The expressive forms within a newspaper, including literary works, are understood against the framework of such distinctions as those between appeal/expression and representation, aniconism and iconism, and tautegory and allegory. Referring to these distinctions and an analysis of the 1925 Easter composition in Rus’, the author introduces the concept of “grades/levels/degrees of illustrativity”, or “degree of mediation of the presence of the sacred”. The concept and its workability are exemplified by analysing elements of Easter compositions from 1924–1925 (Rus’ edited by Kallinikov), 1933–1935 (Golos Truda), and (again) 1934 (Rus’ edited by Butov): these examples were chosen after an examination of a wider range of sources from the period between 1922 and 1936. The author demonstrates that current historical events were perceived through a specific mental prism so that they were integrated into Christian sacred history. Visual and verbal elements of newspaper design were combined and artistic and non-artistic texts were concatenated in ways actively reminiscent of the liturgical function of the word and its connection to the architectural-liturgical ensemble, varying from a loose and conditional attachment to actual embeddedness. This article presents poetological preliminaries (while the author views the sociological approach as equally desirable) to an investigation of newspaper as the Gesamtkunstwerk form within the interwar Russian émigré community of Bulgaria.

Author Biography

Yordan Lyutskanov

PhD (Philology), Associate Professor, Institute for Literature of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Bldg. 17, 52, Shipchencki Prohod Blvd., 1113, Sofia, Bulgaria.

ORCID 0000-0002-6363-1585


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How to Cite
Lyutskanov, Y. (2021). The Verbal-Visual Architecture and Symbols of Sacred History in Russian Émigré Newspapers of Bulgaria. Quaestio Rossica, 9(2), 547–561.
Problema voluminis