The Mysticism of History and the Transcendent Vision of the Great Patriotic War

Keywords: literature about war, salvation archetypes, history mysticism, theodicy


This article examines the evolution of “mystical discourse” in the literature on the Great Patriotic War from 1941 to 2008. It analyses the content of ideas about the participation of supernatural principles in people’s relations and in the fate of peoples in different historical conditions. The author reveals the gnoseological potential and socio-cultural mission of irrational knowledge that claims to be the universal truth. The “transcendent vision” formula integrates a variety of manifestations – from intuitions to metaphysical concepts. The analysis is done with reference to poetry by K. Simonov, A. Akhmatova, A. Tvardovsky, N. Glazkov, Yu. Kuznetsov, the poem Leningrad Apocalypse by D. Andreev, Mother’s Dreams by V. Shukshin, God and the Soldier by V. Pietsukh, Live and Remember by V. Rasputin, Psalm by F. Gorenstein, Cursed and Killed by V. Astafyev, and Tankman or ‘White Tiger’ by I. Boyashov. The author’s reflections on the transcendent is realised in three modes: discovery, mystical propensities, and philosophising. The discovery of the presence of the mystical principle as a real and beneficial force is characteristic of wartime lyrics. Vital intuition actualises the archetypal resource of national culture: ancestral memory, the voice of the Earth, nature, the patronage of ancestors, and the sacred power of the Russian word. Awareness of the special protective mission of love is based on the deep ethics of folk tradition and corresponds to the ideas of religious philosophy about the participation of the Wisdom of God in human relations. The effectiveness of both is confirmed by prophetic dreams and actions of the heroines in the works by V. Shukshin and V. Rasputin. Theodicy became the central problem in the post-war feeling of a disastrous social experience. A visionary poem by D. Andreev and ballads by Yu. Kuznetsov are versions of poetic gnosis: they interpret the war as an episode of the eternal conflict of darkness and light, the confrontation of demons with great power, in which an ordinary person is assigned the role of a victim and the poet – the mission of the “messenger”, the painter of these forces. The reasoner-toned concepts of F. Gorenstein and V. Astafyev regard war as a last judgment on peoples, the payment for the fall from God’s grace. I. Boyashov’s novel reveals the Manichaean idea of the dual role of evil: the power of darkness can only be crushed by hatred. Experiencing the ontological power of transcendent knowledge and its suggestions, the artist feels involved in the mystical origin.

Author Biography

Irina Plekhanova

PhD (Philology), Independent Scholar, Irkutsk, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0003-4516-3260


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How to Cite
Plekhanova, I. (2021). The Mysticism of History and the Transcendent Vision of the Great Patriotic War. Quaestio Rossica, 9(2), 591–606.
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