The Demise of the Dyatlov Group in Literary Mythology and Art: From Heroisation to Profanation of the Tragedy

Keywords: Soviet myth, literary myth, mass culture, Dyatlov group


This article reviews the artistic adaptation of the tragedy which took place in the North Ural Mountains in 1959 involving the demise of Igor Dyatlov’s group of hikers. The author refers to eight works of art, including novels, stories, TV shows, and films, released between 1966 and 2020. This study is relevant as it reflects the need to analyse the reaction of art to a landmark event. No earlier attempts to analyse the works of art in question have been made. The author argues that Dyatlov’s Pass is acquiring the status of a myth in artistic culture. The analysis is conducted chronologically in accordance with the release of the works of art. Without exception and for every text, the author analyses the content of the version of the tragedy and the peculiarity of its representation to reveal the work’s aspiration to credibility and the message that seeks to create a perceptional response from the audience. The author reveals genre, content, and perception tendencies in the adaptation of the Ural myth. The way in which a work of art represents the event depends on the needs of the audience at a particular time in history. The author maintains that all the adaptations are meant for a mass audience. She also reconstructs the history of the function of the Dyatlov myth in popular literature over half a century. It is concluded that the artistic versions of the Dyatlov plot replace each other in accordance with a certain logic. Thus the interpretation that is tragic and heroising and claims to be authentic is replaced by its opposite, i. e., one that is de-heroising. This in turn is replaced by the tragic concept of the doom of the human being in the face of irresistible forces, both natural and man-made: such is followed by ironic meta-reflection and commercial trash that turns tragedy into farce. At the current moment, the artistic development of this plot has a tragic heroic interpretation. It is proved that the logic of the changing trends of processing of the Ural myth is determined by the needs of a particular moment. In the 1960s, mass culture was driven by the goal of neutralising social tension in the face of the inexplicable. In the early 2000s, this culture was driven by expressing a fear of military and technological disasters and the strange manifestations of traumatised psyches. In the 2010s, the main factors behind mass culture were distrust in governments and intelligence agencies, as well as fear of the inexplicable mysteries of the universe: this has become, among other things, the basis of outright commercial speculation. The beginning of the new decade is once again marked by an attempt to calm public consciousness by means of a natural version that moves away from the conspiracy and man-made versions.

Author Biography

Olga Turysheva

Dr. Hab. (Philology), Professor, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin.

19, Mira Str., 620002, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0002-3014-6153


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How to Cite
Turysheva, O. (2022). The Demise of the Dyatlov Group in Literary Mythology and Art: From Heroisation to Profanation of the Tragedy. Quaestio Rossica, 10(2), 612–628.
Problema voluminis