From Imperial to Soviet Power: Interpretation of Zabolotsky’s Creative Quest in the Ararat Collection
Keywords:poetry by N. Zabolotsky, V. Zhukovsky, creative influence, artistic consciousness, handwritten collection of poems Ararat
This article examines the role of Zhukovsky, a nineteenth-century ballad author, in Zabolotsky’s creative consciousness. Among the biographical facts and writings of the twentieth-century poet that reveal his constant interest in the canonic figure of his predecessor, the author pays special attention to Zhukovsky’s Ballad (1927) that has a metaliterary title. Zabolotsky included this work which looks like a riddle in the composition of Ararat, his handwritten book, and therefore is considered by the author of the article in the context of this collection. The paper aims to overcome the semantic opacity of Zhukovsky’s Ballad and to determine its place and functions in the structure of the Ararat poetic cycle. Methodologically, the analysis is based on historical poetics, which implies, on the one hand, the identification of a genre basis relevant to both Zhukovsky and Zabolotsky, and on the other hand – the transformations that the ballad underwent in the context of a “new worldview and new art”. Another theoretical reference point is B. M. Gasparov’s Poetics of the Tale of Igor’s Campaign dedicated to the interpretation of the opaque text and based on the analysis of its linguistic and genre-stylistic features. The main sources in this research are the manuscript of Zhukovsky’s Ballad as well as the cover of Ararat with drawings by the writer, and the other poems of the collection. The main result lies in the reconstruction of the cyclical plot implying the unity of all the poems of the collection through the prism of their motifs and imagery, which, in turn, revisits the biblical story of the Flood. The author analyses intertextual connections within the book and specifies their functions. In the first part of Ararat, Zhukovsky’s Ballad which completed the collection was the most conflictual work within a triad of texts dedicated to the end of the old tsarist and imperial way of life. Based on the clarified symmetrical composition of the cycle, in its second half, the author discovers the poem Movement mirroring Zhukovsky’s Ballad. Instead of the tsar in the ballad, there appears a cabman sitting “as if on the throne” as a representative of the new “proletarian” authorities. In the place of a drowned man who lived in the “round village,” the reader now sees a “poor horse” as the driving force of modernity. Thus, Zabolotsky captures the change of the social and everyday life paradigms, bringing the heroes of a new era to the fore.
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