Post-Soviet Literature and the Search for a Russian Identity by Boris Noordenbos

By Boris Noordenbos

This ebook examines a variety of modern Russian writers whose paintings, after the loss of life of Communism, grew to become extra authoritative in debates on Russia’s personality, future, and position on this planet. certain in his in-depth research of either playful postmodernist authors and fanatical nationalist writers, Noordenbos can pay cognizance not to in simple terms the intense social and political implications of latest Russian literature but in addition literary shape by means of documenting the decline of postmodern kinds, examining moving metaphors for a “Russian identification crisis,” and tracing the emergence of recent kinds of authorial ethos. to accomplish this finish, the e-book builds on theories of postcoloniality, trauma, and conspiracy considering, and makes those examine fields productively on hand for post-Soviet studies.

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Ensō is depicted in Japanese Zen art as a brushed black circle, symbolizing enlightenment, perfection (though these circles are often imperfect), or the spiritual world, but also the void (Yoshiko 33; 186). More importantly even, the concept of the black bagel is an arresting metaphor for the circular narrative structure of the novel. 4 The same publisher explains that the aim of the author was to record his “mechanical cycles of consciousness” (Pelevin, Buddha’s ix; emphasis added). In fact, the plot of Buddha’s Little Finger—looping around a black hole, an unspoken, evacuated traumatic history that forms its invisible center of gravity—mimics the symptoms of trauma.

THE BLACK HOLES OF HISTORY: NARRATIVES OF CULTURAL TRAUMA 43 Having read (with us) Pet’ka’s manuscript, Chapaev immediately critiques Pet’ka’s direct address of the reader as a pretentious device: This apostrophe to a reader who does not really exist is a rather cheap trick. Even if we assume that someone other than myself might possibly wade through this incomprehensible narrative, then I can assure you that he won’t give a single moment’s thought to the self-evident fact of his own existence.

Khapaeva proposes that the “trauma of the Gulag” (84) indirectly announces itself in popular Russian films and novels, with their ample images of vampires, witches, and werewolves, sometimes modeled after Chekists or KGB agents. Monsters in these works have elbowed out the humans, and “objective,” linear time is often replaced with a nightmarish temporality that allows characters to move freely among historical periods. Khapaeva acknowledges that many of these “monstrous” features are part of a global fantasy culture in the tradition of the gothic novel (with its proto-Romantic disillusionment in the power of human rationality).

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