Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences
of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The Journal of Literary History and Theory
Peer-reviewed Academic Journal

WHAT HAPPENED TO ALLEGORY? Two Histories and Five Meanings of Allegory

Sobolev D.M.


This essay addresses the causes of the decline of interest in the problem of allegory, as a relatively general theoretical problem, despite the allegorical character of a considerable part of the twentieth century prose and poetry, and in spite of the presence of allegorical qualities in a significant part of the post-war popular culture. It both describes and analyzes several meanings habitually ascribed to allegory, as well as the complex interaction between these meanings. The essay aims to clarify these causes in the hopes that their better understanding will make it possible to reassess of the entire question of allegorical representation and will enable the emergence of a new, more comprehensive and empirically adequate, theory of allegory. As a first step towards such theory, the essay proposes the definition of allegory as complex correlation between a specific phenomenological modality and its literary textualizations.


allegory; literary theory; representation; conceptualization; phenomenology; Walter Benjamin; Paul de Man; Angus Fletcher.

For citation

Sobolev D.M. What Happened to Allegory? Two Histories and Five Meanings of Allegory. Literaturovedcheskii zhurnal, no.2(52), 2021, pp. 157–185. DOI:10.31249/litzhur/2021.52.08

DOI: DOI:10.31249/litzhur/2021.52.08

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