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

“A TERRIFYING MOVEMENT”: RETHINKING THE IMAGE OF THE BIRD-LIKE TROIKA IN RUSSIAN LITERATURE AND CRITICISM

Dushenko K.V.

Konstantin V. Dushenko, PhD in History, Senior Researcher, Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Nakhimovsky Avenue, 51/21, 117418, Moscow, Russia. ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7708-1505

Abstract

The lyrical digression of Gogol’s poem “Dead Souls” about the Bird-like Troika is one of the two central metaphors of Russia and the paths of Russian history, along with the image of Pushkin’s Bronze Horseman. However, the ambiguity of this image remained for a long time on the periphery of public consciousness. The frightening, demonic overtones of Gogol’s work in general and the fragment about the Bird-like Troika in particular were brought to the fore by the thinkers of the Russian Silver Age (D. Merezhkovsky, E. Trubetskoy). Against the backdrop of the revolutionary upheavals of 1905–1907 Gogol’s metaphor was no longer read as a dithyramb, but as a formidable mystical prophecy. Since the late 1930s the Bird-like Troika becomes the part of official Soviet culture, and the polemics with Gogol’s image was, in essence, a polemic with its official-patriotic interpretation. Lyrical digressions of the 11th chapter of “Dead Souls” became the subject of special consideration only at the end of the 20th century. In particular, M. Weiskopf placed them in the ideological context of the era, and M. Epstein compared it with the witchcraft, “witch” motifs of Gogol’s earlier works.

Keywords

literary prophecies; ambivalent images; Russian historiosophy; Nikolai Gogol; Dmitry Merezhkovsky.

Recieved

20.02.2024

Accepted

10.03.2024

For citation

Dushenko, K.V. “‘A terrifying movement’: Rethinking the Image of the Bird-like Troika in Russian Literature and Criticism”. Litera- turovedcheskii zhurnal, no. 2(64), 2024, pp. 136–156. (In Russ.)

DOI: 10.31249/litzhur/2024.64.07

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