In Search of the Blessed One: Vasily Perov and the Russian Populist Movement
Blessed One (1875-1879) by Vasily Perov (1834-1882) is a striking painting of a peasant man who is both captivating and repellent. But the man portrayed is not just some random vagrant. Rather, he personifies the latest incarnation of the classic Russian character, the Holy Fool. Holy Fools have occupied a unique place in the Russian consciousness since the fourteenth century. All Holy Fools were “fools for the sake of Christ,” submitting to all sorts of physical deprivations in order to promote and advance the will of God. Why did Perov, a founding member of the collective of Russian artists known as the Wanderers, choose a Holy Fool as the subject of his painting? Why did Perov choose to paint a Holy Fool at this time? What does the painting mean?
I argue that an analysis of Perov’s Blessed One is not complete without understanding the socio-cultural and intellectual environment in which it was produced. The freeing of the serfs and growing size and assertiveness of Russia’s young intelligentsia characterized mid- and late nineteenth century Russian society. I will detail why Russia’s young intellectual class became so fixated on an idealized view of the newly free Russian peasantry. Was this obsession based on guilt alone? Or was it based on a passion not only to bring art to the Russian people, but also to represent the Russian people in art? The reemergence of the Holy Fool in both art and literature during this time was no coincidence (examples include Dostoevsky’s Idiot, Surikov’s Boyarina Morozova, Mussorgfsky’s Boris Godunov). In fact, it was directly related to the Russian intelligentsia’s rediscovery of long-neglected aspects of Russian culture after years of Western influence on Russian high society. On the heels of social reform, Russia’s young, urban, educated elite became increasingly interested in “going to the people” of the countryside for creative inspiration.
With the history of Russia and the Holy Fool in mind, I will re-examine Perov’s Blessed One and in the process gain a new perspective and added appreciation for Perov’s subtlety and message.
Milos Forman’s Loves of a Blonde - Dreaming in the Face of Socialism
This paper analyzes Milos Forman’s use of an intimate story of search for love, of seduction and disappointment - to convey the drama of the individual striving toward personal happiness in a socialist society where he/she is denied this fundamental right. He uses the individual to scope and reveal the issues and flaws of an entire society at a specific point in history.
A close reading of key scenes in the film is used to discuss its message and the symbols used to convey it. Although Forman’s camera is very kind to the characters and does not judge any of them, subtle images weave a vivid portrait of socialist Czechoslovakia. For example, the lack of personal space, so poignant throughout the film, illustrates the position of the characters in society and the essence of this society – the cancellation of the individual as an entity and his transformation into a mere economic agent. The protagonists of the film are denied all the joys of youth - from consumer goods, to love, and the chance to create a family, by being constrained to small factory towns where women constitute ninety percent of the population.
In addition, Forman’s technique is analyzed both in the light of its cinematic influences: Italian Neorealism and the French New Wave – influential currents at the time Loves of a Blonde was made, and its importance in shaping the personal style of the director. This film foreshadows the graceful and tender realism with which Forman will introduce his audience to characters apparently common, yet so alive in his future films. These characters almost invariably have to face a society/environment that undermines their rights and aspirations – be it Andula of Loves of a Blonde, Randle McMurphy in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, or Mozart in Amadeus.
Thus Loves of a Blonde sets the stage for the artist Forman would become and stands as a film of great sensitivity and mastery that subtly describes the drama of an individual and the drama of socialist society as a whole.
The Post-Communist Revolution: Peace, Land, Bread … and GDP Growth?
Regime changes across the world have spurred a global debate among both policymakers and academics about the proper role of government; particularly relevant to this discussion is the dispute concerning the relationship between democracy and economic development. The emphasis on growth, however, has engendered a common flaw in transition strategies—growth was often pursued at the expense of true human needs. Today, while controversy surrounding the relationship between economic growth and democracy endures, the important link between human development and democracy has been understudied. This relationship is explored in this paper.
The following study triangulates two sets of methods: 1) an empirical evaluation of all post-communist regimes, including those of the Former Soviet Union, on the extent of democratization, the level of economic growth, and the degree of human development; and 2) a variation-finding comparative examination of Poland and the Czech Republic as two revealing cases that, although often grouped together as success stories of post-communist transition, have quite different forms of democracy. This analysis shows that while a state’s democratic character alone cannot guarantee GDP growth, democracy is a necessary component of overall human development. Moreover, the degree of government responsiveness is significant—only sufficiently representative systems can effectively advance broad developmental goals. This is why, despite better growth levels in Poland, the more responsive government of the Czech Republic achieved a higher degree of human development. Not surprisingly, to this day Czechs exhibit greater public confidence in the core institutions of a liberal capitalist democracy than the Poles.
Thus, the quality of democracy in the Czech Republic is better, and because democracy has both an intrinsic and an instrumental role in promoting human development, the representative democracy of the Czech Republic and their socially conscious policies reinforce each other to successfully meet comprehensive developmental goals.
Forgery of Style in Tolstoy’s Forged Coupon
This paper seeks to explain the ineffectiveness of the moral conversions in Tolstoy’s novella The Forged Coupon by comparing the style in which they are written to Tolstoy’s criteria for good art, as they are laid out in his treatise What Is Art?. It is here proposed that the religious revelations are unconvincing to the reader because they are a rationalistic appeal that runs counter to Tolstoy’s theory of art as infection and, as such, leave the reader untouched and skeptical.
By examining the moral fall and subsequent conversion of each of the twenty-four characters in The Forged Coupon, it is evident that the falls are more realistically portrayed and, as such, more compelling. Yet this runs directly counter to the intention of the story which, as one of Tolstoy’s latest works, is didactic and moralistic. It is proposed that this is because the falls are written in a contemporary, 19th century style, whereas the conversions are written in an archaic, instructional style. The archaic style, having originally been intended as a moral manual to the masses, was meant as an appeal to their reason. However, in his treatise What Is Art?, Tolstoy explains that art is that which infects the audience with the artist’s emotions. By making a rationalistic appeal, Tolstoy goes against this theory and undermines the intention of The Forged Coupon.
This analysis of The Forged Coupon can be used as support Tolstoy’s theory of art and explain why the work leaves readers cold. In a broader sense, it is an indication of the effectiveness of emotional appeals in art.
History through Propaganda in Kalatozov’s Film Sol Svanetii
This paper discusses a number of Soviet propagandistic messages found in Mikhail Kalatozov’s silent film titled Sol Svanetii released in 1930. In an age characterized by new ideology, propaganda was a popular way to disseminate the Soviet Party’s objectives and to gather support for its actions. Each artistic commission, including Kalatozov’s, had an objective, and to discover its often subliminal but ever-present message, I analyzed individual shots and captions of this production. Some of the methods employed in this analysis included the following: the juxtaposition of camera shots, the pace with which those shots are shown, the tone and tempo of musical accompaniment, and the descriptive facial expressions and behavior of the characters. What is the psychological as well as cinematographic significance of these features; why does the director present them in this way and not another? Through this methodology, I concluded that Kalatozov’s work incorporates three of the Party’s major political initiatives of the day: aspects of Stalin’s nationalist policy, the sweeping changes of the new economic order as dictated by the Five-Year Plan, and the complex attitude of the Soviet government toward religion. Further analysis led to a number of intellectual paradoxes that indeed pervaded Soviet society during this time period as well. The film, therefore, is a historical representation of Stalin’s political platform and of the cultural and social attitudes of many citizens of the State. Clearly, the film’s message is to convince the Soviet audience of the dire necessity of progressive governmental policies, and the role that propaganda plays in indoctrinating the nation is paramount to the very success of the regime. The masterful combination of these themes in Sol Svanetii makes this film a representation of a complicated political history and social change in the Soviet Union, and Kalatozov’s technical skill creates a remarkable piece of cinematography.
The Ukrainian Question as Political Capital in the Struggle for Galicia and Volhynia,
This paper seeks to analyze the ways in which the idea of Ukrainian national sovereignty was appropriated and exploited in Western Ukraine by forces vying for power there during the Second World War. It looks specifically at the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and seeks to frame its encounter with the Ukrainian, Polish and Jewish inhabitants of the region. Using Ukrainian integral nationalism as its entry point, the paper briefly sketches a picture of the region as a whole, and examines what possible uses the Ukrainian national idea had in the context of the Ukrainian-Polish Civil War as well as the wider Nazi-Soviet conflict.
The OUN’s every political calculation and tactical alliance was made with the goal of an ethnically homogeneous Ukrainian nation-state in mind. It saw Poland as the greatest threat to a Ukrainian national state, a view that reflected pre-war realities. The OUN’s ties to Nazi Germany early in the war were based on a shared revisionism, but quickly soured when Germany refused to acknowledge the revival of the Ukrainian state proclaimed by UPA activists in 1941. The Soviet Union, which presented an alternative possibility for a Ukrainian nation-state, was consistently viewed by the OUN as an enemy, despite some of its propaganda being couched in national terms.
Broadly speaking, this paper shows that despite the global implications of World War Two, the conflict was perceived in local terms in this region of Eastern Europe. Here the critical dynamic between Ukrainians and Poles was informed more by events leading up to the war than by the progress of the war itself. The succession of occupations greatly complicated this relationship, but the tradition of enmity continued through the war and beyond.
The Peculiarities of Russian Democracy
The Russian Parliamentary elections in late 2003 and the following Presidential election last month may become an indicator of where democracy stands in Russia. The most important question to ask here is why Russia has not been able to uphold a stabile democracy: because it is not endowed with strong, selfless leaders, or because Russian society has not yet developed enough to be ready to support a democracy.
I want to analyze both of the elections and their results, and then conclude what they mean in the context of Russian democracy. International voting groups claimed after the elections that they witnessed many “undemocratic” practices during the elections. Though the incumbent President did not participate in any sort of campaign, the state-run press and media gave Vladimir Putin pages and hours of coverage every day. Meanwhile, his opponents could barely manage to get their faces on national television for at least a few minutes. Presidents of some universities simply refused to grant candidates access to their students, not willing for whatever reasons to aid any candidate whose name was not Putin. In one city the sick could not check into a hospital without first presenting their absentee ballots. In the end, without much surprise, Putin won the election by a large margin. “United Russia,” the party supported by Putin and his allies in the security forces, won the most seats in the new Duma. Another important trend witnessed in the Duma elections, was the strong success of Ultra-nationalist, anti-Western parties: The Liberal Democrats (the name is misleading) and the newly-formed Rodina garnered a large percentage of votes. Meanwhile, the two liberal, pro-Western parties, Yabloko and Union of Right Forces, for the first time did not receive enough votes to get seats in the new Duma.
The results of both of the elections lead me to partially conclude that Russian society is not yet ready to hold up the foundations of a true democracy, and instead they opt for a strong president, without a true regard for democracy, promising to revive the dream of a strong and powerful Russian Empire.
Opera in the Novel: Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary
In this paper, I analyze the role of opera in Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina and Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary. While Tolstoy uses the opera to show the superficiality that characterizes society, and the inability of Anna to conform to that society, Flaubert uses the opera to highlight the innate superficiality of his leading character, Emma Bovary. Both authors use the social arena of the opera to comment differently on the relationship between society and the individual, and the development of the individual, in nineteenth century Europe. Through a close reading of the texts, I determine that, according to Tolstoy, it is impossible for an individual to be true to his/herself within the context of society, because social artifice corrupts all authenticity. In contrast, as he shows through Emma Bovary, Flaubert considers it impossible for an individual to achieve individuality, or a true sense of self, not because of the direct interference of society, but because of the individual’s lack of depth. Though Anna could achieve individuality, and a defined sense of self, if it were not for the limitations imposed upon her by society, Emma’s inability to develop herself, and establish her own identity, is a product of her own weakness as a character. While all of Flaubert’s society is depthless, there is no real conflict between the individual and society in Madame Bovary, because the individual him/herself is just as depthless, if not more so, than the society in which s/he lives.
Music of the Stone: O. Mandelstam’s Early Poetry
By about 1910, Russian literature was at a crossroads: the Symbolists had come to dominate Russian poetry, but were challenged by a younger generation that strove to break away and establish new directions. The Acmeists (from the Greek akme—the highest degree of something, “a time of flowering”) were one such group that sought to use words more objectively, accusing the Symbolists of being too subjective and mystical with words and their meanings. The Acmeists saw themselves primarily as craftsmen, preferring Apollonian architecture (i.e., building poems) to Dionysian music, the epitome of Symbolist poetry. Osip Mandelstam, arguably the greatest Russian poet of the 20th century, left the Symbolists and joined the Acmeist movement in 1912. Stone, his first collection of poems, was received and interpreted as an Acmeist body of work that was architectural, not musical. In this study, a detailed analysis of Stone’s poems attempted to show that in fact music was a key element in this collection. The poems were analyzed formally, and their context and subtext were examined as well in an attempt to identify salient musical elements. Also, relevant details from Mandelstam’s life were presented in support of the argument. As a result, it was found that Stone’s verse is at once musical and songlike. It was concluded that Stone actually represents Mandelstam’s transition from Symbolism to Acmeism. Mandelstam never forgot the Symbolist Paul Verlaine’s exhortation “Music before all!” even as he joined the Acmeists, and this is evident in a number of Stone’s poems. The implication of the paper is that a great poet and his work can never be pigeonholed into a single movement or idea, even if s/he ostensibly identifies with one.
A Prisoner in the Caucasus: Leo Tolstoy’s ‘Good Art’
In 1898, Tolstoy proclaims that A Prisoner in the Caucasus (1872) is one of only two examples of ‘good art’ among his works. This paper presents a stylistic and theoretical analysis of Tolstoy’s short story A Prisoner in the Caucasus (1972) in order to determine why Tolstoy himself crowned it as such. Through the study of Tolstoy’s favorite literary techniques and the interpretation of his thematic reasoning, I come to the conclusion that Tolstoy praises this story due to its complexity and the simplicity with which he presents it.
According to Tolstoy’s own deliberations on art, A Prisoner in the Caucasus is artful because it is an example of ‘universal art’ – an art form that is simple, poignant and emotional enough to be understood by every human being. His adept use of defamiliarization, his focus on name-characterization, as well as his appeal to the basic virtuous inclinations and emotions unite all readers in understanding.
On a deeper level of analysis the short story exhibits religious/spiritual themes that provide insight into the author’s critique of humanity. He comments on the righteous unity of all human beings, the division of that unity according to culture and religion From religious ceremonies to social behavioral patterns, Tolstoy points out the details of cultural conflict that has been plaguing South Central Russia for over a century.
In short, while less than 20 pages-long, A Prisoner in the Caucasus presents a fascinating topic for analysis as a work of Tolstoy on a cultural and artistic level and an ethnographical or political level. Thus, while the author himself praises the story for its simplicity and accessibility, it emerges as quite a complicated work.
For the Love of God: Dichotomy versus Continuum of Religion and Romance in Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Madame Bovary
My paper is devoted to the representation of the Christian God in two French adultery novels. Close readings of Choderlos de Laclos’s Les Liaisons dangereuses and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary reveal that both works associate romance and spirituality as major forces in adultery, and ironically cast the Christian God as an amatory rival. Further analysis indicates that, while in de Laclos’s case God and the seducer are dichotomous, Flaubert creates a continuum where the two are often confused. Emma Bovary’s psyche, which includes a lifelong fixation on a “God-Man” adulterous figure, defines the moral landscape of the novel, producing endemic confusion of love and religion and a loss of reputable identity for both of them. In Les Liaisons, Mme. de Tourvel transfers her devotion from God to the Vicomte de Valmont, but religion itself preserves cohesiveness and dignity due to its bifurcation from sexual love. Both authors portray God as a romantic rival, but He functions differently within the narratives to frame a dichotomy or continuum of love and religion. These findings may advance some understanding of the mechanisms of Flaubert’s subjective moral universe. As I conclude, due in part to the different treatments of God in the narrative, Mme. de Tourvel suffers a moral fall but the dichotomy of love and religion endures, while Emma’s confusion indicts all other inhabitants of the novel’s world.
The Theme of Literary Self-Construction in Alexander Pushkin's Eugene Onegin
In my paper I will examine the theme of literary self-construction in Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. My argument derives from two primary sources. The first is the relationship between Pushkin and his text. In analyzing these sections, I look specifically at passages of the text in which the narrative voice is particularly detached, most notably the closing to chapter one. The second is the constructed nature of the two main characters in the novel, Eugene Onegin and Tatyana. For this part of the argument, I examine in detail the literary aspects of the descriptions of these two characters, particularly those in which Pushkin compares Onegin to a Byronic hero or describes Tatyana as being immersed in her romance novels. Having established that both of these characters base themselves and their lives on literary ideals instead of on interactions with the real world, the next step is to examine the consequences of this choice. Pushkin’s portrayal is undoubtedly negative. I look at Eugene’s rejection of Tatyana, his duel with Lensky and Tatyana’s eventual rejection of Eugene at the conclusion of the text for evidence for the ultimately destructive nature of literary self-construction. I conclude that Pushkin has a negative view of immersing oneself in literature and that, as an author, he struggled to maintain his own identity as separate from that of his narrator.
Deathbed Love: the Final Realization of Love after the Possibility of that Love Has Passed in Eugene Onegin and Madame Bovary
(Mary Gilroy Droesch)
The question that this paper asks is one of motivation. My thesis is that the underlying motivation of adultery, as opposed to any other crime of passion, is not desire, or anger, or revenge, but rather the idea of unattainability. A lover becomes more attractive when no longer emotionally available. In both these works we see how availability drives interest. I examined the asymmetry of both relationships, and located the point of realization for each character. There is an initial stage where there are no obstacles, a separation, a period where the two main characters are apart, and the final realization of the trueness of the first love. Both Onegin and Emma have time to realize the substance in the love that they left behind to follow the more exciting romantic "notion" of love. They have reached a truth about the nature of love, and how sincere love from one person is more significant than having a lot of lovers, but not before fate intervenes to make a reunion impossible. This final realization of truth comes too late. Emma is dying, and so cannot try again at her relationship with Charles. Tatyana is married, and so Eugene cannot make it up to her, even though he realizes that she had been his true love all along. These works suggest that whether the final realization of love is driven by true love or unnatainability does not matter. That is less important than the more final idea that if it takes an impending final and definite separation for the person to realize that they want to be with the other person, then perhaps they do not deserve them.
Love as Pretext: Seduction Rules and Techniques in Dangerous Liaisons
"Your power over me is unimaginable, you control my feelings absolutely." The words of Valmont written to his love, Madame de Tourvel, demonstrate the importance of power in any seduction attempt. In Dangerous Liaisons, the retention of power ultimately means giving it away first. The seducer declares that he is lost without his love and that she is in control of his happiness and his sorrow. Ultimately, seduction is about the power to seem powerless. This presentation, using a close reading of the text, will demonstrate how and why the main characters in Dangerous Liaisons use the feigned loss of power when seducing a would-be-lover and how successful these attempts are.
Pushkin’s Romantic Expression in Eugene Onegin: An Investigation of Love between Eugene and Tatyana
This paper is a study of how, through his novel Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin broadens the expressive capacity of Romantic literature through his juxtaposition of Romantic cliches and realistic situations. How is Pushkin as successful in his portrayal of the love between Tatyana as something unique and authentic, even though he still uses so many of the stereotypes of typical Romantic literature? Through textual analysis, I plan to analyze how Pushkin has elaborated on the literary Romantic ideas of his time. I focus on the love Pushkin depicts between Eugene Onegin and Tatyana, concentrating on a close textual analysis of the two transitional scenes that occur right after first Tatyana and then much later Onegin send each other letters confessing their love and passion for each other. The characters fall in love, yet initially their passions remain unconsummated because of Eugene’s conviction that he could never be faithful to Tatyana. Alone through their experiences in life, the characters mature, yet their love still endures. At the next transition point they again have an opportunity to experience love, but again they are unable to connect, held back this time by Tatyana’s faithfulness to her marriage. Both times they are held back by societal conventions—realities of life—but the one reality that continues to persist is their mutual love. My readings are bolstered by critical work regarding Pushkin himself, Romanticism of the time, and Russia at the time.
Excess and Consequence
Dangerous Liaisons and Madame Bovary are novels about sexual passion. In both novels, sex (or the desire thereof) causes suffering, and suffering is alleviated by death. But the two novels are written nearly a century apart. In my piece, “Excess and Consequence,” I compare the individual death scenes in the two novels. Based on general characterizations of enlightenment and romantic views on passion and rationality, I explain these textual differences as reflections of periods in which the authors write.
The death of the Vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons (1781) is fraught with late eighteenth century French zeitgeist; the scene depicts cold, impassionate rationality. The means of death, the purpose of death, and the character psychology all respond to the enlightenment worldview. Conversely, the death of Emma in Madame Bovary (1857) is passionately irrational: she acts upon emotional whims, loses her mental capacities, and dies for no calculated purpose.
Thus, the surface similarity of the two scenes (and the underlying dissimilarity) draws out the tension between enlightenment and romanticism in the two texts. Dangerous Liaisons uses sex and death – excess and consequence – to react to an exceedingly rational pre-revolutionary France. Madame Bovary uses the same scenario, a similar cause and effect relationship, as a response to an entirely different worldview: one in which rationality is sacrificed to emotion.
The Double Standard in Dangerous Liaisons and Madame Bovary
The presentation examines how Laclos’ Dangerous Liaisons and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary set double standards for men and women in terms of their fulfillment of gender roles. In these novels, male characteristics are defined by power, control, and, above all, rationality. In contrast, female behavior is characterized by excessive emotionality, weakness, and virtue. While women who deviate from gender roles are made to suffer gruesome if not fatal consequences, men are granted flexibility to cross over the gender barrier and suffer no ill consequences for such deviance, as long as the male characters retain their dominant status over their female counterparts.
The analysis is textually based and draws upon examples from two female characters and two male characters who deviate from gender norms in romantic relationships. Laclos’ Marquise de Merteuil and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary both wield the power in their relationships with men and both are made to suffer ill consequences. Laclos’ Valmont and Flaubert’s Rodolphe also deviate from the gender norms by appearing weak and vulnerable in their efforts to seduce women, however the double standard that allows men to cross freely back and forth over the gender barrier permits Rodolphe to live on unscathed throughout the novel. Only Valmont suffers fatal consequences for his behavior, for his facade of weakness turns into reality when he unknowingly allows himself to be manipulated by the Marquise.
Both Laclos’ and Flaubert’s novels, Dangerous Liaisons and Madame Bovary convey the message that unlike women, men are free to play with gender regulations, as long as their games are only facades and in reality they remain in control over the female characters. The existence of this double standard in both Flaubert’s and Laclos’ texts signifies that in at least the late 18th and 19th centuries men and women enjoyed not only different but also unequal standings in society.
Centre and Periphery: Moscow and the Human Rights Movement in the Soviet Union
Studies of the Human Rights movement in the Soviet Union have quite understandably focused on a small group of Moscow intellectuals. With the benefits of connections established at Moscow State University and in the kompanii, groups were able to emerge that took advantage of the capital’s superior facilities and access to the eyes and ears of the West. Over time, these dissenters broadened their mandate from the right to publish dissenting work free from the fear of arrest, to an all encompassing mission for the protection of human rights and freedom in the Soviet Union and beyond. Their claim to speak for the fundamental rights of mankind was compromised by their status as a small group of isolated intellectuals. However, dissenting groups and individuals were organizing and agitating outside of the capital. Over time, Muscovites were able to communicate with human rights agitators on the peripheries of the Soviet Union, while encompassing a number of quite specific grievances in a broader human rights program. However, it is erroneous to conceive of a cohesive national movement with a central headquarters in Moscow. Fundamental differences in goals, methods and values, combined with state repression proved to be insurmountable obstacles. At best, they formed a network of loosely linked but essentially autonomous groups and individuals, unified briefly by common causes but without a shared long term strategy or ideological platform.
The evidence used in this paper includes statistical data such as the constitution of petitions, details of trials and the content of samizdat, most notably the Chronicle of Current Events which include listings of contemporary causes and issues. This will be combined with more subjective memoirs and interviews which relate the experiences of individual dissenters.
Flirting with Danger: The Loss of the Enlightenment Dream in Laclos’ Les Liaisons Dangeruese
In Choderlos de Laclos’s Enlightenment epistolary text, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont attempt to understand pleasure in the realm of the mind and ultimately perfect their art of seduction through rationalist means. The two play mind games, or power games to seduce and debilitate (emasculate?) the other, and flirt between emotional indulgence and austere self-discipline. In their letter exchange, there is a constant debate on the biological nature and societal function of the female sex, and the two converses on this topic through the discourse of their own seduction techniques. They both objectify the female gender and achieve their goals through seemingly misogynistic methods, Valmont’s being an exploitive one and the Marquise’s objectifying of her own self and betraying her sex due to the loss of hope in womanhood. However, what bestow the two successes, rationalistic thinking and oversimplification of the female sex, is also what destroys them. This ultimately lead to their tragic fates at the end of the novel: death and social ostracism.
A Moral Lesson in Anna Karenina: Tolstoy's Beliefs on Identity Construction
My paper focuses on identity construction in Anna Karenina, specifically addressing Tolstoy's views on the proper and improper methods for one to create one's own concept of self. Within the novel, Anna and Levin are constantly juxtaposed to each other, and I use Levin as Tolstoy's example of how one ought
to create one's identity to determine why Anna's method proves to be destructive and harmful. The key differences between the two are that whereas Levin is patient, constantly doubting and testing his beliefs, Anna is rather impetuous, often assuming that anything she argues in favor of or desires for herself is correct. As Levin's experience proves beneficial and Anna's ends in her destruction, Tolstoy clearly expresses his belief as to which approach is right and which is wrong. With Levin as his example, Tolstoy shows the virtue of being humble and skeptical, and with Anna he illustrates the folly of
accepting any belief to hastily and believing too strongly in one's own reasoning. Moreover, Anna also demonstrates the impossibility of finding wholeness, and Levin's experience illustrates the necessity of accepting partial solutions to the difficult problems of life.
Are the Peasant Children to Learn from Us as Tolstoy’s “Bible” of Art: Analyzing Tolstoy According to The Great Code”
In this essay, I will attempt to prove that in Tolstoy’s piece, Are the Peasant Children to learn from us? the author is writing a Bible of how to appreciate and create “good” literature. Tolstoy spent a good deal of time trying to create a definition of art’s quality and function and in his work on teaching the peasant children he indicates that they are better writers than even Tolstoy himself. What is unique about his story is that it is not a treatise on art but seemingly an anecdotal tale. One might even see that it is an anecdotal tale similar to those told in the Old Testament. The argument for Tolstoy’s piece as a Bible becomes stronger when we look at the study of typology; the theory that events in the Old Testament – types – are meant to be realized as higher evolved incidences – anti-types – in the New Testament. Using the typological analysis presented in Northrop Frye’s book, The Great Code, I will show that the same literary methods used to interpret the relation between the Old and New Testaments can be applied to Tolstoy’s piece. Through such analysis, we can reconstruct what he hoped his audience would take from his writing. It is through typological analysis that we can understand that Tolstoy’s work is a historical account, like the Old Testament, that must be realized by anyone who wants to produce good art on a higher level. A “Biblical” analysis of Tolstoy’s works also opens questions about the author’s view of himself as the God of his own text; he recorded what he perceived to be truths in hope that they would evolve to a more mystical level. Just as Judaism was a beginning for Christianity, Tolstoy envisioned art evolving in a similar way. I prove this by closely following Frye’s description of typology and demonstrating that Tolstoy’s tale exhibits many parallels to aspects of the Bible.
Doppelganger and Interpretations of Madness
I intend to do an analysis of madness in Dostoevsky's The Double. This paper will discuss the effects of social conventions, setting, and self-image in the appearance of the double as a manifestation of madness. In support of my analysis, I plan to use examples from other works of Russian literature as well as The Double, A Psychoanalytic Study, by Otto Rank. I will tie in other works of Russian literature that address the topic of madness and the appearances of a double. I will explore instances in The Double that illustrate the main character’s disgust with himself and his life. Then I will analyze his escape from this reality through the appearance of and his subsequent obsession with his double. The role of social conventions in Russian literature addressing madness, as apparent in Gogol's Diary, is vital to the idea that a double is a manifestation of madness. Also, St. Petersburg as a setting for mad tales is common in many works depicting madness. The shadow/double represents Truth in the work by Esenin, called The Man in Black, and I would like to include that in order to tie in with the desire to escape reality through denial of truth and hatred of the double instead of the self. Madness is an overarching theme in Russian literature that has been touched on by almost every major author. The presence of madness in The Double is touched on by Otto Rank, who uses a psychological interpretation of the main character and searches for the causes of the double’s appearance within the mind of the main character. The Double by Dostoevsky ultimately captures many Russian themes in one work while also raising questions about the presence and detection of madness in Russian society.