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Title: 'Post-Soviet neo-modernism' : an approach to 'postmodernism' and humour in the post-Soviet Russian fiction of Vladimir Sorokin, Vladimir Tuchkov and Aleksandr Khurgin
Author: Dreyer, Nicolas D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 7597
Awarding Body: University of St Andrews
Current Institution: University of St Andrews
Date of Award: 2011
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The present work analyses the fiction of the post-Soviet Russian writers, Vladimir Sorokin, Vladimir Tuchkov and Aleksandr Khurgin against the background of the notion of post-Soviet Russian postmodernism. In doing so, it investigates the usefulness and accuracy of this very notion, proposing that of ‘post-Soviet neo-modernism’ instead. Common critical approaches to post-Soviet Russian literature as being postmodern are questioned through an examination of the concept of postmodernism in its interrelated historical, social, and philosophical dimensions, and of its utility and adequacy in the Russian cultural context. In addition, it is proposed that the humorous and grotesque nature of certain post-Soviet works can be viewed as a creatively critical engagement with both the past, i.e. Soviet ideology, and the present, the socially tumultuous post-Soviet years. Russian modernism, while sharing typologically and literary-historically a number of key characteristics with Western modernism, was particularly motivated by a turning to the cultural repository of Russia’s past, and a metaphysical yearning for universal meaning transcending the perceived fragmentation of the tangible modern world. Continuing the older Russian tradition of resisting rationalism, and impressed by the sense of realist aesthetics failing the writer in the task of representing a world that eluded rational comprehension, modernists tended to subordinate artistic concerns to their esoteric convictions. Without appreciation of this spiritual dimension, semantic intention in Russian modernist fiction may escape a reader used to the conventions of realist fiction. It is suggested that contemporary Russian fiction as embodied in certain works by Sorokin, Tuchkov and Khurgin, while stylistically exhibiting a number of features commonly regarded as postmodern, such as parody, pastiche, playfulness, carnivalisation, the grotesque, intertextuality and self-consciousness, seems to resume modernism’s tendency to seek meaning and value for human existence in the transcendent realm, as well as in the cultural, in particular literary, treasures of the past. The closeness of such segments of post-Soviet fiction and modernism in this regard is, it is argued, ultimately contrary to the spirit of postmodernism and its relativistic and particularistic worldview. Hence the suggested conceptualisation of post-Soviet Russian fiction as ‘neo-modernist’.
Supervisor: Keys, Roger Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Post-Soviet Russian literature ; Postmodernism ; Post-Soviet neo-modernism ; Post-Soviet humour ; Vladimir Sorokin ; Vladimir Tuchkov ; Aleksandr Khurgin ; Post-Soviet Russian fiction ; Russian postmodernism ; "Blue fat" ("Goluboe salo") ; Post-Soviet satire ; Post-Soviet use of skaz ; Russian modernism ; Post-Soviet grotesque ; Tat'iana Tolstaia ("Kys'") ; Post-Soviet Russian writers ; Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung ; Coming to terms with the Soviet past ; Russian conceptualism ; The Russian absurd ; Literary deconstruction and parody of Soviet history ; Russian fiction--20th century--History and criticism ; Russian fiction--21st century--History and criticism ; Sorokin, Vladimir, 1955- --Criticism and interpretation ; Tuchkov, Vladimir--Criticism and interpretation ; Khurgin, Aleksandr--Criticism and interpretation ; Modernism (Literature)--Russia (Federation) ; Postmodernism (Literature)--Russia (Federation) ; Humor in literature ; PG3098.4D8