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Russian Authors Say Literature Refutes Time and Space

Published: April 29, 2014 (Issue # 1807)



  • Author Zakhar Prilepin, right, with opposition politician Eduard Limonov.
    Photo: Dmitry Rozhkov / CC BY-SA 3.0

As the 2014 U.K.–Russia Year of Culture gets into full swing, a wide array of events in London are allowing locals to become better acquainted with Russian art, theater and literature. At a recent discussion titled "In Search of the Essence of the Modern Russian Novel," Russian authors Zakhar Prilepin and Yevgeny Vodolazkin discussed the essence of the modern Russian novel.

The choice of this particular pair of authors seemed to promise an interesting debate, given their striking differences. While both men are prize-winning Russian novelists, Prilepin is known to be a highly political figure and member of opposition politician Eduard Limonov's National Bolshevik Party. Vodolazkin, on the other hand, generally avoids public life and focuses on philosophical, esoteric novels.

The debate began with relative agreement between the pair, as Vodolazkin agreed with Prilepin's statement defining the purpose of the modern Russian novel as "moving away from traditional norms in order to solve the main issues of humanity such as evil, militarism and xenophobia." Vodolazkin similarly noted that the essence of the modern Russian novel lies in "not being afraid of pathos, grand gestures or metaphysics." Both authors agreed that this was a far cry from the literary decline of the 1990s, when Russian writers generally avoided grand metaphysical issues.

While agreeing on the essence of the modern Russian novel, Prilepin and Vodolazkin expressed different approaches to producing the modern Russian novel based on their political views. Vodolazkin said that he was "anti-political," and suggested that the disadvantage of utopia was that "everyone is treated the same," and that the "collective approach is horrific," as everyone is made to strive for the same ideals. Vodolazkin's best-known novel, "Laurus," is a reflection of his views, representing the personal growth and struggle of one individual in ancient Russia.

Conversely, Prilepin's views are "nearest to contemporary times — the times of revolutions, state-wide destruction and political turmoil." This line of thought is reproduced in Prilepin's work — the author feels that "civil war is never over." Prilepin's nationalistic utopian ideals are for him based on the fact that "Russia is about emotions and huge problems." These large schemes are present in all Prilepin's books like "Sanka," which predicted the Euromaidan movement in Ukraine or "Pathologies," a book about the war in Chechnya.

However, despite surface disagreements, the authors agreed that on a wider scale, all authors focus on the same universal themes, both in modern Russian literature and worldwide. According to Prilepin, "there is no history." Universal values like "love, goodwill and compassion" will always exist, and "real literature shows that there is no time or space."





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBA’s newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is “Handmade in Germany,” an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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