BETWEEN THE CYNIC AND THE TRICKSTER: TOLSTOY’S SURVIVAL STRATEGY IN THE 1930S
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Abstract: The article focuses on self-mythmaking of A. N. Tolstoy in the 1930s. Self-mythmaking is interpreted in the article as a series of ways to create one’s own myth, significantly different from the real biography of the man of literature. Unlike symbolists’ life-creating practices, it has a pragmatic purpose – to gain a foothold in the field of literature – and does not purport to wage a theurgical reconstruction of the world. In analyzing this phenomenon, attention is focused on the discursive and behavioral gestures of the writer. The main characteristic feature of Tolstoy’s self-mythmaking in the 1930s was the simultaneous use of two contradicting lines of conduct – those of the trickster and of the cynic. When using this dichotomy, the author of the article relied on the concept of the Soviet trickster, introduced by M. N. Lipovetskiy and based on the philosophical constructions of P. Sloterdayke. The main difference between them is in goal setting: for the cynic, the main goal is to achieve material and symbolic benefits; in trickster’s, self-mythmaking pragmatics is reduced, and survival within the Soviet system acquires the features of performance aimed at undermining authoritative discourse. While building his personal myth, A. N. Tolstoy combines the above mentioned strategies: on the one hand, he consciously uses the acquired authority of the Soviet classic to achieve material benefits and to legitimize Stalin’s political course (this becomes salient, in particular, in the articles on “the case of Trotskyists”), and on the other – he ridicules official power rituals (public repentance) and authoritative discourse, sometimes virtually quoting the behavior of popular trickster characters. Such use of polar behavioral gestures significantly complicates the reception of Tolstoy's self-mythmaking for both the writer’s contemporaries and of the modern researchers of A. N. Tolstoy.
Key words: SELF-MYTHMAKING; RUSSIAN LITERATURE; RUSSIAN WRITERS; CYNICS; CYNICISM; TRICKSTERS
Chekushin, V. V. Between the Cynic and the Trickster: Tolstoy’s Survival Strategy in the 1930s / V. V. Chekushin . In Philological Class. 2019. №4 (58). P. 101-108. DOI 10.26170/FK19-04-13.