Volume 68 Number 4 Abstracts

Remembering “The Terrorism”: Sergei Stepniak-Kravchinskii’s Underground Russia

Lynn Ellen Patyk

How was terrorism first remembered when it surged up from the Russian underground in the third quarter of the nineteenth century? In this article, Lynn Ellen Patyk argues that memory is indispensible to terrorism and that historians’ attribution of the “invention of modern terrorism” to Russian revolutionaries in the mid-nineteenth century is as much a testament to these revolutionaries’ mnemonic savvy as to their tactical innovation. The revolutionary-litterateur Sergei Stepniak-Kravchinskii (1852-1895) was at the avant-garde of this innovation, and this article analyzes his mastery of the implicit mnemonics of the terrorist deed and then of its literary commemoration in Underground Russia: Revolutionary Profiles and Sketches from Life (1882). Stepniak-Kravchinskii uses historical narrative to perform essential plot revisions and linguistic reclamations (for example, of the word Nihilist) and employs the device of “personal recollections” to authenticate and lend emotional and sensual immediacy to his representation of “the Terrorism” and its place of origin, Underground Russia.

Catherine’s Retinue: Old Age, Fashion, and Historicism in the Nineteenth Century

Luba Golburt

Beside her political and cultural legacy, Catherine II bequeathed to the nineteenth century a certain striking image of the body and spirit of the eighteenth: an aging aristocratic lady, inflexible in her behavioral routines and visibly unaware of historical change. This image was codified by Aleksandr Pushkin in The Queen of Spades and, much later, satirized by Ivan Turgenev in several of his novels. Highlighting the recurrence of these copies of Catherine the Great in nineteenth-century Russian prose, Luba Golburt interprets the narrative and historical implications of fashion and aging in this period that was fascinated with historical knowledge and imagination. The persistence of the past embodied by these figures posed a challenge to the otherwise widely embraced Hegelian notions of progress, underscoring the repetitive and ritualistic rhythms of historical experience. These figures also extended the realist narrative’s historical scope and made possible a range of polyphonous temporal structures.

The Birth of Memory and the Memory of Birth: Daniil Kharms and Lev Tolstoi on Infantile Amnesia

Sara Pankenier

Through the juxtaposition of early autobiographical fragments by Lev Tolstoi and Daniil Kharms, Sara Pankenier argues that both writers similarly push beyond the limits of memory to recover the infant self from the abyss of infantile amnesia. Their accounts of preternatural memory and precocious self-awareness counter the phenomenon, which psychologists now term infantile amnesia, whereby the onset of memory occurs only several years after birth. They thus flagrantly violate human experience, as well as the literary conventions that otherwise govern the representation of infancy. By endowing the infant self with adult memory-and narrative voice-these writers create a hybrid autobiographical self that unites the divided autobiographical subject posited by Philippe Lejeune. Despite the differences in their tragic and comic tone, both Tolstoi and Kharms employ the infant subject to explore issues of power and voice through narrative experimentation in an uncharted region of memory otherwise made inaccessible by infantile amnesia.

Laughter, Music, and Memory at the Moment of Danger: Tsvetaeva’s Mother and Music in Light of Modernist Memory Practices

Monika Greenleaf

In this article, Monika Greenleaf shows how Marina Tsvetaeva protested the erasure of her generation’s intimate and embodied styles of memory by postrevolutionary historical narrative. While Soviet writers began to disappear into the Lubianka, labor camps, translation programs, children’s literature, and silence in the 1930s, exiled writers found themselves in European capitals contesting the keys to legitimate memory before the emigration’s fractured milieux de mémoire. In a piece written for oral performance in Paris, Tsvetaeva uses Bergson’s famous techniques of bodily and musical memory-retrieval and comic revelation of temporal rhythms and archetypes to frame her childhood memoir as an exemplary mimetic rite for her generation. Bergson’s synergistic theory of “matter and memory” promised total recall, whereas Walter Benjamin’s meditation on the different nature of memories that “flash up at the moment of danger” offers new insight into the fiercely selective comic scenes her mnemonic technique “produces.” Greenleaf’s examination poses the question: What is the nature of the past that involuntarily repeats itself through our bodies and the very configuration of our imaginations: living Being or copying machine? Is the poet’s act of memory socially useful or dangerous and “mad”? Mimesis according to Aristotle or Plato?

The Divisive Modern Russian Tourist Abroad: Representations of Self and Other in the Early Reform Era

Susan Layton

Taking methodological cues primarily from James Buzard’s book The Beaten Track (1993), Susan Layton examines the socially divisive construction of the Russian tourist abroad in mainstream writings published in Russia between 1856 and 1863. It was during this early reform era that Russians first began publicly worrying about turisty and turizm as components of their national culture. The prism of divisiveness complicates a scholarly tendency to interpret the production of imperial Russian travel narratives as a nation-building enterprise from the eighteenth century onward. Although nationalist sentiments persisted in early reform public discourse concerning leisure travel, writers also fissured the nation along lines of social estate, gender, education, cultural competence, and moral values. Layton’s comparative approach establishes parallels between snobbish nineteenth-century English and Russian views of ill-prepared “crowds” of tourists abroad but underlines Russian convictions that all Russian travel to western Europe should pursue educational and moral benefits.

Nurture Is Nature: Lev Gumilev and the Ecology of Ethnicity

Mark Bassin

In this article, Mark Bassin explores Lev Gumilev’s theory of ethnicity. Developing his ideas in the context of post-Stalinist debates about the relationship of society to the natural world, Gumilev maintained that the etnos was a wholly natural, quasi-biological entity. Although this naturalism involved an important genetic dimension, Gumilev denied that ethnicity was determined by race and emphasized instead its ecological quality as an organic part of biogeocenoses or natural-landscape ecosystems. Although he remained marginalized in his day by the Soviet ethnographic establishment, his essentialist perspective is powerfully appealing for post-Soviet audiences, who find his “ecology of ethnicity” singularly useful for the purposes of ethnopolitical discourse.

Toward Heterotopia: The Case of Trans-Atlantyk

George Gasyna

In August 1939, the Polish avant-garde writer and playwright Witold Gombrowicz left Poland for what was to be a month-long literary tour of South America. World War II broke out a week after Gombrowicz’s arrival in Argentina, and he was never to return to Poland; instead he remained in Buenos Aires, where he would live for the next quarter of a century. In this essay George Gasyna argues that Gombrowicz overcame whatever nostalgic longings he may have felt for the homeland he had left behind-by an “accident” of world history-through articulating a new type of poetics, which Gasyna terms a “heterotopic imagination.” Employing a key term used by Michel Foucault in his archaeologizing of western cultural knowledge, Gasyna theorizes heterotopia both as a desire to articulate the existential condition of deterritorialization in the spaces between mainstream literary and cultural discourses, and as a kind of textual sanctuary from the world. Within the zone of heterotopia, Gasyna argues, an author’s exilic imagination may transform the nonplace of language into a linguistic refuge, a home-in-language. In his reading of Gombrowicz’s second and perhaps most outrageous novel, Trans-Atlantyk, Gasyna demonstrates that despite its overt stylistic deviation and blatant political provocations, the novel is primarily concerned with elaborating an exilic space of hope for an autonomous subject-in this case the deracinated author who chose to divest himself of the political pressures of being a Polish émigré in wartime and the Cold War era, in order to become “merely a human being.”

The Epoch of Magna: Capitalist Brands and Postsocialist Revolutions in Georgia

Paul Manning

In this article, Paul Manning explores the metaphoric and metonymic valuations of western brands as symbols of revolutionary change during the recent Rose Revolution and especially during the transition of the early 1990s in Georgia. Using an ethnographic reading of a Georgian novel about the early 1990s, The Dogs of Paliashvili Street by Aka Morchiladze, Manning examines in detail how a single ubiquitous western brand of cigarettes, Magna-often deployed in opposition to local socialist brands like Kolkheti (“brand totemism”)-came to stand metaphorically as a “meta-symbol” for the period of the transition in Georgia as a whole, “the Epoch of Magna.” At the same time, the new capitalist conditions of consumption and the proliferation of western brands of cigarettes made differences between brands into metonymic resources for indexing emergent forms of social differentiation and transformed certain brands, like Marlboro, into indexes of the general collapse of public urban order after socialism (“brand fetishism”).