Still a rather obscure figure in the wider context of Russian modernism, Konstantin Vaginov (1899-1934) was an eclectic writer who belonged to the Russian avanguardist nebula. To be more precise, he was a member of the Oberiu movement, that is the “Union of Real Art or the Association for Real Art”, active between the 1920s and 1930s. All his works show his preoccupation with several historical events that changed the world, such as the First World War and, most importantly, the Russian Civil War. Vaginov saw these upheavals as inevitable yet ambivalent apocalypses for Russian traditions. The writer manifested his antagonism towards this situation by developing a particular poetics linked to a cult of the past. His beautiful images of an idealized, Hellenic Petersburg form a deep contrast with the ugliness of the Soviet, post-war Leningrad, creating a Utopian alternative to reality. On the basis of these preliminary assumptions, the article analyses Vaginov’s production, and in particular his first and last novels (The Goat Song, Козлиная песнь, 1928 and Harpagoniana, Гарпагониана, 1934), in order to compare the writer’s utopian depictions of the cityscape with realistic ones, keeping a special eye on the role played by collections in the construction of an alternative solution to reality. Notably, a comparison of the latter text with Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) and Tommaso Campanella’s The City of the Sun (La città del sole, 1602) demonstrates the function of collections as utopian islands, which preserve the memory of a recent, yet unattainable past.

“A Retreat From Everyday Soviet Life. Konstantin Vaginov’s Utopian Visions”

MARCHESINI, IRINA
2015

Abstract

Still a rather obscure figure in the wider context of Russian modernism, Konstantin Vaginov (1899-1934) was an eclectic writer who belonged to the Russian avanguardist nebula. To be more precise, he was a member of the Oberiu movement, that is the “Union of Real Art or the Association for Real Art”, active between the 1920s and 1930s. All his works show his preoccupation with several historical events that changed the world, such as the First World War and, most importantly, the Russian Civil War. Vaginov saw these upheavals as inevitable yet ambivalent apocalypses for Russian traditions. The writer manifested his antagonism towards this situation by developing a particular poetics linked to a cult of the past. His beautiful images of an idealized, Hellenic Petersburg form a deep contrast with the ugliness of the Soviet, post-war Leningrad, creating a Utopian alternative to reality. On the basis of these preliminary assumptions, the article analyses Vaginov’s production, and in particular his first and last novels (The Goat Song, Козлиная песнь, 1928 and Harpagoniana, Гарпагониана, 1934), in order to compare the writer’s utopian depictions of the cityscape with realistic ones, keeping a special eye on the role played by collections in the construction of an alternative solution to reality. Notably, a comparison of the latter text with Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) and Tommaso Campanella’s The City of the Sun (La città del sole, 1602) demonstrates the function of collections as utopian islands, which preserve the memory of a recent, yet unattainable past.
2015
Utopia: the Avant- Garde, Modernism And (Im)Possible Life
275
287
Marchesini, Irina
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/555649
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