Between Parody and Pastiche: The Posthuman Biomechanics of Bulgakov’s Novellas
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonScando-Slavica. 2020, 66 (2), 264-280. https://doi.org/10.1080/00806765.2020.1832913
The article examines the birth of biomechanics in Soviet scientific discourses and how it was absorbed by the theater and literature of the day, in a reading of Michail Bulgakov’s three novellas “D′javoljada” (1924), “Rokovye jajca” (1924) and “Sobač′e serdce” (1925), interpreting them as both products of and critical reactions to the transformational trends in early Soviet ideology. While artists and theorists like Aleksej Gastev worked to ensure the creation of the New Man by reshaping the human animal into an industrious mechanical man of steel, Bulgakov actively opposed such ideas. In his fiction, he exhibits a dialogical and contentious relationship to biomechanics. This reading argues that the novellas are paradoxically dependent on notions of mechanization and hybridity, aligning them with features of posthumanism, at the expense of Bulgakov’s satirical attacks on Vsevolod Mejerchol′d and his theatrical biomechanics. The noisy soundscapes, metal tropes and mechanical motifs that shape the novellas, at times distract from Bulgakov’s parodic affect and nurture instances of pastiche, making his early short prose indebted to none other than his avant-garde adversaries of the 1920s.
Under embargo until: 2022-05-20