The Presence of the Past in Contemporary Russian Prose Fiction:A Comparative Reading of Guzel’ Iakhina and Sergei Lebedev
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonZeitschrift für Slawistik. 2022, 67 (2), 171-196. https://doi.org/10.1515/slaw-2022-0008
This article studies the poetics of historical reimagination in works by Guzel’ Iakhina and Sergei Lebedev, two contemporary Russian prose writers. The main tendencies in Russian official history politics and memory culture of the last decade form the backdrop for the study. I illustrate these tendencies by a case study analysis of the representation of Stalinist repressions in the history park Rossiia — moia istoriia (Russia — My History). The comparative reading of Iakhina’s and Lebedev’s novels seeks to determine the key poetic features of the two authors’ fictional treatment of the past, also assessing to what degree, and how, these treatments challenge, promote, or negotiate current official history politics and memory culture. The analysis discusses the two authors’ shared concerns but also reveals fundamental differences in their poetics. Whereas Iakhina’s fictional universe has distinct boundaries that confine the story to the time and space where it takes place, Lebedev’s novels deal with the past from the perspective of today. The contrasting narrative perspectives have implications for how the past is represented — or made present — and how the reader is drawn into the narrative.