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Russian Authors Say Literature Refutes Time and Space

Published: April 29, 2014 (Issue # 1807)



  • Author Zakhar Prilepin, right, with opposition politician Eduard Limonov.
    Photo: Dmitry Rozhkov / CC BY-SA 3.0

As the 2014 U.K.–Russia Year of Culture gets into full swing, a wide array of events in London are allowing locals to become better acquainted with Russian art, theater and literature. At a recent discussion titled "In Search of the Essence of the Modern Russian Novel," Russian authors Zakhar Prilepin and Yevgeny Vodolazkin discussed the essence of the modern Russian novel.

The choice of this particular pair of authors seemed to promise an interesting debate, given their striking differences. While both men are prize-winning Russian novelists, Prilepin is known to be a highly political figure and member of opposition politician Eduard Limonov's National Bolshevik Party. Vodolazkin, on the other hand, generally avoids public life and focuses on philosophical, esoteric novels.

The debate began with relative agreement between the pair, as Vodolazkin agreed with Prilepin's statement defining the purpose of the modern Russian novel as "moving away from traditional norms in order to solve the main issues of humanity such as evil, militarism and xenophobia." Vodolazkin similarly noted that the essence of the modern Russian novel lies in "not being afraid of pathos, grand gestures or metaphysics." Both authors agreed that this was a far cry from the literary decline of the 1990s, when Russian writers generally avoided grand metaphysical issues.

While agreeing on the essence of the modern Russian novel, Prilepin and Vodolazkin expressed different approaches to producing the modern Russian novel based on their political views. Vodolazkin said that he was "anti-political," and suggested that the disadvantage of utopia was that "everyone is treated the same," and that the "collective approach is horrific," as everyone is made to strive for the same ideals. Vodolazkin's best-known novel, "Laurus," is a reflection of his views, representing the personal growth and struggle of one individual in ancient Russia.

Conversely, Prilepin's views are "nearest to contemporary times — the times of revolutions, state-wide destruction and political turmoil." This line of thought is reproduced in Prilepin's work — the author feels that "civil war is never over." Prilepin's nationalistic utopian ideals are for him based on the fact that "Russia is about emotions and huge problems." These large schemes are present in all Prilepin's books like "Sanka," which predicted the Euromaidan movement in Ukraine or "Pathologies," a book about the war in Chechnya.

However, despite surface disagreements, the authors agreed that on a wider scale, all authors focus on the same universal themes, both in modern Russian literature and worldwide. According to Prilepin, "there is no history." Universal values like "love, goodwill and compassion" will always exist, and "real literature shows that there is no time or space."





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Oct. 30


Dental-Expo St. Petersburg 2014 concludes today at Lenexpo. Welcoming specialists from throughout the federation, the forum is an opportunity for dentists to share tricks of the trade and peruse the most recent innovations in technology and equipment, with over 100 companies hocking their wares at the event.



Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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