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Title:The Feminine Eros as the motive force of Russian history: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s intertextual dialogue with Marina Tsvetaeva
Author(s):Arkatova, Anna Yevgenyevna
Director of Research:Tempest, Richard V
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Tempest, Richard V
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Cooper, David; Pintar, Judith; Urmanov, Aleksandr; Klimoff, Alexis
Department / Program:Slavic Languages & Literature
Discipline:Slavic Languages & Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Feminine Eros
Abstract:This dissertation focuses on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s historicized poetics of femininity, that is, his representation of women from a diversity of social classes and demographic groups, in specific oppressive or traumatic historical contexts, and the literary strategies he employs to that end. In Solzhenitsyn, World War I, the Russian revolution of 1917, and the Stalinist tyranny of the 1930s-1950s are treated as catastrophes not only for the country as a whole or particular social and cultural strata, but more specifically, for women in a variety of life and personal situations. Solzhenitsyn’s female characters invariably face a political and social environment that impels them to self-identify as survivors, victims, witnesses, or resisters, and in some cases even victors over the forces of historical chaos. The project focuses on the manner in which Solzhenitsyn’s narratives, most of which depict revolutionary collapse or state terror, cataclysmic events that take place in the public realm, configure the Feminine Eros, that is, the agglomeration of romantic, sexual, and family-related drives and behaviors, as represented in works of verse and prose, that constitutes part of a woman’s core identity and manifests itself in both the private and public sphere through her relationships, behaviors, and communication practices. The dissertation demonstrates how the various manifestations of the Feminine Eros function as textual and conceptual elements in Solzhenitsyn’s highly influential reconsideration of Russian history; and reconceptualizes the feminine characters and themes in his novels, stories, and historical/polemical writings by demonstrating their many connections on the level of themes, imagery, and formal devices to the poetry of the Russian Silver Age (1910–1923) and, especially, to the verse of the lyrical modernist poet Marina Tsvetaeva (poems dating from 1910–1923). As in the case of Solzhenitsyn’s narratives, in Tsvetaeva’s productions, the poetic subject’s erotic longings and her desire for fulfillment as a wife, lover, and mother are brutally thwarted by the events of the Russian revolution, civil war and ensuing decades of oppression. The tragic female experience in history, which was poeticized by Tsvetaeva as the events of the 1917-1922 unfolded, continued to escalate and took yet more extreme and traumatic forms in the period of Stalinist terror, as recorded in Solzhenitsyn’s texts and the memoirs of female survivors of the gulag.
Issue Date:2015-07-07
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Anna Arkatova
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201

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