Writing as Exorcism
The Personal Codes of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Gogol
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: Northwestern University Press
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Introduction: Reading the Extra
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Sometimes it takes a poet to read a poet. In this inspired, idiosyncratic study, Ilya Kutik offers exemplary interpretations of three Russian writers, of the lessons of fatalism, and of the complexities of reading. Interestingly enough, though Kutik focuses on literary texts, examines them almost atomistically, and discovers important but missed intertextual references ...
Chapter One: Exorcism and “the Extra” in the Text
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In 1973, the movie The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin, became part of the American horror film classic tradition. In the film, a priest, played by Ingmar Bergman’s famous actor Max von Sydow, fights the Devil (who has moved into a young girl’s body) with the magic of special incantations, that is, with the power of words. The Devil fights back, forcing the girl to fly ...
Chapter Two: Two Superstitious Men
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In all of Russian culture one could probably not find anyone as openly superstitious as Alexander Pushkin. The same can be said of many of his characters: heroes and heroines read fortune-telling books, see prophetic dreams, and are full of forebodings. Of course, the issue of superstitions and prophesying, divination, and prejudices was one of the most popular in...
Chapter Three: Gogol’s Nausea and Nossea
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Nikolai Gogol was an oddball, an eccentric, a strange man, in both his life and his literary art. The strangeness of his literary work—its novelty of language, its pre-Surrealist Surrealism—has been discussed and recorded by many critics, who exercised their wit in explicating it. In addition, some insightful investigations, especially those of Vikenty Veresaev in Russia and of Vladimir Nabokov and Simon Karlinsky ...
Chapter Four: Rome before Rome
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Nikolai Gogol’s exorcism is rich in variations. Mostly, as has been shown in the previous chapter, through writing, he was attempting to neutralize his worst fears—in particular the fear of losing his mind—and thus to prevent his “demons” from coming true. In this chapter I will try to unveil one more Gogolian exorcism, one that can be called an exorcism ...
Conclusion: Musings on Modifications of Exorcism
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I have used examples drawn from the work of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Gogol to illustrate that what I call a psychological dominant of an author of this type—a prose writer with a transcendent poetic mentality—can be traced by using two things simultaneously: the author’s texts and the author’s life. In other words, it can be found at the crossroads of intertextuality ...
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Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2005
Series Title: Studies in Russian Literature and Theory
Series Editor Byline: Saul Morson