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Art after Philosophy

Boris Pasternak's Early Prose

Elena Glazov-Corrigan

Publication Year: 2013

Art after Philosophy: Boris Pasternak’s Early Prose, by Elena Glazov-Corrigan, redefines an area in Slavic studies which has suffered from neglect for several decades, namely, Pasternak’s early prose narratives. In her bold new study, Glazov-Corrigan analyzes the conceptual networks of thought Pasternak developed when he turned to literature after abandoning the study of Neo-Kantianism in Marburg during the summer of 1912. This book shows conclusively that Pasternak’s knowledge of philosophy is inseparable from his prose works, even though in his early stories and novellas (1913–1918) philosophical ideas operate neither as discrete textual units nor as micro-elements or clusters of possible signification. In the early Pasternak, philosophy becomes a narrative art, a large-scale narrative frame, a manner of seeing rather than of constructing reality. After Roman Jakobson’s famous 1935 essay, which characterized the early Pasternak as a “virtuoso of metonymy,” in contrast to the metaphoric Mayakovsky, no other approach has been able to generate comparable scholarly influence. The present study takes up the implicit challenge of this critical impasse. Entering into a debate with Jakobson’s findings, Art after Philosophy illuminates Pasternak’s boldest artistic experiments and suggests to his readers entirely new ways of approaching not only his early but also his later writing.

Published by: The Ohio State University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-ix


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pp. x-xi

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pp. xii-xv

It is said that it takes a village to bring up a child. This particular book has had so many aunts and uncles that to count would not be simple. I’ll start from my adolescence—Moscow of the late 1960s, a decade after Pasternak’s death. ...

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pp. 1-11

The principal aim of this book is to expand and redefine an area in Slavic Studies that has, quite inexplicably, suffered from critical neglect for at least a quarter of a century—the innovative art of Boris Pasternak’s early prose, interdisciplinary to its core. Completed by the end of 1918, only three of these early fictional works—“The Mark of Apelles,” “Letters from Tula,” and The Childhood of Luvers—found a publisher. These narratives represent, however, a much more extensive corpus ...

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1. The Character of Philosophical Influence in Pasternak's Early Prose

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pp. 12-37

Mikhail Bakhtin, who never traveled to Marburg, spoke of Hermann Cohen as a formidable force in his own formation: “this was an extraordinary philosopher, who simply had an enormous influence on me, an enormous influence” (Duvakin et al., 1996, 36). No such sentiment or any other clear-cut evaluation of Hermann Cohen was ever expressed by ...

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2. Similarity and Contiguity in Pasternak's Early Poetics and Their Philosophical Underpinnings

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pp. 38-70

In Safe Conduct, Pasternak presents a rather curious list of the philosophers who occupied his thoughts during his university studies in Moscow and Marburg: “Along with some of my acquaintances I had connections with ‘Musaget.’ From others I learned of the existence of Marburg. ...

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3. Arguing with the Sun in "The Mark of Apelles"

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pp. 71-112

In Pasternak’s writing, the gift of poetry is either identified with or permeated by an energy force that lifts the world from gloom and darkness and fills it, as it were, with fresh air. Both Tsvetaeva and Mandelstam in their portraits of Pasternak attest to this refreshing dynamism in his poetic world, Tsvetaeva by comparing it to pouring rain filled with sunlight [световой ливень] and Mandelstam by noting that Pasternak’s poetry could become an ...

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4. "Letters from Tula": "Was ist Apperzeption?"

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pp. 113-157

A strange fate befell Pasternak’s “Letters from Tula.” Among his critics the story provokes a silence almost as profound1 as its protagonist’s apprehension of the “complete physical silence within his soul”: “Not an Ibsen silence, but an acoustic one” [в душе настанет полная физическая тишина. Не ибсеновская, а акустическая] (CSP 123; PSS 3:30; emphasis in original). This critical reaction, reminiscent of the equally taciturn reception of “The ...

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5. Contextualizing the Intellectual Aims of 1918: From "Letters from Tula" to The Childhood of Luvers

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pp. 158-197

The year 1918 proved to be a highly significant one in Pasternak’s creative life. His collection of poetry Over the Barriers [Поверх барьеров] was published in 1917; My Sister Life [Сестра моя жизнь], finally published in 1922, was subtitled “Summer of the Year 1917,” which “indicated when most of its poems were written” (Barnes 1989, 228). “Letters from Tula” was completed in April 1918; by the summer of 1918 the manuscript of what is ...

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6. "The Long Days" in The Childhood of Luvers: Chronology of a Permeable Self

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pp. 198-232

The analysis of “The Long Days” (Part I of Detstvo Luvers) will pursue several interconnected aims. Its principal goal is to emphasize the novella’s overall design, which has hitherto escaped critical notice. The Kantian notion of a posteriori and a priori ranges of perceptions will be approached as fundamental to the organization of the novella: the analysis will explore how the ...

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7. "The Stranger" in The Childhood of Luvers: Disruptions in Chronology and the Collision with Other Worlds

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pp. 233-295

Although The Childhood of Luvers is by far the best-known prose work of Pasternak’s early period, critics (with some notable exceptions) concentrate on the overriding importance of the metonymic series in the earlier parts of the narrative, approaching these as prototypical of Pasternak’s early style.1 However, in his letter to Sergei Bobrov of 16 July, 19182 (the only surviving letter of this period that discusses ...

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8. Conclusion: Pasternak's Symbolic World: Prose and Philosophy

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pp. 296-326

Pasternak did not like his early style and rarely spoke about the influence of philosophy upon his thought. For the last three years of his life, he was openly distressed when his publishers in the West, in order to capture the interest of the market after the success of Doctor Zhivago, proceeded to seek out, translate, and publish his early prose. ...


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pp. 327-341


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pp. 342-344

General Index

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pp. 345-348

Back Cover

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p. 366-366

E-ISBN-13: 9780814270059
E-ISBN-10: 0814270050
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814212066
Print-ISBN-10: 0814212069

Page Count: 408
Illustrations: 8 tables
Publication Year: 2013