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Russian myth and the Communist Utopia (novel M N in the context of creativity Zamyatin)

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[In Russia after 'Perestroika' Zamiatin's We was often published in collections with Huxley and Orwell's novels, all of them banned in the Soviet period and generically related as anti-utopian. Though thus situated in the broad context of world literature, We remains unexplained in Russian literary tradition where Zamiatin's work belongs to the line of Gogol, Leskov, Remizov, i.e. those prose writers who were steeped in the Russian myth and whose verbal richness and variety of colloquial tone called forth a special critical term – skaz. How could it be that one of them wrote a novel about the future separated from Russian roots and in a language unified to the point of obliteration? In his earlier stories Zamiatin explored traditional life as he knew it from his own experience (A Provincial Tale, A Godforsaken Hole); even then he preferred not to describe but to distort reality, to make it speak up for itself. In Alatyr' Zamiatin made a decisive step towards a new manner when he challenged the Russian myth with a utopian dream of the bright and universally happy future. We came out as another experiment in mass consciousness, but this time inspired by the writer's response to the new revolutionary reality., In Russia after 'Perestroika' Zamiatin's We was often published in collections with Huxley and Orwell's novels, all of them banned in the Soviet period and generically related as anti-utopian. Though thus situated in the broad context of world literature, We remains unexplained in Russian literary tradition where Zamiatin's work belongs to the line of Gogol, Leskov, Remizov, i.e. those prose writers who were steeped in the Russian myth and whose verbal richness and variety of colloquial tone called forth a special critical term – skaz. How could it be that one of them wrote a novel about the future separated from Russian roots and in a language unified to the point of obliteration? In his earlier stories Zamiatin explored traditional life as he knew it from his own experience (A Provincial Tale, A Godforsaken Hole); even then he preferred not to describe but to distort reality, to make it speak up for itself. In Alatyr' Zamiatin made a decisive step towards a new manner when he challenged the Russian myth with a utopian dream of the bright and universally happy future. We came out as another experiment in mass consciousness, but this time inspired by the writer's response to the new revolutionary reality.]

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/content/journals/10.1163/221023911x567597
2011-09-01
2016-09-26

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