Литературная критика -
Репрезентация творчества Александра Грина в СССР
With the coming of the Thaw period, the Fantastic genre in the USSR was re-established. However, it concerned only the science fiction genre, which to a great extent served as an instrument of ideological propaganda of Positivistic and Marxist theories. Fantasy genre remained an ideological enemy throughout the whole Soviet era (up to the late 1980s), because it contained unexplained events, magic, and, finally, mysticism. This fatal blame stopped the development of the whole group of non-Realistic and neo-Romantic genres in Russian literature.
Grin’s works could not be classified as science fiction. Therefore, the genre of his works crossed the margin of ideologically defined genres in Soviet literature. At the same time, his imaginary country “Grinlandia” put Grin’s stories and novels inside the area of non-Realistic literature, and became a subject of prolonged and vigorous discussions among the Soviet critics. In public libraries and, therefore, in the minds of the mass Soviet audience Grin’s works were positioned in the marginal area of “children’s” literature. This definition (“children’s literature”, literatura dlia detey) allowed the avoidance of some troublesome ideological questions regarding the style and philosophical outlook of Grin’s works.
The second part of the thesis is entitled “Representation of Grin’s image in Soviet fiction: Grin as a fictional character”. It is devoted to the phenomenon of Grin’s representation in Soviet fiction, which has never been investigated either by Western, or by Soviet researchers. I view this problem in the context of Stalinist model of “synthetic hero” , introduced by Peter Kenez who applied this term to the main characters of the films-“biographies” of the late Stalin’s era. I will apply this term using a wider context of a famous Soviet literary epic “The Lives of Outstanding People” (“Zhizn’ zamechatel’nykh ludey”), which was started by a founder of Socialist Realism Maxim Gorky in 1934. Viewing Grin’s fictional personality as an example of a “positive hero” (Clark) or “synthetic hero” (Kenez) allows one to trace the development of Soviet myths about Grin throughout the whole Soviet era.
Through the coherent analysis of three Soviet novels (introducing Alexander Grin as a protagonist), I explore the phenomenon of the transformation of both the personal and socio-cultural attitudes to Grin. The fictional works are viewed in chronological order: The Black Sea by Konstantin Paustovsky (Chernoe more, 1935), The Wizard from Gel’-Giu by Leonid Borisov (Volshebnik iz Gel’-Giu, 1944) and The Lord of Chances by Valentin Zorin (Povelitel’ sluchaynostey, 1977-79). They are organized accordingly into the chapters 4, 5 and 6. Texts are viewed from several different perspectives: (1) on the personal or “micro-level” (biographical elements; possible reasons for choosing Grin as a protagonist; personal perception of Grin’s works and personality, etc.); (2) the textual or “medium” level; (3) the time or “macro-level” (the time of the writing and publishing; political epoch and its specific paradigms).
The third part of the thesis concentrates entirely on the Cinematic representation of Grin’s works on the Soviet screen. Until I undertook this current research, this topic also has been “terra incognita” for both Russian and Western specialists in Literary and Film studies. Despite the wide popularity of Alexander Grin in Soviet society, the phenomenon of film-versions of his works did not become a focus of any academic or popular work. Nevertheless, this topic offers excellent research opportunities and represents a fascinating academic subject.
This part consists of five chapters, organized in accordance with the chronological order of five film-versions: Scarlet Sails (Alye parusa, dir. Ptushko, 1961), She Who Runs the Waves (Begushchaya po volnam, dir. Lubimov, 1967), Shining World (Blistayushchiy mir, dir. Mansurov, 1984), The Golden Chain (Zolotaya Tsep’, dir. Muratov, 1986), Mister Designer (Gospodin oformitel’, dir. Teptsov, 1986). In a short introduction to this part, I briefly touch upon the general theory of Soviet cinema and the phenomenon of Soviet cinematisation of literature. Then I move to explanation of the main theoretical framework that will be applied throughout the next five chapters. Especial attention is paid to the concepts of Peter Kenez , Stephen Hutchings  and Josephine Woll  on Soviet cinema and culture.
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The major principle of the third part of the thesis (“Cinematic representation of Alexander Grin in Soviet cinema”) can be described by the words of Maya Turovskaya: each film is approached as a phenomenon of “sculpted time” (zapechatlennoe vremia) . Besides exploration of the ever-questionable film-book relationships (which are also scrutinized in this part), I view each film in its socio-cultural context. Therefore, all screen-versions of Grin’s works are investigated as (1) a result of interaction between Grin’s original literary text, Grin’s philosophical concept, and an artistic/ideological concept of the Soviet film-makers; (2) a result of the influence of cultural paradigms of a certain political epoch on the perception of the film-makers; (3) as “success” or “failure” according to audience reaction of that time, and what factors might have influenced audience reception.
In the conclusion I discuss the possibility and necessity of further research of Grin’s representation and reception in contemporary Russia and post-Soviet countries. The role of cultural myths of the Soviet era and their influence on contemporary culture appears to be underestimated. The study of Grin’s case offers a unique opportunity to investigate how the old ideological myths are occupying the minds of younger generations nowadays. A variety of contemporary cultural events such as stage performances, new fictional and documentary works, and the Web-site “Grinlandia” created by the young Russians are clearly showing the unfading interest in Grin’s works and personality. He is still a “cult figure” for Russian society, but it remains to be investigated to what extent his contemporary image (and the image of his fiction) is influenced by the old models of the Soviet era.