The Mystery of Lexical Coincidences in the Works of Yuri Tynianov and Osip Mandelstam

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The essay explores lexical coincidences in the works of Yuri Tynianov and Osip Mandelshtam — coincidences which appeared in different time periods, independently of each other.
In the second half of the 1920s, Tynianov wrote the novel Death of the Vazir-Mukhtar which, while dealing with events of the 1820s, anticipated the soon-tobe disappearance of free artistic speech.
Ten years later, Tynianov's anticipation became a reality — reflected in Mandelstam's poem “Lamarck”. Freedom of creative activity did not disappear completely but became, in many respects, a thing of the past. Even if the hope for the return of free expression still existed, no one imagined when this event would take place. Loyalty to the regime and assentation were the signs of the times. Studies of Soviet artistic life in that period reveal the extreme degree of the unnatural selection aimed at creating unwavering servants of the regime. One of such servants wrote: “In today's situation, genius and villainy are two compatible things: the killing of a Mozart may assist history”.
Such “assistance to history” became a Soviet norm and, according to independent Russian émigré observers, led to a situation in which Soviet literature lost the position within world literature obtained by the Russian classical literature of the 19th century and acquired unmistakably provincial traits. As Shigalev declared in Dostoyevsky's Demons, “All are slaves and equal in their slavery”.
Analogous processes were taking place in cinema, where pro-regime servilism — due to cinema's ability to influence the audience more rapidly and more powerfully than literature — acquired its most dangerous form. This was fully understood by the Bolshevik regime which held cinema in high regard. “Creating art? No, doing what you were told to do”, — this was how Soviet filmmaker Leonid Trauberg later described those times.

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Milydon Valery

Доктор филологических наук, профессор кафедры эстетики, истории и теории культуры ВГИК

Федеральное государственное бюджетное образовательное учреждение высшего образования "Всероссийский государственный институт кинематографии имени С.А.Герасимова" (ВГИК)
, 129226 Москва, ул. Вильгельма Пика, д.3

Author for correspondence.


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