№ 1, 2022
Literature and Dictatorship: Culture of the Beginning of the 20th Century in Search of Ideal Power (Essay)
The end of the 19th — beginning of the 20th century is a watershed moment for Russia. It was the era of “theomachy”, or getting rid of the former gods (authorities, restrictions, coercion and control), in politics, economy, science and culture. In this sense, the motto “Down with the autocracy!” is the political equivalent of the poets’ slogan “Throw Pushkin off the ship of Modernity”. Poets, like politicians, wanted to break out of the past by removing its linchpin — the tsar, the old power. Some intended to reestablish it, others — to rethink it. Politicians sought their ideal in “geography” (the political structure of advanced, democratic Europe), poets — in culture. And they found it in Peter the Great — the revolutionary on the throne, the demiurge of St Petersburg’s Russia. That cult, which was seemingly organic for that culture, concealed the expectations that can be politically deciphered as “the dictatorship of development”. It was Peter’s model of transformation (radical upheaval, a step from the past into the future, with the leader heading the process) that was adopted by the Russian culture as a normative. The revolution and the new (“October”) world, with its eulogy of the future, dictatorship, and cult of the leader, have become the answer to the questions of the beginning of the century and their test.
The article views revolution precisely as an experience (which, for all its intensity and tragic nature, has received insufficient reflection) that failed to
Main Page ~ Authors ~ I. I.Glebova