Gnostic Elements in Sologub's Tvorimaia Legenda

Eleonora Magomedova, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Feodor Sologub's Tvorimaja Legenda is a text with many allusions to the theme of gnosticism. Although these linkages have been noted by different analysts (O. Ronen, L. Szilá;rd, and others), there has been no systematic textual analysis of Sologub's uses of gnostic elements in his novel, which is the goal of this pr esentation.

The main issues of gnosticism that are relevant for tracing Sologub's creation are: (1) the characteristic separation in Gnostic theology of the main Deity (verxovnoe bozhestvo) and the creator of the world (Demiurg), who are depicted in eternal struggle with each other for the human soul.

(2) The gnostic worship of the biblical Serpent for bringing them knowlegde of good and evil, of the nature of the world. They believed in the rites of passage, through which the ultimate knowledge can be reached, through second or third birth (e.g., Sologub's "tixie deti", and the main character Trirodov).

(3) for gnostics it was knowledge, not the faith, that was of highest priority (i.e., the faith is inferior to gnosis).

In Tvorimaja legenda, I will analyze the scene of the encounter of Trirodov and count Davidov (the incarnation of Christ), which is demonstrably the meeting between the Christian and Gnostic world views. I will discuss three main characters of the novel--Trirodov, Elisaveta, and Queen Ortruda. Sologub presents Trirodov as a person with supernatural abilities implying that he had undergone the highest degree of initiation into the gnostic world. Queen Ortruda's Lucifer-worship can be explained ithrough the gnostic belief in the Serpent of Knowlegde. (In the main Gnostic text known today, Pistis Sophia, the serpent plays the very important role of Satan). In the rejection by Trirodov and Elisaveta of blind belief in the fathers of the Christian church one could see gnostic priority of knowledge over belief.

Tvorimaja legenda is a demonstration of the gnostic attitude towards Christianity. The recipe for Christian salvation is the denial of human body, whereas in gnosticism, like in alchemy, the body is celebrated. Gnosis is dealing with the extreme feelings of body and spirit - mystical extasy, orgies, in which the pleasure of the body is a process of moving towards knowledge. In the novel it is expressed in the so-called "amorality" of the gnostics, in meetings between Trirodov and Alkina, in feelings of Afra towards Ortruda and Filippo Meccio, and in Ortruda's behavior when she realized that her husband was not faithful to her.