Metaphoric Complexity and Intertextual Play in Sokolov’s Škola dlja durakov

In my paper I would like to examine the fragmented and disjointed tale embedded in Škola dlja durakov that tells the story of Arkadij Arkad′evič Akatov, and to discuss how this seemingly peripheral account forms an important thematic layer in Sokolov’s metaphorically saturated text.

In depicting the Akatov character, Sokolov seems to draw on several very different sources: Gogol′, his Akakij Akakievič (“Šinel′”), and the figure of Niko Tinbergen, the Nobel Prize-winning zoologist/entomologist (1973). I will begin my discussion with the Tinbergen reference (R13/E19) which briefly summarizes Tinbergen’s work and, as noted by D. B. Johnson, is a paraphrase of a not particularly illuminating passage in Tinbergen’s book the Curious Naturalists. I will examine the underlying associative links that connect Akatov, Gogol′, and Tinbergen/Trachtenberg and attempt to show that Tinbergen/Trachtenberg and Akatov are part of a nexus of metaphors that foreground verbal art and the story of the writer in the Soviet Union of the time.