Futurism Revisited

Nicholas Rzhevsky, State University of New York, Stony Brook

Recent scholarship and revisitations of Futurism and the cultural period that nourished it suggest an ongoing reappraisal of its texts and directions. (Two notable examples are Victor Erlich’s monograph and the recent compilation Russkij Futurizm. Teoriia. Praktika. Kritika. Vospominanija, edited by V. N. Terexina and A. P. Zimenkov. Moscow: Nasledie, 1999.) Indeed, in the light of postmodern trends, Russian culture in the first twenty years of the past century offers trenchant lessons. Such issues as the conjunctions of literature and politics, attempts to do away with logocentricity or with writing in general, and denials of the self’s roles in culture and history are our legacy of those years, even as their historical fulfillments in Russian space and time are sometimes forgotten in the onrush of the exciting subversions they offer. In the following paper, I (1) reconsider some of these major trends, particularly in the light of Mystery-Bouffe; (2) use the advantages of retrospect to note their dilemmas; and (3) draw some conclusions with regard to current cultural issues.