Intertextuality as a Means of Depicting Post-Soviet Reality

Vera Aginsky, Iowa State University

As noted by Renate Lachmann in her book Memory and Literature: Intertextuality in Russian Modernism, intertextuality establishes itself in the tension between decomposition and recomposition (338). Decomposition, according to Lachmann, is deconceptualization. "Decomposition means questioning the conception of totality, and seeing its components in the unfavorable light of their combination--moving or putting them (back) into the sphere of decision and doubt." (332) Intertextual research helps to achieve a better and deeper understanding of the text involved. Intertextuality is an interesting aspect of contemporary Russian literature. In this paper I will do an intertextual analysis of some literary works by Boris Akunin, Victor Pelevin and Vladimir Tuchkov. Several generations of Soviet/Russian children were brought up on the immortal values of the stories for children, written by Lev Tolstoj. The children were taught to be polite and respectful to their parents, to study and work hard. Pjataja Kniga dlja Chtenija by Tuchkov also consists of small stories, which remind us Tolstoj's stories, having similar titles and names of characters, but completely subverting the moral values he taught children. The main lesson the children get from Tuchkov's stories is how to make more dollars, to become rich; the means of achieving those goals are really not important.

"Pogib pot, nevol'nik chesti..." Everybody knows those lines of M. Lermontov's poem on the death of Pushkin. "Nevol'nik Chesti" is the title of a story of B. Akunin in his collection Skazki dlja Idiotov. The main character of the story, Ippolit Vjazemskij, who is a host of an absolutely inappropriate TV show is also "nevol'nik chesti," but in an absolutely different way. Another story of interest from the collection Skazki dlja Idiotov by Akunin is "Vostok i Zapad." It goes back to Pushkin's "Xadzhi Murat," thus the readers get a better understanding that the Chechen issues are far from being new ones.

Of great interest is the story "Devjatyj son Very Pavlovny" by V. Pelevin, going back to the novel Chto delat' by Chernyshevskij. The work of Pelevin gives a very satirical and cruel criticism of the changes, taking place in post-Soviet Russia, which can never make Russia a developed capitalist state, the same as the utopian ideas of Chernyshevskij's novel. No answer has been found yet to this eternal question "Chto delat'?"

Intertextuality, memory and double coding are the three central points in the interpretation of some contemporary Russian writings.