"Making It Familiar": An Intertextual Analysis of Vladimir Maksimov's Novel Proshchanie iz niotkuda

Lisa R. Taylor, University of Georgia

This paper will examine the use of intertextuality as a framing device in Vladimir Maksimov's novel Proshchanie iz niotkuda. Within a theoretical framework based on the work of Roland Barthes, Julia Kristeva, and Viktor Shklovskij, the use of intertex tual references will be examined as a means of familiarizing readers with and orienting them inside a text that may otherwise be alien, or as a way of making what would otherwise be strictly national experiences of exclusion and emigration universally comprehensible and accessible.

Proshchanie iz niotkuda is a semi-autobiographical novel about an author, poet, and playwright who begins life on the fringes of Soviet society during World War II. The hero, Vlad Samsonov (Samsonov was Maksimov's real last name) survives arrest, juvenile detention facilities, labor camps, mental hospitals, alcoholism and homelessness, but is never able to fully realize his creative goals in the Soviet Union and finally immigrates to France.

Superficially, it may seem that Proshchanie iz niotkuda is similar to other Soviet and Russian autobiographical novels, particularly Gor'kij's semi-autobiographical trilogy (Detstvo, V ljudjax, Moi universitety). However, there are important differences, which this paper will identify as a prelude to intertextual analysis.

What may at first to be random quotations appearing throughout Proshchanie iz niotkuda actually form the novel's complex framework. These intertextual references include direct and embedded quotations from the Bible, world literature, and Russian literature, poetry, folklore, and popular culture. They are structured to provide a context and framework for understanding and interpreting events within the novel by likening them to other national and international experiences. This paper will examine and analyze the use of intertextual references as a means of "familiarizing" Maksimov's unique experiences of exclusion from society and emigration, thus making them meaningful for all readers, not only those who lived in the former Soviet Union.

The need for a new analysis of Proshchanie iz niotkuda is evident from the dearth of international scholarship concerning it. The intertextual approach offers a new way to understand Proshchanie iz niotkuda, a complex, carefully structured work that has long been challenging for international readers to fully comprehend. This novel, unique in its scope and viewpoint, certainly merits a fresh analysis and interpretation in order to be made accessible to a wider audience than it has enjoyed thus far.