Eddie's Guide to New York City

Alexei Pavlenko, Colorado College

By the end of the twentieth century, New York City has become a recognizable topos in the artistic space, xudozhestvennoe prostranstvo (Baxtin, Lotman), of Russian literature. Limonov's It's Me, Eddie and Diary of a Loser build on and significantly extend this topos. On one hand, Limonov's hero finds himself in the familiar landscape created by Korolenko, Gor'kij, Majakovskij, and Il'f and Petrov. Theirs has become the officially sanctioned representation of New York City--the locus of human alienation, of all-powerful avarice, and of the triumph of technology over the human spirit. On the other hand, Limonov goes beyond the received models and explores new aspects of the city's space that in turn shape Eddie's narrative. Manhattan's grid of streets and avenues, its alleys, hotels, office buildings, shops, restaurants, and parking lots constitute the matrix for Eddie's new identity. Eddie's efforts to recover meaning in his own existence is concurrent with his growing ease--and pleasure--in navigating the city's streets. Eddie's assimilation of the foreign space of the city is shaped by his discoveries within. Limonov enriches the Russian topos of New York City by refashioning it as a place of regeneration.

Note: As part of my presentation, I will offer a guided tour through Eddie's New York.