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Reading Gogol΄ in Azeri: Parodic Genealogies and the Revolutionary Geopoetics of 1905

Leah Feldman
Slavic Review
Vol. 75, No. 2 (SUMMER 2016), pp. 256-278
DOI: 10.5612/slavicreview.75.2.256
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Page Count: 23
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Reading Gogol΄ in Azeri: Parodic Genealogies and the Revolutionary Geopoetics of 1905
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This essay investigates the geopoetic strategies through which Muslim writers contributed to as well as undermined the consolidation of the Russian literary canon. Its central focus is the Azeri writer Celil Memmedquluzade’s translation of Gogol?’s work, revealing the politicization of Gogol?’s poetics in the Muslim south Caucasus in 1905. Drawing upon Gogol?’s prose about the Russian provinces, its translation in the Caucasus, and its resurrection in literary theory, I illustrate the ways in which the poetics of the imperial provinces intersected with the Russian and Soviet imperial gaze, highlighting the internalizing force of imperial expansion as well as the radical alterity of the colonial experience. The early twentieth century was marked by a series of revolutionary upheavals in the imperial capital and periphery, as well as a Bolshevik ideological campaign to envision literature as an enlightened enterprise, that is, one characterized by both its scientific and political power. In dialectical fashion, the creation of a revolutionary poetics involved a repetition of Gogol?’s prose in order to reconcile and thus transcend the series of binaries associated with nineteenth century literature: center/periphery, oral/ written, self/other. Gogol?’s resurrection in Memmedquluzade’s translations and in the hands of his Formalist and postcolonial critics highlights the role of Russian imperial geopoetics in simultaneously sustaining and subverting a revolutionary literary culture

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