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The Impossible Peasant Voice in Russian Culture: Stylization and Mimicry

J. Alexander Ogden
Slavic Review
Vol. 64, No. 3 (Autumn, 2005), pp. 517-537
DOI: 10.2307/3650140
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3650140
Page Count: 21
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The Impossible Peasant Voice in Russian Culture: Stylization and Mimicry
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Abstract

Unlike the English term "stylization," Russian stilizatsiia figures prominently in literary theory. Emerging out of debates around Vsevolod Meierkhol'd's theatrical innovations and subsequently elaborated by "Silver Age" writers (Valerii Briusov, Viacheslav Ivanov, Mikhail Kuzmin), formalists (Iurii Tynianov, Boris Eikhenbaum, Viktor Gofman), and Mikhail Bakhtin, the Russian concept must be distinguished from cognate terms in other languages-something missing from both Russian and non-Russian discussions. In Russian, stilizatsiia is invoked in two distinct senses: as a critical value judgment (dismissing works considered artificial or "lifeless"), and as a complex and well-developed strategy of borrowing another's style (thus a sense related to parody and skaz). Works accepted as representing the "voice of the people" have often been exempted from analysis as stilizatsiia; J. Alexander Ogden argues, however, that "peasant poets" (Nikolai Kliuev, Aleksei Kol'tsov, Robert Burns) can best be understood precisely as stylizers in the sense elaborated by Bakhtin and others.

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