Samizdat Cамиздат 2012-2013
The McGill Russian Undergraduate Journal
2012-2013 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Janina Grabs EDITORIAL BOARD Chloe Bernert Augustin Chabrol Richard Dowe Janina Grabs Tomi Haxhi Jacob Parry Bradley Perot DESIGN AND LAYOUT Tomi Haxhi Jacob Parry CONTRIBUTORS Vanessa Baratta Augustin Chabrol Caleb Harrison Julie Leighton Annie MacKay Maria Naimark Elisa Penttilä Bradley Perot Martina Vidlakova ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Arts Undergraduate Society of McGill University Russian Undergraduate Student’s Society of McGill University
TABLE OF CONTENTS Augustin Chabrol 5 - 12 Путешествие внучки посла Bradley Perot 13 - 17 Eduard Limonov - The Simply Complex Leader of the National Bolshevik Party Martina Vidlakova 18 - 26 The Dubrovka Theater Siege in the Light of Old and New Explanations for Chechen Female Suicide Terrorism Elisa Penttilä 27 - 33 A Unified City: images of Leningrad as catalysts of patriotism in Soviet propaganda Vanessa Baratta 34 - 41 In Search of Nation: Ilya Repin and 19th-Century Russian Realism Julie Leighton 41 - 46 Magic at the Tsar’s Court: Witchcraft and the State in 17th Century Russia Annie MacKay 47 - 52 The Question of Russian Identity in Nikolai Leskov’s Lefty Caleb Harrison 53 - 57 Amidst Superfluity - How The Superfluous Man is Flourishing Figuratively and Literally Maria Naimark 58 - 63 Between We and Me: a Sustained Struggle 4
Путешествие внучки посла Augustin Chabrol
не нравится разглядывать карты. Особенно нравится мне разглядывать уникальные и интересные карты. На днях посмотрел я такую карту России, чья владелица повесила её на стене. Это была политическая карта с географической проекцией в третьем измерении: на ней выделялись горы в России и вокруг нее. Здесь можно было увидеть и даже почувствовать старые сглаженные Уральские горы и молодые пики Гималаев. «Я люблю На этой фотографии одна из встреч в Потсдаме, на которой эту карту» - услышал я присутствовали американский президент Трумэн, Иосиф Сталин, Уинстон Черчилль, а среди советников - дедушка Мии. Потсдам, голос за своей спиной. 1945. Original photo from the collection of Emlen Knight Davies. -- «Карта показывает мне, где побывала моя семья.» Я услышал голос Мии Грожана – рассматривать их и задавать себе вопросы о старой подруги нашей семьи. Несколько них. Кто они? И что это? Что это за кабина, на недель назад я ездил к Мии. В доме её не фоне которой они сняты? было, но, так как мы хорошо знаем друг Пять лет назад мы с матерью, сестрой друга, я тем не менее сам вошел в её дом. Я и Мией ехали из Брюсселя в Берлин. Там три гулял по нему и исследовал его. На книжной дня мы ходили в музеи, гуляли по городу, полке стояли книги о русской истории 20- задерживаясь на площадях и возле го века. На стене висела оригинальная карта памятников . Мы даже послушали оперу России. Я поднялся наверх, в студию Мии. Вагнера! Больше всего меня интересовало Там находился ее компьютер с несколькими то, что осталось в Берлине в наследство от экранами, сканер, огромный лазерный холодной войны. В один из наших трех дней мы принтер и всё, что нужно для того, чтобы отправились в близлежащий город Потсдам. создавать красивые снимки. На стене Там есть Дворец Цецилиенхоф, в котором студии висит одна из этих фотографий. На проводилась Постдамская конференция ней запечатлены четыре ребенка. Не знаю в 1945-ом году. Нам очень хотелось почему, но интересно попасть в конференц-зал, где проводились
Особняк Второва: американское посольство, где жила семья Мии. Москва, 1937. © 1937 Emlen Knight Davies and © 2008 Mia Grosjean.
Приезд в Москву. from the collection of Emlen Knight Davies.
Мать Мии идёт кататься на коньках с русским и коллегой своего отца. from the Collection of Emlen Knight Davies
переговоры, но доступ посетителям туда ограничен, поэтому сначала наша просьба посетить этот зал была отклонена. Однако когда Мия объяснила смотрителю, что её дедушка принимал участие в Постдамской конференции, нам разрешили пройти туда. Действительно дедушка Мии был вовлечен в процесс развития американосоветских отношений. Он вырос в одной из деревень в штате Висконсина и, с исключительной политической карьеры, он был назначен послом США в России в 1937-ом году. Сам Президент США Рузвельт попросил его принять эту должность, и дедушка Мии согласился. В это время в Европе широко обсуждался вопрос о возможности Второй мировой войны. Всех волновало, на чьей стороне будет СССР? На
немецкой или нет? Поэтому в задание посла входила оценка мощи советской армии и промышленности. Собрав эти сведения, он, возможно, узнал бы ответ на этот вопрос. Американский посол приехал в Москву вместе со своей женой и дочерью (матерью Мии). В течение всего срока их пребывания в СССР проживали они в особняке Второва – служебное помещение и приемная американского посла. «Огромный танцевальный зал, сверкающая люстра и элегантные комнаты с высокими потолками и окнами и изделиями из дерева тонкой работы заставляли меня думать, что я попала в прошлое, в царскую Россию», - писала дочь посла в своих мемуарах. «Наверняка, думала я, я жила во дворце!»1 В полной мере пользовалась двадцатилетняя дочь посла её пребыванием в России. Она записалась на частные уроки русского языка, а позже посещала курсы в юридическом институте. После уроков она тоже не сидела без дела: каталась на коньках, пересмотрела множество балетов и спектаклей, ездила с друзьями на дачу, присутствовала на официальных приемах в посольстве. «Я была занятой девушкой, но у меня было много энергии, и, кажется, что я никогда не утомлялась», - писала она. Прежде всего любила молодая девушка знакомиться с людьми: среди ее знакомых были как ее учителя, так и сокурсники, и даже маршал Тухачевский! Тем не менее, молодая девушка помнила, что находилась внутри крупного правительственного эксперимента в России. Время было непростое, и она с грустью понимала, что должна удерживать себя от слишком частого общения со своими 1 Its huge ballroom, immense sparkling chandelier, and elegant surroundings with high ceilings, tall windows, and exquisite woodwork, made me think I was back in tsarist Russia. Surely, I thought, I was living in a palace!
русскими знакомыми. В то же время, она была дочь посла, что ставило ее в выгодное положение: она могла наблюдать за всем, что происходило вокруг неё и в России, со стороны. «Она всюду ходила с её отцом и мачехой» , -писала её дочь в мемуарах. «Она могла бы быть мухой на стене, ходила ли она того, и практически ничего не ускользало от её внимания ».2 В 1938-ом году её отец, американский дипломат, получил назначение на должность посла в Бельгии. Там через год его молодая дочь вышла замуж за бельгийского джентльмена. Потом у неё родились дети, и затем вместе со своей семьей она переехала в Америку. Так она оказалась в совершенно новых для себя обстоятельствах. И хотя ее жизнь в России ушла в прошлое, её воспоминания об этом 2 […] she went everywhere with her mother and father. She could be a fly on the wall when she wanted, and virtually nothing escaped her powers of observation.
жили в ней и она делилась ими со своими детьми, рассказывая им свои истории. Как-то не так давно в декабре они праздновали Рождество. По этому случаю она подарила своей младшей дочери Мии особый подарок. Это был маленький ящик, в котором хранились разные бумажки, собранные на память о каких-то событиях. Среди них был и ярлык подарка от какогото старого знакомого. Мия рассматривала этот незатейливый сувенир и вдруг осознала, что её мать получила этот подарок от жены Молотова! На ярлыке она прочитала надпись: «Given to me by Madame Molotov». Она почувствовала, что только что в её жизни произошло что-то действительно важное: она обнаружила себя вовлеченной в удивительную историю. «Мия, тебе надо взяться за это дело!», - сказала Мия сама себе. «Это не просто семейная история, эта
Русские дети перед церковью. Немчиновка, 1937-8. © 1937 Emlen Knight Davies and © 2008 Mia Grosjean.
история имеет гораздо большее значение!» 3 Так начала Мия открывать историю своей семьи. Она слушала и записывала всё, что её мать рассказывала о своей жизни в Москве, когда жила там в качестве дочери посла. Устная история становилась письменной и перерастала в рукопись. Мия спросила свою мать о том, у нее ли фотографии этого времени. Мать показала Мии свою коллекцию старых фотографий. Такое сокровище были эти фотографии! Были старые снимки зданий и людей, на которых запечатлелась жизнь Москвы в конце 30х. «Я знала только то, что фотографии эти красивы», - сказала Мия. «Но я очень хотела знать больше о них».4 Любопытство подстрекало её увеличивать размер фотографий с помощью компьютера. «Я хотела сделать фотографии такими большими, чтобы можно было гулять в них и слушать, что говорят люди »,5- писала Мия в мемуарах. Для этого много дней она детально прорабатывала каждую фотографию. Непрерывно во время работы она пристально глядела на людей, изображенных на них. Она могла смотреть на их лица и слушать, что они говорят. Так знакомилась она с этими людьми. Одна из её любимых фотографий: на снимке дети, которые стоят вместе в ряд. Выражения их лиц детские и одновременно торжественные. На улице зима, и поэтому везде лежит снег. Позади детей, как фон, стоит маленькая кабина. «Как сказала моя
Центральный парк культуры и отдыха имени Горького. Москва, 1937. © 1937 Emlen Knight Davies and © 2008 Mia Grosjean.
мать», сказала Мия, «Эти дети достаточно взрослые, чтобы вступить в армию Сталина».6 Есть интрига и тайна в каждой фотографии Мии, в этом числе и снимок с кабиной. Кто эти люди и дети на фотографии? Что с ними случилось? Можно сегодня узнать об этом? У Мии в связи с фотографиями возникает ещё больше вопросов. Ей хочется выяснить, что происходило с людьми, 3 “Mia, you need to pay attention. Wake up. This isn’t изображенными на фотографиях. just a funny little story that your mother is telling you. Мия одна из самых активных This isn’t just a family story. This is a bigger story.” 4 I didn’t know what I had. I just knew that they were жительниц в своём городе Л��нг-Айленд beautiful. And I knew that I really wanted to know more about them. 5 I wanted to print them so big that I could walk inside them and hear what the people were saying.
6 As mother said, they were just old enough to be part of Stalin’s army.
Бальный зал в Особняке Второва во время выставки Мии в честь 75-летия американского посольства. Москва, 2008. Mia Grosjean photo June 2008.
в штате Нью-Йорк. Больше всего она занимается делами общины. Всегда, когда мы с Мией гуляем по деревне, она останавливается , чтобы поговорить с людьми. Все знают Мию, и Мия знает всех. Поэтому и о её проекте жителей села узнали устно. Однажды ей позвонили из американского посольства в Москве и спросили о её фотографиях. Какое замечательное потрясение для Мии! После того, как она показала посольству некоторые снимки, она получила заказ напечатать 60 фотографий в большом формате. Эти фотографии будут повешены на стене американского посольства в Москве в честь 75-ей годовщины. Интересно, что это то же самое здание, в котором жили 70 лет назад дедушка и мама Мии: особняк Второва. Я видел Мию летом 2008-го года до её поездки в Москву на празднование годовщины. Она была возбуждена и не знала, чего ожидать. Никогда не была она в России, но все же всегда пристально вглядывалась она в эту страну и её людей на своих фотографиях. Она делала всё это, не зная, чем окончится её проект. «Августин, я не знаю, что должно случиться», - сказала Мия мне. «Это какбудто я ныряю на глубину в совершенно
незнакомом месте». Она поехала в Москву так же, как её дедушка и мама 70 лет назад. Поездка была успешной. Была большая вечеринка в особняке Второва, на которую пришло около 300 человек. Танцевальный зал был заполнен фотографиями. Во время празднования Мия выступила с речью, которую написала её мать. Там она познакомилась с людьми государственного департамента, которые просили её, чтобы она провела беседы о своём фотопроекте в университетах. В течение первой недели Мия сделал это, а всю вторую неделю посвятила прогулкам по Москве. «Я полюбила Москву», - сказала Мия. «Это было невероятно интересное время».7 К счастью, для Мии открылась возможность изучать тайны этих фотографий. Некоторые из людей, с которыми познакомилась Мия во время её поездки в Москву, были из РГГУ8. Они интересовались проектом Мии и поэтому спросили её, хотела бы она работать над 7 I just loved it, I had an incredibly interesting time. 8 Российский государственный гуманитарный университет
Мия со своей матерью. 2008. Photo by Charles Grubb.
проектом в их университете. Таким образом ей предоставилась возможность исследовать фотографии в российских архивах. И таким образом перед ее проектом открылись еще одни двери. Мия решила идти дальше и действительно исследовать свое сокровище в Москве. Она обратилась в Fulbright за стипендией, с которой она могла бы исследовать фотографии в архиве РГГУ9 в Москве. По-моему, она была так преданна своему проекту, что она стала учёной. «В глубине души я всегда была историком», призналась Мия. Итак, в мае этого года от программы Fulbright ей было послано письмо, в котором ее поздравили с получением стипендии. Замечательная новость! Некоторое время назад у меня ещё раз появилась возможность встретиться с Мией. Мы с ней сидели за её кухонным столом, и она рассказывала мне всё об истории своей семьи и о своем проекте. Наша встреча состоялась 9 Российский государственный гуманитарный университет
незадолго до ее отъезда в Москву, поэтому она нервничала и была взволнована. Её задание трудное: она хочет найти сведения в архивах о том, что случилось со знакомыми её матери и деда, изображенными на фотографиях. Она уже нашла одну что-то в своих фотографиях, но её задача настолько же сложна как поиск иголки в стоге сена («finding a needle in a haystack»). Несмотря на все трудности, которые ее ожидают при выполнении своей задачи, Мия все равно намерена ее выполнить и с этой целью поехала в Москву. Теперь она в Москве – в городе, который вовсе не похож на город, в котором она живет в Америке. Конечно, ей надо будет приспособиться к московскому образу жизни. Я получил несколько писем от Мии по электронной почте, где она сообщает о своей жизни там. Она рассказывает одновременно и о маленьких и о больших историях, случившихся с нею в Москве. О том, что ей было сначала трудно ездить на московском метро, но сейчас она уже приспособилась с его устройству. О том, что она могла познакомиться и побеседовать с замечательными русскими аспирантами, которые хотят учиться в Америке и, как Мия, получили стипендию Фулбрайта. Она тоже, конечно, пишет мне и о том, что начала свои исследования в русско-американском центре РГГУ. Там, в этом центре, работает Мия с группой заинтересованных русских студентов. Так как в 2008-ом году в РГГУ была выставка снимков Мии, некоторые студенты уже знали о ее проекте, и появилась группа помощников, состоящая из 12-15 человек. По четвергам они приходят в центр и помогают Мии определять, где были сделаны снимки. «Мы повесили карту центра Москвы на стену и обозначаем на ней места снимков канцелярскими кнопками и ниткой»10, 10 We’ve hung up a map of Central Moscow in the Russian American Academic Center and are push-pinning
написала Мия в одном из своих писем из Москвы. В течение недели студенты ходят по городу и ищут места, где были сделаны фотографии. «Кажется, что студентам нравится мой проект, потому что это дает им возможность неким образом приблизиться к тому сложному времени из прошлого своей страны», - замечает Мия. «И мне тоже. »11 Её проект – это итог всего того, что сделала ее семья. Работа и миссия её дедушки; наблюдения и воспоминания её матери; мастерство и большое любопытство Мии. Таким образом Мия может приблизиться к своему дедушке. «Я вижу его на одной их моих любимых фотографий. В начале 20 века он стоит недалеко от реки в Висконсине - красивый и молодой атташе штата. А потом опять на фотографии в одной статье в «Вашингтон-Пост» 1955-го года , где он выглядит как старик», - описывала мне его Мия. «Дуга его жизни невероятно выгнута. Я уверена, что слышу его голос, и это глубоко трогает меня». 12
the images to their spots with thread. 11 The students seem to love it because it’s another way of getting into this delicate and difficult time in their past. And mine. 12 I see him in one of my favorite photographs – where he is standing by the Brule River, in Wisconsin, in the early 1900 as the beautiful, young state’s attorney – and then again in a 1955 Washington Post article as an old man. The arc of his life is profound. I hear his voice unmistakably.
Edward Limonov - The Simply Complex Leader of the National Bolshevik Party Bradley Perot
duard Limonov is a highly eccentric and controversial man. Born in 1943 as Eduard Savenko, he adopted the name ‘Limonov’ as a penname later in life. Limonov is currently 69 years old and is the leader of the National Bolshevik Party (NBP) in Russia.1 When delving into the thoughts and writings of Eduard Limonov, it is important to understand that many of his ideas seemingly contradict one another, and indeed many seem to condemn all points of view, including his own. Understanding Limonov and his ideology can prove difficult and utterly confusing given that they contain so many apparent contradictions, but after careful consideration, it is easy to discern what Limonov advocates for and how these ideas pose problems for the Russian government. It will be the purpose of this essay to define that which Eduard Limonov advocates for in three parts: first in terms of what he advocates against, secondly in showcasing what and who he explicitly supports, and ultimately through attempting to predict the future importance of Limonov in Russian politics. Limonov is most importantly the leader of the National Bolshevik Party in Russia today, but he is also a key figure in the political coalition called The Other Russia. From these two platforms, Limonov harshly criticizes Russia and its citizens, Western nations and cultures, and the current regime in Russia and its policies. Additionally, Limonov promotes ideas which have been condemned by many as staunchly fascist, as well as ideas which are exceedingly supportive of National Bolshevism and general political opposition. Firstly, Eduard Limonov is unfalteringly anti-Russian. In his article “Through Black Glasses (Limonov on Russia)”, Limonov states that “[the] 1 Shenfield, Russian Fascism, 199.
Russian nation was created by [the] Russian climate and Russian blood,” arguing that many, if not all, problems in Russia today find their roots in the ethnicity of Russian citizens and the oppressive weather experienced year-round in Russia.2 Discussing the dreadful weather in Moscow, Limonov asserts that such horrible weather “was created by [a] joint commission of [the] Ministry of Justice, of [the] Ministry of Interior Affairs and [the] General Prosecutor’s office in order to punish Russian citizens every day”.3 The aspect of the Russian identity which Limonov criticizes perhaps most harshly is what he calls ‘proverbial slowness’: “[the] enigmatical Russian Soul is simply Russian man, uncertain, slow to decide, hesitating, never sure of itself, never sure of its own decision”.4 He goes on to specify that the Finnish heritage of Russian citizens is to blame for this hesitation and uncertainty, furthering his point that the history of the Russian people would be drastically different and vastly superior were the majority of Russian citizens of Slavic descent. However, Limonov offers no real explanation as to why it is the Finnish heritage, so ubiquitous in Russian culture, that makes the Russian people so allegedly lazy and slow. These anti-Russian views are highly interesting to those studying Eduard Limonov, since not only is Limonov himself Russian, he is also noted for his extremely nationalistic views. In fact, it seems contradictory for Limonov to be so firmly nationalistic, but yet have such feelings of hatred toward his own kind. However, this contradiction is easily resolved: Limonov’s ideal Russian society is something that is drastically different from that 2 Limonov, “Through Black Glasses”. 3 Limonov, “Happy Fucking Birthday Moscow”. 4 Limonov, “Through Black Glasses”.
which exists today; he wants Russian culture to change. While this is not a typical form of nationalism, Limonov defends it as nationalism nevertheless. He describes his particular brand of nationalism not as one promoting Russian culture as it is, but rather one promoting a new culture to come out of Russia.5 Another contradiction we see when examining the thoughts and ideologies of Eduard Limonov are his extremely critical sentiments regarding Western nations and culture. It may be logical for the leader of an organization promoting National Bolshevism to be staunchly against everything for which Western culture stands. However, the fact that Limonov in particular fosters such sentiments is surprising given his nearly twenty years of exile in the West. He even draws much inspiration from aspects of Western culture, such as the New York City punk movement.6 In 1973, Limonov was expelled from Russia after having refused a KGB-issued request to become an informant for the Communist party and within a year, he was on a plane to Vienna. Limonov would go on to live in New York City and then Paris, eventually acquiring French citizenship in 1987.7 Having spent nearly twenty years in the West, Limonov was greatly influenced by the cultures of New York City and Paris; some of his hateful sentiments therefore come as a shock to Westerners. This hatred is exemplified by his words in an article written by Limonov in The eXile: “America wonders why…thousands of its angelical citizens have died under tons of steel and glass of [the] World Trade Centers…[it is] because America is EVIL”.8 On the other hand, Limonov’s anti-government sentiments are in fact not contradictory to his other beliefs and roots. Indeed they make logical sense, for the Russian government has on multiple occasions carried out actions which render Limonov’s life as a political figure extremely 5 6 7 8
Limonov, “The Other Russia”, preface par. 1. Ibid, ch. 4 par. 15. Shenfield, Russian Fascism, 201. Limonov, “Bush, Kerry, Putin and Company”.
difficult. As a result, Limonov regularly positions himself against the Russian government, Putin, and recently Medvedev in particular. In an article he wrote for The eXile, Limonov is highly critical not only of Medvedev and Putin themselves, but also of the governmental system which placed them in power. He states that Medvedev was elected largely “because of simple cheating…Some sources said that Mr. Medvedev got only 27% of the votes,” and goes on to suggest that the election was most likely manipulated by the Federal Security Service.9 In the same article, Limonov further criticizes President Medvedev, stating that “Mr. Medvedev is not a political figure, he is a practically unknown bureaucrat, one of a huge crowd of bureaucrats surrounding Putin” and “if the elected president had been named Zyuganov or Yavlinski or Kasparov or even Limonov, nobody in Russia would have asked a question”. Furthermore, in his book Limonov vs. Putin, Limonov goes so far as to insinuate that Prime Minister Putin is in some respect the new tsar of Russia: “In total, except for the Kremlin, mister Putin has 13 residences or estates, as you like. This is truly a tsar’s life!”10 It is clear to see that Eduard Limonov is very discontent with Russia today. This leads us to the question: what does he actually advocate? This question appears complicated and difficult to answer; however, once Limonov’s role in the NBP as well as his position in The Other Russia have been thoroughly studied, we can begin to understand exactly how he believes Russia ought to be run. First and foremost, Eduard Limonov is the leader of the National Bolshevik Party and is one of its two founding members, the other being Alexander Dugin, who left the NBP in 1998 under friendly circumstances.11 While Dugin was certainly a key figure in the early years of the NBP, this essay will focus more on the intellectual leadership of Limonov in the Party. Additionally it will be assumed that Eduard Limonov and the NBP 9 Limonov, “Mr. Limonov on Mr. Medvedev”. 10 Limonov, Limonov vs. Putin, part II, ch. 8, par. 4. 11 Shenfield, Russian Fascism, 191.
share identical principles, as is accepted by much of the academic community today. As outlined on the NBP official website, the “essence of national-bolshevism is the incinerating hatred [of the] antihuman system of the trinity: liberalism/democracy/capitalism”, and ultimately the NBP promotes the replacement of these characteristics with the ideals of “spiritual courage, [and] social and national justice”.12 As a continuation of this thought, the NBP states as its main purpose “the creation of [an] Empire from Vladivostok up to Gibraltar [including the] joining of the territories of former republics of the Soviet Union, inhabit[ed] by Russians”.13 Thus, one of the main tenets of National Bolshevism, and therefore of Eduard Limonov’s personal ideology, is the creation of a Eurasian empire with the above principles at the heart of its society. Limonov suggests a number of ways to achieve this goal, but there are two main methods he discusses: the use of violence and the staging of protests, peaceful or otherwise. For example, Limonov has been arrested on numerous occasions in recent years for his participation in protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Generally speaking, the demonstrations planned by Limonov serve to voice disapproval with the alleged failure of the Russian government to respect Article 31 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the article granting the right to free assembly, and thus the demonstrations are held every month containing 31 days. By extension, these protests also voice disapproval with what Limonov refers to as the Russian “one-party regime”.14 However, the violent tactics suggested by Limonov to further promote his ideology and improve the status of the NBP are of particular interest due to Limonov’s fascist opinions on violence. For Limonov, violence is “not a necessary evil, justified by the end it serves, but a positive value in itself ”, and this opinion of violence can be seen 12 National Bolshevik Party, “Programm”. 13 Ibid. 14 Interfax, “Limonov calls protesting deputies”.
throughout many of Limonov’s writings, particularly in the NBP official newspaper Limonka.15 On the other hand, while Limonov certainly praises violent and revolutionary actions aimed at overthrowing the current regime, he argues that in today’s Russia, a widespread revolution with the goal of instating a new Bolshevik regime would simply not be successful due to the increasingly lazy and complacent Russian soul.16 These highly enthusiastic opinions of violence certainly have not gone unnoticed with Limonov’s critics: he is notorious for his alarmingly fascist nature, and has been imprisoned in the past for his fascist actions. For example, Limonov is known to have a friendly relationship with former Serbian leader Radovan Karadžić, and even joined him in firing a round of bullets on the city of Sarajevo during the city’s siege in 1992.17 Limonov has also been known to associate with Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a man noted for his extreme radical ideas, though the two are now on unfriendly terms with one another.18 Furthermore, in April of 2001, Limonov was arrested and taken into custody on charges of “illegally purchasing and possessing weapons, plotting terrorist attacks and the forced overthrow of the constitutional order” (Gazeta 2003). During his trial following this arrest, prosecutors insisted that Limonov and the NBP purchased these weapons with the intention of carrying out a plan called ‘A Second Russia’, aiming to invade Kazakhstan and conquer it for the new Bolshevik Russia. Limonov was ultimately found not guilty of having masterminded such a plot, though there still exists much speculation as to whether this ruling was entirely sound, for in an article written for The eXile, Limonov maintains that “Russia should swallow Kazakhstan[‘s] territory if we want our children to have sunshine”.19 Eduard Limonov is also associated with the 15 16 17 18 19
Shenfield, Russian Fascism, 206-207. Sapon, “Apostles of the Other Russia”, 47. Gessen, “Monumental Foolishness”. Shenfield, Russian Fascism, 97. Limonov, “Through Black Glasses”.
political coalition by the name of The Other Russia. The Other Russia is a coalition with the aim of presenting a solid political opposition to the current regime in Russia, and while Limonov does not advocate his more radical ideas through this organization, he still maintains membership and organizes protests and other less-drastic means of spreading his ideology.20 This membership enables Limonov to form many political alliances with other members, including Mikhail Kasyanov, the former Prime Minister of Russia, and Garry Kasparov, who is the current leader of The Other Russia as well as of the United Civil Front political party.21 Eduard Limonov, being characteristically peculiar and unconventional in matters of politics, is arguably one of the most complex political figures in Russia today: he is a supporter of extreme Russian nationalism, yet he constantly alludes to his hatred of the Russian people. He argues that revolution is the only way to truly change the way the Russian government is operated, yet he maintains that such a revolution would never succeed. He openly discusses his hatred of all things Western, yet he lived for nearly two decades in the West and even holds French citizenship. It is because of these contradictions that Eduard Limonov is so difficult to understand, but they are also what make him such an intriguing political figure. In today’s Russia, Limonov is not widely supported, or even widely known among Russian citizens: according to a poll taken in 2007, only 41% of those polled were aware of who Eduard Limonov was, and of that, only 2% had a positive view of him.22 However, it is possible that Limonov’s importance and that of his National Bolshevik Party could increase in the coming years if they can find a way to maneuver around the current oppressive regime and truly begin to gain widespread support. 20 The Other Russia, “Day of Protest Marked Around Russia.” 21 Stalyarova, “Thousands Take to City Streets for Protest”. 22 “Russian Attitudes Toward the Opposition”, Russian Analytical Digest.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Gessen, Keith. 2003. “Monumental Foolishness.” Slate, February 20, 2003. URL: http://www. slate.com/id/2078955/ (accessed on March 14, 2010). Interfax Information Services. 2009. “Limonov calls protesting deputies to Triumfanlaya Square.” Interfax: Russia & CIS General Newswire (October). URL: http://global.factiva.com/ha/default.aspx (accessed March 11, 2010). Limonov, Eduard. 2004a. “The Other Russia.” URL: http://nazbol.ru/rubr23/2477.html (accessed March 9, 2010). Limonov, Eduard. 2004b. “Bush, Kerry, Putin and Company.” The eXile, October 29, 2004. URL: http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=7516&IBLOCK_ID=35 (accessed March 5, 2010). Limonov, Eduard. 2005. “Limonov vs. Putin.” URL: http://nazbol.ru/rubr23/2437.html (accessed March 10, 2010). Limonov, Eduard. 2005. “Limonov vs. Putin.” URL: http://nazbol.ru/rubr23/2437.html (accessed March 10, 2010). Limonov, Eduard. 2007. “Happy Fucking Birthday Moscow, You Ugly Hag!” The eXile, September 7, 2007. URL: http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=10131&IBLOCK_ ID=35&PAGE=1 (accessed March 4, 2010). Limonov, Eduard. 2008. “Through Black Glasses (Limonov on Russia).” The eXile, February 11, 2008. URL: http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=16499&IBLOCK_ ID=35&PAGE=1 (accessed March 4, 2010). Limonov, Eduard. 2008. “Mr. Limonov on Mr. Medvedev.” The eXile, May 8, 2008. URL: http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=18948&IBLOCK_ID=35 (accessed March 5, 2010). “Maverick writer freed.” 2003. In Johnson’s Russia List. S.11. 30 June 2003. Available from Listserv at http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/7245-11.cfm. National Bolshevik Party. 1995. “Program of the National Bolshevik Party.” URL: http://web. archive.org/web/20070501182900/eng.nbp-info.ru/cat19/index.html (accessed March 11, 2010). Russian Attitudes Toward the Opposition. 2007. Russian Analytical Digest, no. 28 (October): 10-15. URL: www.res.ethz.ch (accessed March 9, 2010). Sapon, Vladimir. 2005. “Apostles of the Other Russia.” Russian Politics and Law, vol. 43, no. 6 (November): 43-61. URL: http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=1&hid=7&sid=070ffbe8-b9054d5b-a30f-9d5d6b839243%40sessionmgr10&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a 9h&AN=19384475. Shenfield, Stephen. 2001. Russian Fascism. New York: M. E. Sharpe, Inc. Stalyarova, Galina. 2007. “Thousands Take to City Streets for Protest.” The St. Petersburg Times, March 6, 2007. URL: http://www.sptimesrussia.com/index.php?action_id=2&story_id=20875 (accessed March 3, 2010).
The Dubrovka Theater Siege in the Light of Old and New Explanations for Chechen Female Suicide Terrorism Martina Vidlakova
n October 23, 2002 a group of Chechen rebels, including about twenty women with explosive belts, took the Moscow Dubrovka Theater hostage during a performance and demanded Chechen independence from Russia. The siege ended when Russian security forces used a disabling gas and stormed the building, killing the rebels and some of the hostages. Although women have been widely involved in the Chechen Jihad against Russian rule, this particular event stands out both in magnitude and in the media attention it has received. This paper seeks to assess the participation of female suicide bombers1 in the siege by critically evaluating the existing literature that deals with women, Jihad, and terrorism in Chechnya. Furthermore, additional factors will be proposed that could contribute to explaining female involvement in the Dubrovka Theater siege. Seeking complementary motivations and causes for female participation in violent Jihad is crucial in order to accommodate the fact that not all women facing the same conditions have become suicide bombers in Chechnya. It will be argued that this pressing issue has not yet been satisfactorily addressed by scholars and authors. The Russo-Chechen conflict fully erupted after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, although the Chechen secessionist movement dates its activity back to 1988.2 Chechen leadership demanded an end to discrimination and under-representation in political, economic, and cultural structures, while at the same time promoting their own language, culture, and religion - Islam. The historical
legacy of injustices perpetrated by the Soviet Union and Russia against the Chechen people served as a moral ground to claims for independence when the Soviet Union started to disintegrate.3 However, Russia refused to recognize Chechnyaâ€™s independence, and Russian President Boris Yeltsin dispatched troops in 1994 in an attempt to regain control over the Chechen territory. The first Russo-Chechen war lasted until 1996, with Russians eventually failing to establish military control over the whole of Chechnya. The war caused the destruction of or damage to numerous villages and the capital city Grozny;4 and it can be argued that the struggle gradually radicalized and shifted from secular nationalism towards a movement more grounded in religion.5 After producing great casualties on both sides, the war ended in a cease-fire, but the underlying conflict over the autonomous or independent status of Chechnya persisted.6 The second Russo-Chechen war broke out in 1999 and resulted in Russian occupation of much of Chechnya, including Grozny. The rebels largely retreated to the mountains, where they effectively resisted Russian attempts to establish control. Both sides have a contentious record of human rights abuses as the war created 250,000 refugees and caused great suffering for virtually the entire Chechen population. The war has been more or less ongoing since 1999, with violence frequently erupting and the status of Chechnya still in dispute.7 The siege of Moscowâ€™s Dubrovka Theater, which took place from October 23rd to 26th, 2002, should thus be seen as a part of the
1 None of the women eventually committed a suicide bombing and all were killed in the Russian operation. Nevertheless, they should be considered suicide bombers, because they appeared ready to set their bombs off if ordered to do so. 2 Hughes, Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad, 18.
3 4 5 6 7
Ibid., 21. Ibid., 81. Ibid., 85. Skaine, Female Suicide Bombers, 97-98. Ibid., 98.
Chechen struggle for independence in the context of a decade-long war with Russia where conventional means and guerilla warfare had not achieved a satisfactory settlement. Wahhabism has come to constitute a major component of the second Russo-Chechen war. Historically, Islam took a moderate form in Chechnya and the primary practice was Sunni and Sufi. Shari’a replaced local customs and norms only in the 19th century, shortly before Soviet rule suppressed religious belief and practice.8 A religious revival occurred during the 1990s and Wahhabism started to compete with the dominant Sufism.9 James Hughes has illustrated that the second war can be characterized by its radicalization and Islamization, present in both the Russian and Chechen narratives of the conflict.10 The growth of Wahhabi influence constituted the key to the transformation into a Jihadist war.11 The conversion of the rebel leader Shamil Basayev to the Wahhabi doctrine in mid-1990s led him to adopt the label of mujahidin for his fighters. In addition, the experienced military commander Ibn al-Khattab, a follower of Abdullah Azzam and Osama Bin Laden, is credited with participation in training and intelligence of the Chechens.12 Therefore, Wahhabism constitutes a component that needs to be taken into account in analyzing female involvement in the Dubrovka Theater siege. Women’s roles in Chechen society have been clearly defined and traditionally centered on the household. Moreover, Chechen women have been primarily required to maintain the family’s honor, which could be damaged most detrimentally by rape. The practice of abducting girls and forcing them to marry their kidnapper under the threat of rape, or raping them to give them no other choice than to marry the kidnapper, has not 8 Tishkov, Chechnya: Life in a War-Torn Society, 164165. 9 Ibid., 170-172. 10 Hughes, Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad, 94. 11 Ibid., 99. 12 Ibid., 100-102.
been uncommon.13 Interestingly, religion played a less prominent role in daily life before the war: for example, women generally did not wear Islamic dress except a head scarf. Notably, scholarly analysis differs on the issue of the impact of Wahhabism on the norms and agency of Chechen women. According to Valery Tishkov, women suddenly began covering their faces and wearing Islamic dress14 and he implies that they did so out of religious conviction after having adopted the Wahhabi doctrine. On the other hand, Paul J. Murphy emphasized that the hijab was forced on women by the Wahhabis in the 1990s and women refused it as “unacceptable for [their] society.”15 Extending the issue to the Dubrovka Theater siege, it was observed that the participating women were all dressed in black with covered faces. Nevertheless, some of them, especially the younger girls, took the veils off their faces over time as it became uncomfortably hot in the theatre.16 This behavior can be interpreted as a sign of outward acceptance of the norm of veiling, but also of a lack of deep conviction that the veil is a necessity at all times and under any circumstances. Paul J. Murphy holds a remarkable perspective on acceptable and unacceptable conduct of Chechen women. He elaborates that they were strongly discouraged from wandering outside the household on their own, because they could be kidnapped for ransom or forced into becoming a suicide bomber.17 Murphy gives highly pragmatic grounding to practices that the prevalent Western discourse has portrayed as manifestations of the subordinated role of women in Islam. In relation 13 Murphy, Allah’s Angels, 17. 14 Tishkov, Chechnya: Life in a War-Torn Society, 173174. 15 Murphy, Allah’s Angels, 10. 16 Skaine, Female Suicide Bombers, 112. 17 This view was enforced by the case of 16-year-old Zarema, who was kidnapped by her fiancé and pressured to bomb a police station in Grozny in 2002. In 2003, another young woman was kidnapped, raped, and forced to become a suicide bomber to absolve her shame. Murphy, Allah’s Angels, 77.
to the analysis of female involvement in violent Jihad, his perspective draws attention to the fact that some Chechen women might have committed suicide attacks and other violence under coercion and force. The question of female agency and motives in joining militant Jihad then gains an entirely different dimension than typically discussed. While women have greatly suffered both physically and psychologically during the RussoChechen wars, they have also perpetrated violence in Chechnya. Those women who have in one way or another helped Chechen fighters “number in thousands and are found in every age group and just about every household.”18 Those that lived in the mountains carried out supportive tasks to the mujahidin such as cooking, cleaning, nursing, and keeping up the morale. They sometimes carried guns and participated in armed defense of the villages when needed. Female fighters also directly served in a number of Chechen units and formed their own sniper group called White Stocking that was active in the mountains of Chechnya in the 1990s.19 The first female suicide bombers appeared in 2000 and Murphy identified at least 13 female terrorists before the Dubrovka Theater siege in October 2002.20 After the siege, which Murphy called a “watershed event,” the Chechen rebels started to employ terror on the civilians as a strategic weapon in their struggle and female engagement has been frequent.21 In fact, the majority of Chechen suicide attacks after 2000 has been committed by women or has involved their direct participation.22 Chechen female terrorists have been recognized in the discourse of general female militancy and involvement in Jihad. According to Cindy D. Ness, as the first female suicide terrorists they paved the way for other Muslim women to engage in militant Jihad.23 Karla J. Cunnigham compared 18 Ibid., 125. 19 Ibid., 102-106. 20 Ibid., 137. 21 Ibid., 166. 22 Hughes, Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad, 151; Struckman, “The Veiled Women and Masked Men,” 338. 23 Ness, “In the Name of the Cause,” 360
the Chechen case to the Global Jihadi Movement (GJM) and found that along with the Palestinian case the Chechen Jihad differs from other Muslim settings. The Chechen and Palestinian conceptualization of Jihad is distinct from the Salafi one, although they all interpret Jihad as an obligation of every Muslim regardless of age or gender. In Chechnya however, the concept of Jihad is used instrumentally to make female participation consistent with cultural norms, but not religious norms, as religion does not play a pronounced role in public life.24 Cunningham observes that nationalism blends with Wahhabism in Chechnya and while female participation resembles traditionally nationalist settings rather than the GJM, significant influence of Salafism makes Chechnya a distinct case of its own. Chechen Jihad thus constitutes a bridge between the Palestinian and GJM models.25 The implication of Cunningham’s argument follows that Wahhabism has not acted as a constraint on female involvement in Chechen militancy, but has served as a mobilizing instrument for the whole population. Female suicide bombers took an active part in the siege of the Dubrovka Theater on October 23, 2002. They comprised about one third to one half of around forty terrorists that took the building and the people inside it hostage. The precise statistic given in literature differs due to problems in identification and release of information by the authorities following the killing of the rebels, but most sources claim that fifteen to twenty females were involved. The attack appeared carefully organized, with every rebel having their place and task in the theater.26 The hostages reported that the women did not have any authority and all decisions on the site were made by men.27 For instance, one of the Chechen female rebels told a male hostage: 24 Cunningham, “The Evolving Participation of Muslim Women,” 85-86. 25 Ibid., 91-92. 26 Souleimanov, An Endless War, 236-238. 27 Skaine, Female Suicide Bombers, 112.
“Don’t worry. Without the order, I won’t set off the bomb.”28 Rosemarie Skaine even implies that the reason the bombs were not detonated when the disabling gas started to enter the building on October 26 was that the women had not received an order to do so, because the men were preoccupied with the Russian security forces.29 Skaine portrayed the women as generally more passive than men, more firm and difficult to talk to for the hostages, and more determined to die than the male rebels.30 This image however contrasts with Murphy’s observation that the female terrorists gradually showed a soft side, wept along with the hostages and “they were afraid to die just like everyone else.”31 Sara Struckman relevantly points out in her analysis of the documentary Terror in Moscow32 that Western scholarship and media often follow the predominant notions of the masculine and the feminine,33 making it unnatural for women to carry out violence but natural to bond and sympathize with the hostages.34 The accounts of Skaine and Murphy do not conform to this discourse, as Skaine predominantly recognizes the tough side of the involved women and Murphy describes both dimensions in their behavior through instances of kindness as well as harshness in treating the hostages. Nevertheless, Struckman also identifies the need to justify and explain female but not male participation in the attack, because the female involvement is perceived as unnatural.35 A dichotomy is often drawn between the organizational and the personal factors that could explain female involvement in Jihad and suicide
bombing in particular. In the Chechen case, the top-down explanation has not been pronounced, but nevertheless deserves attention. In relation to the Dubrovka Theater siege and the subsequent “epidemic of suicide bombings,”36 Murphy poses the question of why Chechen women kill themselves and approaches the answer from a pragmatic perspective. Firstly, he stresses the economic advantage of female suicide terrorism for the groups. It is cheap and the best way to attract financing from Bin Laden and other Islamic extremist constituencies. Moreover, suicide attacks do not require extensive supplies of ammunition.37 Secondly, suicide terrorism has great killing power. It enables efficient targeting and generates a high number of casualties. Deployment of women carries strategic advantages such as arousing less suspicion and having a lower chance of being detected when penetrating target areas.38 In the case of the Dubrovka Theater siege, the male leadership of the mission decided that about half of the participants would be young girls because it was easier for them to enter Moscow unchecked.39 Additionally, women significantly outnumber men as a result of wartime attrition and thus constitute a large pool for recruitment.40 Thirdly, a suicide attack carried out by a woman makes a greater psychological impact on the civilians and the media than one carried out by a man. The resulting destabilization of Russian society and increase of public pressure on the government are precisely the goals of the Chechen rebels.41 However, this top-down explanation is highly insufficient. Individuals, in this case the Chechen female terrorists, make decisions about 28 Murphy, Allah’s Angels, 163. their own actions and thus not only opportunity, 29 Skaine, Female Suicide Bombers, 112-113. but also willingness must exist for an individual to 30 Ibid., 113. engage in certain behavior. The pragmatic justifica31 Murphy, Allah’s Angels, 163. tion entirely overlooks the agency of female actors 32 The documentary includes interviews with the surviving hostages and the tape made by a video camera that and their motivations for joining militant Jihad in was recording the performance when the terrorists took control of the theatre. The documentary was produced in the UK. 33 Sara Struckman, “The Veiled Women and Masked Men,” 337. 34 Ibid., 351. 35 Ibid., 348-349.
36 37 38 39 40 41
Murphy, Allah’s Angels, 197. Ibid., 209-210. Ibid., 210-211. Ibid., 157. Ibid., 210-211. Ibid., 211.
Chechnya. Murphy in fact complements his four-dimensional explanation with the personal factor. He critically assesses the most common opinions on the issue and rejects them empirically, supporting his claims with evidence from his field research. Murphy disagrees with the argument that rape and the subsequent need for redemption drive women to become suicide terrorists, because none of the testimonies of the martyrs’ family members or of the unsuccessful suicide bombers confirm this assertion. Furthermore, he discards the notion of blood revenge for lost relatives as a motivating factor for all female martyrs. For Murphy, Chechen female suicide terrorism has lacked the element of spontaneity typical for revenge and on the contrary has been characterized by effective organization and recruitment.42 In this sense, Murphy returns to his top-down explanation. Murphy’s conclusion about the personal motivations of Chechen female suicide bombers however remains unsatisfactory. He summarizes that there is no single profile of a female terrorist because their characteristics as well as reasons for becoming martyrs differ, though the devotion to Wahhabism is the most common connection between them according to Murphy.43 This statement offers little insight into the emergence of Chechen female terrorists on the personal level. With respect to the role of religion in inducing female martyrdom, Anne Speckhard and Khapta Akhmedova argue that it was the lack of indigenous religiosity that contributed to receptiveness of women to the militant Wahhabi ideology.44 They reason that religion could act as a mechanism to deal with personal loss and trauma, but the absence of personal religious devotion leads to channeling their grievances through other, often more violent means.45 Departing from this framework, they determine the “lethal mix” that gives 42 Ibid., 213-214. 43 Ibid., 215-216. 44 Speckhard and Akhmedova, “Black Widows and Beyond,” 111. 45 Ibid., 109.
birth to female suicide bombers in Chechnya. The trauma of losing loved ones and desire for revenge combined with the militant Jihadist ideology convinced women of the righteousness of bloody revenge. The presence of a group that trained and equipped them added the necessary opportunity for women to become suicide bombers.46 Speckhard and Akhmedova’s argument is therefore more effective than Murphy’s, because they combine the personal with the organizational factors, thus accounting for both willingness and opportunity for women to engage in suicide terrorism. Speckhard and Akhmedova clearly outline the causal link that leads desperate women to participate in Jihad and list the advantages that draw non-religious individuals to fall for the “militant jihadist [sic] ideology as psychological first aid.” 47 The ideology offers a feeling of brotherhood, or in this case sisterhood, after family members have been lost. It restores the sense of clarity, order, and purpose in life and also provides the means to overcome survivor guilt and to achieve self-empowerment through revenge on a wider group. Lastly, the ideology promises the reunion with loved ones in paradise.48 Their assessment has a powerful appeal due to its psychological grounding and thorough empirical analysis of Chechen female suicide bombers. It effectively lays out why individuals turn to a militant ideology when indigenous religion to comfort trauma and to provide a sense of family and order is absent. However, it remains unclear why these women accept the ideas of selfsacrifice and revenge on a wider group of civilians. Speckhard and Akhmedova’s assertion that women become suicide bombers because they have fewer options than men should they wish to participate in the struggle is not a convincing explanation.49 Hughes’s analysis focuses on high-level politics of the Russo-Chechen conflict and pays relatively little attention to other social actors. Yet, he 46 47 48 49
Ibid, 113-115. Ibid., 115. Ibid., 115-116 Ibid., 110.
accounts for suicide terrorism and disproportionate female participation in it since 2000. He points out that the discourse of “black widows,” which was created by the Russian media in relation to the Dubrovka Theater siege, leads many outsiders to believe that the principal motivation of female suicide terrorists is personal loss of male relatives in the war. In this sense, the studies of Chechen suicide terrorism have genderized the issue.50 In contrast, Hughes seeks to look beyond the personal and insists that “[a]ny explanation for suicide bombing which stresses the personal motivations oversimplifies the complex mix of the personal, political, and religious elements involved in such acts of resistance.”51 Although left unelaborated, his assertion lays the framework for a comprehensive explanation allowing for inclusion of a variety factors. Hughes’s approach thus has significant explanatory potential, though it does not suggest any additional factors that lead women to become suicide terrorists. Additional elements that contribute to the phenomenon of female suicide terrorism in Chechnya have received only marginal attention in the prevalent discourse. Firstly, the proliferation of violence in Chechnya since the early 1990s paved the way for women to engage in violence, terrorism, and eventually suicide terrorism. Murphy extensively describes the ways in which fighting and bloodshed became a part of daily life of Chechen women. On a regular basis they encountered widespread violence, committed mostly by Russian soldiers but occasionally also by the Chechen rebels.52 It can be argued that violence was integrated into the society and it became largely impossible for an individual not to be involved in the fighting in one way or another. Some women actively participated in the struggle and committed acts of violence, while others hid the rebels in their homes and helped them materially or with their labor. Further, women and girls were frequently the target 50 Hughes, Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad, 151. 51 Ibid., 152. 52 Murphy, Allah’s Angels, chapter 2.
of disappearances and abductions during the Russo-Chechen wars.53 Moreover, beginning after the first female suicide attack in 2000, some Russian soldiers started to shoot women who physically resisted them.54 The Russian soldiers who stormed the Dubrovka Theater expressed in the documentary Terror in Moscow that all the Chechen hostagetakers were enemies to them regardless of gender.55 Therefore, women have entered into the conflict as both victims and perpetrators of violence and their eventual involvement in suicide terrorism can be seen as an escalation of their violent role as the conflict itself progressed. While this account has inadequate explanatory power for the motivations of individual women to become suicide bombers, it helps to set the framework in which their decision-making process takes place. A personal connection to the recruiter or the organization is an important factor contributing to women’s decisions to become suicide terrorists, and this applies to the Dubrovka Theater siege in particular. Speckhard and Akhmedova included the variable of “networked recruitment” in their analysis of Chechen female suicide bombers. For them, recruitment through family members and close ties alone did not appear to be a determinant of female action but enhanced the likelihood of some females becoming suicide bombers when the other key factors, described earlier in this paper, were present. For instance, four female hostagetakers in the Dubrovka Theater had a personal connection to Rustam Ganiyev and two of these women were sisters.56 The cousin of the field commander Arbi Barayev was the first female Chechen suicide bomber in June 2000. After he was killed, his nephew Movsar led the Dubrovka Theater attack that also involved Arbi’s widow as one of the suicide bombers.57 Incidentally, Murphy’s detailed 53 Ibid., 67. 54 Ibid., 65. 55 Struckman, “The Veiled Women and Masked Men,” 350 56 Speckhard and Akhmedova, “Black Widows and Beyond,” 112-113. 57 Hughes, Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad, 152.
account of the Dubrovka Theater suicide bombers’ backgrounds shows that several of them had married into militant Wahhabi families. He also identifies three women that were key actors in the recruitment of girls for the mission and suggests that many of the involved women knew each other and that recruitment went along the lines of acquaintance.58 The assertion can be made that individuals are more prone to engage in suicide terrorism when someone is involved whose judgment they trust. Murphy’s observation that at least two girls were sold by their father or brother to the Dubrovka Theater mission and obeyed these familial authorities supports this hypothesis.59 Thus, examining the militant Wahhabi recruitment networks and the role of personal ties in the decision of women to become suicide terrorists will aid the efforts to explain the phenomenon in Chechnya and in the Dubrovka Theater siege in particular. Nevertheless, the two additional factors developed in this paper still seem insufficient to fully explain the involvement of Chechen women in suicide bombing. Even when two women face the same conditions in terms of the political, religious, personal, and other factors mentioned in this paper, they may still make diverging decisions regarding whether or not to become a suicide bomber. A third potential factor this paper suggests therefore constitutes personal psychological traits and individual circumstances that are very difficult if not impossible to capture as one single variable applicable to all cases. It can be argued that all personal circumstances and personality traits of female suicide bombers are never fully known to the researcher who examines them. In the case of successful suicide bombers, he or she must rely on secondhand accounts of relatives and dispatchers, statements made by the suicide bombers before their death, and media coverage. Even when interviews are conducted with unsuccessful suicide bombers after the failed act, their informational value is limited by what the interviewee is willing to disclose 58 Murphy, Allah’s Angels, 146-161. 59 Ibid., 155-156.
about themselves and by the kind of questions the researcher poses. Therefore, space must be allowed for factors specific to each individual in examining the phenomenon of female suicide bombers in Chechnya. Although the psychological dimension emphasizes the uniqueness of each case as every individual’s circumstances and personality differ, a generalizable implication can be drawn. Speckhard et al. bring to light the analysis of Jerrold Post et al. who proposed that after being recruited and indoctrinated, suicide terrorists essentially merge with the organization. They lose individual ideas and decision-making and appear unable to distinguish between personal goals and those of the organization. The common goals and attitudes of the group members further perpetuate these beliefs and individuals eventually cease to have the sense of personal responsibility for the actions of the group.60 While the initial trigger that induces women to join a terrorist group must be sought elsewhere, this analysis can be useful in tracking the psychological development from a questioning new recruit to a determined and unquestioning suicide bomber. The existing literature about Chechen female suicide bombers that sets out to explain the phenomenon generally leaves unanswered the question of why not all women facing the same conditions become suicide bombers. A great proportion of Chechen women have suffered through the war, lost relatives, been subjected to Wahhabism, and had the opportunity to join an organization that would equip and train them. Nevertheless, only some of them decide to engage in suicide terrorism. Murphy laid out his four-dimensional explanation and even gave accounts of women who chose alternative paths to suicide terrorism, but did not inquire into the determinants of Chechen female behavior. Likewise, Speckhard and Akhmedova described the “lethal mix” of factors that give rise to female suicide terrorism, but they failed to pay attention to the traumatized and vengeful Chechen 60 Speckhard et al., “Research Note,” 332.
women with access to organizational support, who did not carry out acts of martyrdom. This pressing issue needs to be accounted for in research about Chechen female participation in militant Jihad. With a substantial body of literature and possible factors at play, perhaps it is appropriate to approach the issue from a new angle and ask the question of what makes the majority of women, who face similar conditions as the martyrs, stay away from suicide terrorism. In conclusion, it is necessary to stress the need for further inquiry into female participation in the Dubrovka Theater siege and Chechen female suicide terrorism more broadly. The Chechen case carries great relevance due to the high proportion of suicide bombings that involve women. Similarly, the Dubrovka Theater siege has generated fruitful material for research, as a video tape of the action is available and interviews were conducted with the surviving hostages. Nevertheless, the limitations of the current approaches must be kept in mind and it is necessary to seek additional explanations and factors at play for the phenomenon. Murphy showed that most Chechen women in despair do not become suicide bombers. They strive to make ends meet, sell things to support their families, demonstrate entrepreneurship, are heavily involved in community service, march in protest of the war, and found organizations and movements to this end. Although others engage in criminal activity such as trafficking of babies, the picture Murphy paints is hopeful as an alternative to suicide terrorism.61 Unfortunately, the author does not attempt to determine why these women engage in the described activities as opposed to terrorism. The ultimate question of why only some women in the same political, religious, and personal settings become suicide bombers thus remains unanswered.
61 Murphy, Allahâ€™s Angels, chapter 8.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Banner, Francine. “Uncivil Wars: ‘Suicide Bomber Identity’ as a Product of Russo-Chechen Conflict.” Religion, State and Society, Vol. 34, No. 3 (2006): 215-253. Cunningham, Karla. “The Evolving Participation of Muslim Women in Palestine, Chechnya, and the Global Jihadi Movement.” In Female Terrorism and Militancy: Agency, Utility, and Organization, edited by Cindy D. Ness. London, New York: Routledge, 2008. Hughes, James. Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007. Murphy, Paul J. Allah’s Angels: Chechen Women in War. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2010. Ness, Cindy D. “In the Name of the Cause: Women’s Work in Secular and Religious Terrorism.” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 28, Iss. 5 (Sep/Oct 2005): 353-373. Nivat, Anne. “The Black Widows.” In Female Terrorism and Militancy: Agency, Utility, and Organization, edited by Cindy D. Ness. London, New York: Routledge, 2008. Skaine, Rosemarie. Female Suicide Bombers. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2006. Souleimanov, Emil. An Endless War: The Russian-Chechen Conflict in Perspective. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang GmbH, 2007. Speckhard, Anne and Khapta Akhmedova. “Black Widows and Beyond.” In Female Terrorism and Militancy: Agency, Utility, and Organization, edited by Cindy D. Ness. London, New York: Routledge, 2008. Speckhard, Anne et al. “Research Note: Observations of Suicidal Terrorists in Action.” Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 16, No. 2 (2004): 305-327. Struckman, Sara. “The Veiled Women and Masked Men of Chechnya: Documentaries, Violence Conflict, and Gender.” Journal of Communication Inquiry, Vol. 30, No. 4 (2006): 337-353. Tishkov, Valery. Chechnya: Life in a War-Torn Society. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
A Unified City: Images of Leningrad and Leningraders as Catalysts of Patriotism in Soviet Propaganda during World War II Elisa Penttilä
ating back to Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, which enabled the production of images in multiple copies,1 the poster has played an important role in forming public opinion, whether it has been produced for advertising, propaganda, or other purposes. Essentially, posters communicate ideas that are connected to the time of their publication2. It is therefore not surprising that posters reflect the values, expectations and needs of these times. This paper focuses on Vladimir Serov’s 1941 poster Everybody, rise to defend Leningrad (fig. 1). I argue that conditions of production dictated the poster’s execution, which draws on pre-established poster designs, and that its visual language produces a literal and visual image of a unified Leningrad, which served its function as patriotic war propaganda in mobilizing Leningraders against the enemy during the Siege of Leningrad. During the Russian civil war of 1917, Mayakovski called propaganda posters “flowers of the revolution”;3 for Polonsky, they were “more powerful that cannon and bullets”,4 “the best means for organizing collective psychology”.5 They “formed your mind for you, with their reiterated suggestions”.6 All these quotes date back to World War I. The war years witnessed the emergence of new kinds of posters through the need to mobilize the home front - this gave rise to the featuring of sociopolitical and economic themes with appeals to charity and patriotism.7 Later, in the 1920s and 1930s, the civil war’s heroic posters were replaced by posters focusing on 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Weill, L’affice dans le monde, 10. Barnicoat, A Concise History of Posters, 7. White, “The Art of the Political Poster,” 154. Ibid., 154. Hughes, “Communist Manifestoes.” White, “The Art of the Political Poster,” 154. Jahn, Patriotic culture in Russia, 63.
practical aspects of economic development and social issues such as the five-year plans, illiteracy and public health.8 During WWII poster production witnessed another peak,9 this time one very similar to that of WWI. Consumer advertisements were suspended and posters showed civilians of a total war how to grow food, conserve their supplies,10 and, one may add, they showed examples of mobilization in times of crisis.11 The posters of WWII thus draw on this tradition of poster production that was already present, but were adapted to the current needs, as we will see with Serov’s poster. Serov’s poster was published in 1941, as German troops had reached St. Petersburg and began the siege.12 Because of the pre-eminent National Socialist threat, poster production expanded: within a week of the June 1941 invasion by German troops, 5 posters had been produced and over 50 were in preparation. Motifs of the civil war posters were repeated13 to accelerate the process. Like D. S. Moor’s How have you Helped the Front (fig. 2), which took the design of his earlier poster Have You Enrolled as a Volunteer (fig. 3), Serov’s poster also made use of such pre-existing models: Apsit’s Stand Up for the Defense of Petrograd (fig. 4), made in a day while White leader Yudenich was approaching the city, served as a model for Everybody, rise to defend Leningrad.14 Serov’s Everybody, rise to defend Leningrad is a poster with a black-and-white illustration and a red text, “Все на защиту Ленинграда” (Everybody, rise to defend Leningrad), at the bottom of 8 White, “The Art of the Political Poster,” 157-158. 9 Ibid., 158. 10 Barnicoat, A Concise History of Posters, 242. 11 White, “The Art of the Political Poster,” 159. 12 White, The Bolshevik Poster, 29. 13 Ibid., 121-122. 14 Ibid., 29.
Figure 1. Vladimir Serov, Everybody, rise to defend Leningrad, 1941, 37.5 x 46.5 cm. Reproduced in Maria Lafont, Soviet posters: the Sergo Grigorian collection (Munich; London: Prestel, 2007), 89.
the image.15 This combination of an illustration and text reflects a tendency we see in poster art of the time: the shifting from advertising into more sophisticated combinations of word and image. The composition of the illustration presents four main figures on the foreground: a soldier, a marine, a male worker and a woman. The three male figures hold a knife bayonet rifle on their side; the woman wears a shoulder strap similar to the men, suggesting that she too is in possession of a weapon. They are all depicted in the same position, with the rifle on their right side and their upper bodies leaning forward. In the background, a sea of faces and hats stretches out until pipes of factories and the silhouettes of two churches rise up in the horizon. Furthermore, all four figures look strikingly similar: their facial expressions, with furrowed brows and concentrated, serious looks, are quasi-identical. This creates a sense of unity to the group: despite different clothing, they all look alike. Furthermore, this idea of unified Leningraders is emphasized with the portrayal of the female figure alongside the male figures. Only in the 1920s did artists start to depict women figures 15 Barnicoat, A Concise History of Posters, 148.
other than allegorical ones, such as woman workers and woman peasants, who built socialism along their male counterparts.16 Eventually, the woman worker became represented visually as a replica of the male worker,17 here illustrated by the similar facial expressions. Thus, the poster portrays Leningrad as a city front, where distinctions between front and rear, and soldier and civilian, disappeared in order to depict one unified civilian population of heroic defenders. Berggolts’ words from August 1941 echo this effect: “Remember, fellow Leningrader, that you’re on the front, that you’re a warrior…”18- the concentrated facial expressions of the main figures, their arrangement to a line, as well as their arms recall a front of soldiers, ready to confront their enemy in front of their city. This message was also present in other media: radio and newspapers recruited Leningraders to become heroic defenders of the city front;19 posters sought to do the same by producing simple, immediately leg-
16 17 18 49. 19
Bonnell, “The Representation of Women,” 269-270. Ibid., 281. Kirschenbaum, The Legacy of the Siege of Leningrad, Ibid., 2.
Figure 2. D. S. Moor, How have you Helped the Front?, colored lithograph, 1941, 102 x 69 cm. Reproduced in Stephen White, The Bolshevik poster, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 122.
ible images to mobilize the masses.20 In order to achieve a legible, simple and clear image, Serov’s poster makes use of a naturalistic style in the illustration. Lines are not accentuated, and rather than taking a graphic approach, the illustration makes use of broad, quickly drawn lines. This style echoes Socialist Realism, which by 1930s had been affirmed as the official style of posters21 - especially during WWII, the Soviet Union pursued the production of heroic posters in a naturalistic style.22 Realistic depictions had a direct emotional appeal,23 and since the poster’s ultimate aim was the appeal to the people, this style was highly appropriate. This naturalistic look enabled the figures to be seen as heroic, because their 20 21 22 23
Weill, L’affiche dans le monde, 263. Hughes, “Communist Mainfestoes”. Barnicoat, A Concise History of Posters, 263. Barnicoat, A Concise History of Posters, 263.
realistic look made it more likely for them to act as role models for the viewer. On the other hand, this style could be the result of a tight schedule of production: as during WWI,24 it seems likely that also during WWII the posters had to be prepared in a few days. In addition to style, the use of color in the poster is very characteristic of posters produced during the war: the speed of production also dictated the use of color, and more than three colors could not be used but in exceptional cases.25 The text is highlighted by the use of the red color, and thus catches the eye. The illustration, though blackand-white only, is rendered lively with the use of light and shadow on the figures’ faces, and by emphasizing the front figures by using more black to define their garments, and leaving the background lighter grey. However, using contrasting colors and simple, legible designs was not only dictated by the conditions of production: it was also effective as a tool for reaching the viewers. Artists communicated their ideas through a simple style, because they gave the poster an immediate appeal.26 A straightforward design reached the public better than a complicated one;27 thus, this type of design was a conscious choice of the artist in line with the poster’s ultimate goal. Finally, the background of the poster also needs to be analyzed, because the elements found in the skyline of the city act as symbols of the whole city and its inhabitants. It was important for a poster to find a silhouette that is expressive: a symbol, which by its mere appearance could draw attention to itself and influence the viewer.28 In Serov’s poster, the silhouettes of the cupola of the Isaac Church and the spire of the Peter and Paul Cathedral act as metonymies for the whole city of Leningrad. Both found on the shores of the Neva river, the Peter and Paul Cathedral across from the 24 25 26 27 28
White, The Bolshevik Poster, 124. White, The Bolshevik Poster, 124. Barnicoat, A Concise History of Posters, 139. Ibid., 192. Ibid., 49.
Winter Palace and the Isaac Church only a few hundred meters south, these two buildings would have been known by all Leningraders because of their tops that rise higher than any other building in the city. The factories in the background act as symbols of the economic power of Leningrad, but they also take on further symbolic meaning as the enablers of the city’s battle: during the siege, women were called to work in factories, because men were at the front and factories were deprived of much needed work power.29 Since the beginning of the war, an effort was made to call for civilians to support the front and to engage in work in factories.30 Moreover, there is a direct relationship between the army and industrial production31 - women were needed, since the army could not survive if industrial production did not continue. Thus, the female figure has her place at the unified front of Leningraders, in which women played a vital role as the continuers of men’s work. Therefore, in Everybody, rise to defend Leningrad, Serov constructs a poster that emphasizes the city of Leningrad as the common place for all its inhabitants, and by utilizing enigmatic buildings of Leningrad as a metonymy for the whole city evokes an image of a unified city. Moreover, the four figures on the foreground seem to stand for the whole population of Leningrad, since they represent different social spheres: the military men, the workers, and the women. Importantly, the text attains the same goal: by addressing Leningraders as ‘everybody’, rather than ‘men and women’, the text groups Leningraders together, just like the unified front of people of different sexes and occupations in the illustration does. This type of patriotic propaganda—one with a strong attachment to a specific place, such as the city of Leningrad—further stressed that the war was close to home, and that every citizen need-
29 Kirschenbaum, The Legacy of the Siege of Leningrad, 43. 30 Weill, L’affiche dans le monde, 263. 31 Ibid., 295.
Figure 3. D. S. Moor, Have You Enrolled as a Volunteer?, two coloured lithograph, 1920, 106 x 71 cm. Reproduced in Stephen White, The Bolshevik poster, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 49.
ed to make an effort to protect the city.32 A great deal of cultural and national heritage was attached to the city of Leningrad: formerly called St. Petersburg and Petrograd, it was the city of empresses Elizabeth and Catherine, and of Czars33 - making it evident why Leningraders saw their city as the symbolic center of the nation.34 The city was also of strategic importance to Russia: its geographical location at the mouth of the Neva river, its role as a political, cultural, economical centre, and symbol of the 1917 revolution, were all important characteristics of the city.35 Indeed, this symbolic and strategic significance was the reason for Hitler’s conviction that the city’s capture was vital for the 32 48. 33 34 33. 35
Kirschenbaum, The Legacy of the Siege of Leningrad, Glantz, The Siege of Leningrad, 12. Kirschenbaum, The Legacy of the Siege of Leningrad, Glantz, The Siege of Leningrad, 11.
Figure 4. A. Apsit, Stand Up for the Defense of Petrograd, black and white lithograph, 1919, 70 x 104 cm. Reproduced in Stephen White, The Bolshevik poster, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 29.
success of invading the whole country.36 It is therefore not surprising that Serov’s poster unifies Leningrad’s citizens behind their city: in their hands were not only their homes and families, but possibly the fate of the whole Soviet Union. Seeing Serov’s poster, Leningraders would have understood the clear message, because of the important role Leningrad continued to play in the history of the USSR. In order to communicate this message to the public, Serov’s poster design had to correspond to the general expectations of posters of the time. These included that the content of a poster should be understandable without any text, the subject concrete, the style unambiguous and the text short, easily memorizable and convincing:37 the artist could not assume that viewers would read it or look at it for longer than a few seconds.38 These guidelines are indeed followed with precision: the figures are clearly articulated from the background, and they form, with the background elements, a unified image that expresses the meaning of the text 36 Ibid., 14. 37 White, The Bolshevik Poster, 120. 38 Barnicoat, A Concise History of Posters, 193.
visually. Thus, the text and the image compliment each other in that they enforce each other’s message; however, by seeing the illustration alone, one can derive from it the same meaning. This was necessary for the nature of the poster—people would quickly pass by them in trains, schools, factories, and on the streets;39 therefore, the entire message discussed above needed to be captured with only one quick glance. Also, the independence of the image was essential, because a large part of the population was illiterate, and thus in reaching these people, the artist would have to rely on the image itself as the medium of communication.40 Since Serov’s poster sought to communicate contemporary patriotic ideas to an immediate audience, his poster worked within the very moment of its production. Its aims were linked to the present moment, and not to a forthcoming one, which was the case in Constructivist posters of the time, with Klucis as one of their most influential artists,41 that looked to the (better) future.42 In need of civilian 39 40 41 42
Lafont, Soviet Posters, 8. White, “The Art of the Political Poster,” 154. Lafont, Soviet Posters, 8. Margolin, “Constructivism and the Modern Poster,”
support in the presence of an approaching enemy, there was no space, nor time, for the portrayal of a glorious victory or an ideal future - mobilizing the population of the city was more important. Furthermore, unlike WWI poster symbols that were not connected to the content of the event,43 Serovâ€™s symbols are strongly connected to Leningrad, the subject and the stage of the poster, which calls further attention to the posterâ€™s function as propaganda. Indeed, it seems that the most influential Soviet posters were produced at times of threat from external forces, and at times of unparalleled national need.44 However, in a totalitarian state, the image shown to the public at these times was not necessarily a mirror, like it seemed, but a construction on how the state wanted its controlled subjects to see themselves:45 as cooperative subjects.46 Therefore, the aim of the poster was to communicate a feeling of unity to Leningraders, in order to make them respond to the patriotic call: whether it was from personal attachment to the city, or out of the concern over the future of the whole Soviet Union, Leningrad could not surrender, and thus the city needed all possible means to mobilize the people to this end.
28. 43 44 45 46
Jahn, Patriotic Culture in Russia, 65. White, The Bolshevik Poster, 130. Barnicoat, A Concise History of Posters, 256. Ibid., 184.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Barnicoat, John. A Concise History of Posters 1870-1970. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1972. Bonnell, Victoria E. “The Representation of Women in Early Soviet Political Art.” Russian Review 50, no. 3 (July 1991): 267-288. Glantz, David M. The Siege of Leningrad, 1941-1944: 900 Days of Terror. Staplehurst: Spellmount, 2001. Gough, Maria. “Back in the USSR: John Heartfield, Gustavs Klucis, and the Medium of Soviet Propaganda.” New German Critique 107, vol. 36, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 133-183. Hughes, Andrew S. “Communist Manifestoes; Soviet Propaganda Posters Idealized Present, Looked to Heroic Future.” South Bend Tribune, Sep 26, 2004. Accessed November 10, 2011. http:// search.proquest.com/docview/417253912?accountid=12339. Jahn, Hubertus. Patriotic Culture in Russia during World War I. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995. Kirschenbaum, Lisa A. The Legacy of the Siege of Leningrad, 1941-1995: Myth, Memories, and Monuments. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Lafont, Maria. Soviet Posters: the Sergo Grigorian Collection. Munich; London: Prestel, 2007. Margolin, Victor. “Constructivism and the Modern Poster.” Art Journal 44, no. 1 (Spring 1984): 28-32. Weill, Alain. L’affiche dans le monde. Paris: Somogy, 1984. White, Stephen. “The Art of the Political Poster.” In Russian Cultural Studies: An Introduction, edited by Catriona Kelly and David Shepherd, 154-162. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ———. The Bolshevik poster. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.
In Search of Nation: Ilya Repin and Nineteenth-Century Russian Realism Vanessa Baratta
t was once stated by the highly regarded Russian novelist, Ivan Turgenev, that art cannot exist without nationality.1 The Society for Itinerant Art Exhibitions, also known as the Wanderers, represents a critical moment in Russian art history, considered by critics as the definitive school of a truly Russian art practice as a result of their take on contemporary life in Russia during the 1860s-90s. Russian identity has always been a contentious issue; often defined by what it is not, or considered neither truly Russian nor European but fluctuating between the two.2 Following in the footsteps of many European artists of the later nineteenth century, the Wanderers turned toward realism and contemporary subject matter, rejecting traditional artistic practices of the Russian Academy which did not reflect the growing social and political issues developing within Tsarist Russia. Ilya Repin, a predominant member of the group, took up Turgenev’s view of a nationalistic art through his iconic paintings, Religious Procession in Kursk Province and They Did not Expect Him.3 The paintings reflect Repin’s desire to depict the current realities of Russia’s dualistic identity in post-Petrine Russia by returning to its origins in peasant culture and stressing contemporary political tensions. Although his works can be compared to other European Realists who explored similar themes, these revolutionary works were widely regarded as truly Russian, and stood apart from traditional Russian works. Through an in-depth analysis of Repin’s paintings, one can demonstrate how these artworks reject the academic demands of the period and pro1 Repin, “An Artist’s Notes,” 923. 2 Beraha, “Land: National History and Character.”. 3 The paintings were produced between 1880 and 1888. N.B Repin did not call his work nationalistic but was widely considered to be so as will be discussed later.
vide an insight into how Russian identity was being challenged and redefined at this time, in conjunction with the Populist movement which argued for the need to return to one’s ‘true Russianness.’ Artists like Repin and the Wanderers, through their paintings, reconciled issues of national identity by embracing Russia’s dualistic identity in their blending of European realist technique with national subject-matter. By the end of the nineteenth century, Repin’s work was no longer viewed as a reaction to social change, but rather was appreciated for its native qualities. After Peter the Great’s Europeanization, Russian art diversified from traditional icon and religious paintings toward a more intellectual European style.4 Like the European academies of art during the 18th century, it also stressed a neoclassical style and historical subject matter. David Jackson argues that along with a series of political and social reforms during the reign of Peter the Great, the formation of an institutionalized art school in Russia caused the shift from the venerated creation of icon paintings to a more secular and intellectual production of art. The goal was to align Russia with the rest of Europe and transform the ‘backward’ society into a European power.5 The academy became the central institution for this process by importing design and painting styles from France and Italy whose artistic practices were highly admired by the Tsar. Moreover, artists of the academy were considered employees of the state, meant to produce artwork according to court tastes rather than develop 4 Jackson, The Wanderers and Critical Realism, 7-8. 5 Ibid., 8. These reforms were meant to launch Russian society and politics into the European realm and assimilate Russia into Europe without recognition of its often multicultural ancestors that were usually not European. N.B It was only under Catherine the Great that an official Art Academy was founded.
any individual identity. Elizabeth Valkenier argues that the eventual uprising of the thirteen artists who formed the Wanderers was not a rejection of the artistic training the Academy provided them, but rather a rebellion against Tsar Nicholas I’s promotion of his own taste for neoclassicism which tended to repress artistic talent and individuality in favor of a mechanical production of bureaucratic art.6 There had been attempts to liberalize the arts with the acceptance of genre scenes in salon exhibitions; however, the root causes for the formation of the realist group reached beyond the academic sphere. Maureen Perrie’s critical account of the divergent nature of Russian identity within intellectual discourse in the mid-nineteenth century highlights two viewpoints, the Slavophile and the Westernized perspectives. While the state promoted a nation who saw the Tsar as father figure and protector of the land and people (a popular viewpoint among the peasantry), intellectuals returning from their studies abroad saw national identity differently. The Slavophile-Westernizer debates in the 1850s-60s were representative of the discourse on defining Russian identity in post-Petrine Russia. Slavophilism, an extreme form of nationalism, tended to idealize and romanticize Russian backwardness and viewed the peasantry as the only true surviving Russians. On the other hand, Westernizers believed that pre-Petrine Russia was an inferior and primitive form of society and that Russia, following the reforms, had progressed toward its natural civilized European path.7 This debate as well as the repressive nature of the Academy are the critical elements that allowed the Wanderers to emerge and be perceived as semi-political in nature during their formative years. Following the Wanderers’ departure from the Academy in protest over state-controlled subject matter, they set out to accomplish 6 Valkenier, Russian Realist Art, the State and Society, 6. She states that the rebellion of the Wanderers against the repressive system under Nicholas I was seen as having political weight because artistic practice was in essence a bureaucratic institution. 7 Perrie, “Narodnost,” 31-33.
clear goals for producing art that was not only for an elite audience but for the people as well. A document, written by the founding members Kramskoi and Ge, outlined the group’s goal to bring their art to the people and into the provinces so that everyone could learn about Russian art. In addition, they hoped to receive new patronage from the wealthy emerging bourgeois class, furthering their split from art made for state patronage.8 More importantly, the artists begin to use reality and contemporary life in Russia as their subject matter. Thus, the paintings by Repin discussed here should be viewed as representing a rejection of customary academic art practice and stemming from the social and political changes that took place within Russian society. The abolition of serfdom in 1861 was a critical moment in society, one which defined new ways of interaction between classes along with granting new freedoms for the peasantry that had not been available in the past.9 With this change, the peasant became a central feature in visual culture. Consequently, Repin, like many other prominent artists who joined the Itinerants, began to turn back toward the debates of the Slavophile movement as inspiration for his works. Repin, an admirer of literary writers such as Gogol and Tolstoy who tended to depict the peasantry as true Russians who had not lost their identities or virtues to European culture, drew inspiration from their writings.10 These new ideas in society played 8 Nesterova, The Itinerants, 14. Kramskoi and Ge were both prominent members of the Russian Academy but their paintings would eventually look toward representing Russian subjects that were often disliked and rejected by the Academy. 9 Between 1863-1870, when the Wanderers became an official association, an Artel was set up with the same members who left the Academy; however, it was not successful since it did not distinguish itself as a new school even though it did begin to depict genre scenes of the everyday similar to what European Realists were doing. 10 Decker, “Victorian Comment on Russian Realism.” While this source comments on how well received writers like Tolstoy and Gogol were among the bourgeois English, it is similar for the case of Repin who in countless personal accounts praises their work for maintaining real-
Figure 1. Ilya Repin, Religious Procession in Kursk Province, 1880-83, oil on canvas, 175 x 280 cm, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
into Repin’s belief that art should depict “truth, reality, modernity and national authenticity” and became the Itinerant ideal.11 Vladimir Stasov, a writer and critic, was an early promoter of realist art in Russia and argued for it to depict both the national and the popular spirit in painting so that Russian painting could be distinguished from other European schools.12 One way in which artists could distinguish their work was to turn to the peasantry who embodied all elements which would allow realism to become a symbol of nationalism according to these artists and critics. Upon his return to Russia following his academic training in France, Repin’s first works of the 1880s depicting contemporary Russian soist ideals of the true Russian. An example of a work that emphasized the naturalness of the peasantry was Tolstoy’s War and Peace. 11 Nesterova, The Itinerants, 17-18. 12 Valkenier, Russian Realist Art, the State and Society, 57.
ciety were critically acclaimed by critics and philosophers of the day. Repin was naturally drawn to the realist principles promoted by critics such as Chernyshevsky and Stasov, believing the depiction of reality, nature and life was critical in artistic production13. Religious Procession in Kursk Province, 1880-83 (Fig 1), is emblematic of the peasant culture. Repin and the realists drew from their experiences to depict what was natural and contemporary in society. The painting upon first glance is both overwhelming but awe-inspiring and requires the viewer to analyze all aspects of the work to capture the moment depicted. Repin’s composition is similar to a snapshot view and depicts a religious procession taking place in Kursk province. As Jackson points out, the painting is a panoramic cross-section of life in rural Russia where all levels of society are represented: the peasantry, the rural 13 Chernyshevsky, “The Aesthetic Relation of Art to Reality,” 388-394.
bourgeois, the local aristocracy, the clergy and the Cossack militia. The work was viewed as a harsh depiction of contemporary life unseen in previous artworks. The terrain is bleak and the mass of people was seen as ugly by critics. Many are disappearing at the picture’s edges, which furthers the illusion that the masses are moving towards the viewer with some even moving beyond the audience’s perspective. Yet, the image most importantly depicts the religious piety of the peasantry, a subject that distinctively shows the connection between local faith and Russian identity.14 In the foreground to the right, a large golden shrine stands out against the bleak landscape and is carried by peasants in their ‘Sunday best.’ The shrine housed a miracleworking icon that is being venerated by the procession; there are several votive offerings attached to the shrine as well. Behind these peasant men, two bourgeois women carry the icon’s empty box, Figure 1.2. Detail Ilya Repin, Religious Procession a distinctive role performed only by the wealthy. in Kursk Province, 1880-83, oil on canvas Even further behind, where the crowd parts, the 15 icon is carried by a disinterested local aristocrat who is safely guarded by a steward. Furthermore, a crowd bursting onto the scene on the left depicts a less ordered space; a crowd of ragged pilgrims and 14 Chulos, Converging Worlds, 5. poor peasants (Figure 1.1). Moving vertically in the painting, we are presented with the powerful Cossacks, members of the state, maintaining order by whipping men into complacency (Figure 1.2). The stark contrast between the loose kaftans, bast shoes and long beards of the peasantry and the ornate Europeanized dress of the aristocracy points to the distinctive differences between the newly created classes after 1861. 16 The social stratification represented in the procession is firmly based within a larger discourse taking place in Russian society which allowed for Repin’s painting to become emblematic of true Russianness. Religious Procession in Kursk Province is one in a series of paintings by Repin devoted to
Figure 1.1. Detail Ilya Repin, Religious Procession in Kursk Province, 1880-83, oil on canvas
15 Jackson, The Wanderers and Critical Realism, 43. 16 The bast shoes are iconic symbols of the Russian peasantry and Repin pays close attention to each rendering to emphasize the differences between their almost medieval-looking footwear in comparison to the black boots worn by the aristocracy
Figure 2. Ilya Repin, They Did Not Expect Him, 1884-1888, oil on canvas, 160.5 x 167.5 cm, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
a set of figures, Russian heroes per se, that took a prominent role in the Wanderers paintings. These newfound Russian heroes in part stemmed from the rising Populist Movement promoted by the intelligentsia, who felt that high society was disconnected from its roots more than ever in that period. Unlike the debates of the 1860s, the movement was much more extreme and politically charged; the intelligentsia went “to the people” in hopes of reconnecting with the peasantry and regaining their natural Russianness.17 While the populists had 17 Nesterova, The Itinerants, 76. The intelligentsia believed the rural classes retained a sense of wisdom and naturalness that had been lost to European ideals and tastes within high society. They often had a utopian view of the ‘patient masses’; however, they were often met with apprehension and even revolt. It is also important to point out that the notion of bringing art to the people was a misconception. It was mainly the rural elite who viewed these works, not the peasantry.
utopian views of the state of the peasantry, Repin knew firsthand of the hardships they faced. Reminiscent of Repin’s own peasant origins, the painting seems to portray a sympathetic view of their hardships, and shows what critics believed was a truthful depiction of the reality of peasant life. Repin’s realist use of thick and evident brushstrokes and earth-like tones emphasizes the peasantry who were viewed to be pious and closely linked to the land in true Russianness. Drawing from the peasantry and their cultural practices allowed Repin to subvert the popular conception of the masses and provide an authentic voice to the people.18 However, it would be wrong to assume the image was simply a truthful depiction rather than an image that played into the myths of the peasantry the intelligentsia had created.19 Chris Chulos’ in-depth account of 18 Jackson, The Wanderers and Critical Realism, 37 19 Ibid., 54-56. Jackson points out that Repin chooses
the myth of the peasant as devotedly religious is relevant in understanding the importance of Repin’s subject choice. The increase in religious pilgrimages among the rural classes tied them to a national identity that was linked to their faith in Orthodoxy and the mystical powers of icons, something seen as unspoiled by European values.20 When understanding Russian national identity, notions of religiosity play an important role. Religion had always been one of the crucial ways in which Tsarist rule was able to maintain control over the peasantry and shield them from the Europeanized reforms taking place that may have influenced them to seek their own freedoms. Chulos points out that after the reforms of the 1860s, provincial populist newspapers would often connect national identity to religious festivals and shrines as a way to draw the peasantry into the discussion about identity.21 Thus, depictions of the pious peasant, who was forced to endure and survive the harshness of life and the harshness of traveling with these processions, came to stand for true Russianness. By turning toward the faithful peasantry, the populists and realists created a new ideal of Russianness in society.22 Along with Repin’s depiction of the religious peasantry as being distinctively Russian, the next painting in his series addressed the political tensions of the period in They Did Not Expect Him, 1884-88 (figure 2). These two paintings produce a unique identity of Russian society. While they differ in subject-matter, they both depict changes within society that had long-lasting effects and challenged Tsarist censorship. Jackson and Valkenier stress that Tsarist Russia lacked political freedoms and thus any depiction of reality was a challenge to the state.23 Repin’s political subject shows a husband unexpectedly returning to his home where
his children, his wife, and mother are in shock and almost uncertain about his return. At first, it is unclear where he had been or why they are in such shock. The expressiveness of the man’s exhaustion and suffering in the final version of Repin’s work suggests he is back from political exile. Yet, the entire scene is ambiguous; no one seems happy or curious about his return. In fact, the tense-filled gaze between the man and his mother rising from her chair permeates the room. Jackson even proposes the scene to be of an unwanted and unwelcomed return.24 The only figure Repin depicts as excited to see the man is the boy at the table whose visual expression is contrasted with the young girl’s hesitation, suggesting that she has forgotten him.25 In Nesterova’s reading of the work, she argues that the image provides clues to the wider social-historical context of the scene. She believes it is a reflection on the coronation of Alexander III the previous year that marked the release of various political offenders from exile.26 Moreover, there are specific images within the work that allow one to decipher the contemporaneity of the scene taking place. This is evidently an educated-class home in which an engraving of Carl von Steuben’s Golgotha alludes to notions of sacrifice. To the right of it is an image of Nekrasov, a colleague of the exiled Chernyshevsky and an image of the assassinated Alexander II.27 Thus, Repin has depicted a family who may have suffered firsthand from the heightened terrorist acts of the period; many also viewed the work as an interpretation of Christian motifs that were often paralleled with political heroes who came to stand for the returning prodigal son.28 The entire scene would have been easily understood by audiences of the time who were well aware of the extreme events taking place in society, most notably culmi-
to not depict the beggars or peasantry who had hideous afflictions; in a way, it can thus be debated that he has idealized the scene. 20 Chulos, Converging Worlds, 66-67. 21 Ibid., 5. 22 Ibid., 47. 23 Valkenier, Russian Realist Art, the State and Society, 69; Jackson, The Wanderers and Critical Realism, 57.
24 Jackson, The Wanderers and Critical Realism, 68. 25 Valkenier, Russian Realist Art, the State and Society, 92. 26 Nesterova, The Itinerants, 76. 27 Ibid., 76. Arguments for it being an upper class home include the fact that the protagonists are in European dress and the presence of a maid at the door. 28 Nesterova, The Itinerants, 78.
nating in the assassination of Alexander II. Jackson states that the assassination caused more political repression and increased censorship among the press.29 Therefore, Repin’s representation of such a contentious issue exemplifies how his works challenge the status quo of appropriate subject-matter that was vital in establishing a truly Russian identity within art. The painting is a depiction of lost political ideals, of the suffering and uneasiness felt by each family member in regard to their reunion. It is also a depiction of the price they have paid for the man’s radical political views. Repin’s political painting barely escaped censorship for his bold choice in subject, but was successful at conveying the effects of political repression to a vast audience who perhaps would have felt deeply for this family in crisis. Conservative critics greatly opposed the work, arguing that the space represented was “unattractive, untidy and comfortless, and the children scrofulous and emaciated.”30 However, critics who championed Repin’s work believed it depicted a topic that was inherently Russian and gave the public a less propagandistic commentary on current events that would have been over-idealized or hidden behind censorship. By the end of the 1880s, both of these paintings by Repin became subsumed within the traditional discourse of art, which removed their political identities and transformed them into the well-established foundation of a truly Russian school of art. Repin came to stand for an exemplary Russian artist and his works became the type of subjects a true Russian artist should depict. Yet while they became successful depictions of Russia’s uniqueness, one tends to forget that they were conceived in politically turbulent times when Russian identity and personal freedoms were being challenged and redefined. It is easily overlooked that Repin constructed these paintings to depict a certain view of contemporary Russian life by using the long29 Jackson, The Wanderers and Critical Realism, 64. 30 Ibid., 70. The quote is an English translation of a Russian critic in 1884. It was signed as Rectus, C, though the exact identity of the critic remains unknown.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Beraha, Laura. “Land: National History and Character.” Lecture, Russia’s Eternal Questions, McGill University, September 11, 2009. Chernyshevsky, Nikolai. “The Aesthetic Relation of Art to Reality.” In Art in Theory 1815-1900, edited by Charles Harrison, Paul Wood, and Jason Gaiger, 388-394. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1998. Chulos, Chris J. Converging Worlds: Religion and Community in Peasant Russia 1861-1917. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2003. Decker, Clarence. “Victorian Comment on Russian Realism.” PMLA 52, no. 2 (June 1937): 542-549. Jackson, David. The Wanderers and Critical Realism in Nineteenth-century Russian Painting. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2006. Kramskoy, Ivan Nikolayevich. “The Destiny of Russian Art.” In Art in Theory 1815-1900, edited by Charles Harrison, Paul Wood, and Jason Gaiger, 522-525. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1998. Lord, Louis E. “A Russian Painter of the Nineteenth-Century, Elyas Repin.” Art Bulletin 2, no. 4 (June 1920): 213-219. Moon, David. “Chapter 7: Protest.” In The Russian Peasantry 1600-1930, 237-281. London and New York: Addison Wesley Longman Limited, 1999. Nesterova, Elena. The Itinerants: The Masters of Russian Realism. St Petersburg: Aurora Art Publishers, 1996. Perrie, Maureen. “Narodnost: Notions of National Identity.” In Constructing Russian Culture in the Age of Revolution 1881-1940, edited by Catriona Kelly and David Shepherd, 28-36. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Repin, Ilya. “An Artist’s Notes and Letter to Diaghilev.” In Art in Theory 1815-1900, edited by Charles Harrison, Paul Wood, and Jason Gaiger, 923-924. Oxford:Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1998. Valkenier, Elizabeth. Russian Realist Art, the State and Society: The Peredvizhniki and their Tradition. Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1977.
Magic at the Tsar’s Court: Witchcraft and the State in 17th Century Russia Julie Leighton
he Russian experience is typically the outlier in the European model, and this was particularly the case in the early modern period. The country employed a different governmental structure, hosted an extreme regional variation in level of state presence and interference, subsisted largely on an agrarian economic system, established Orthodoxy over Catholicism, and made minimal scientific progress, all of which contributed to a Russia that looked distinctly different than its Western European counterparts. Despite these seemingly fundamental differences and lack of cultural synchronicity, both Russia and Western Europe simultaneously engaged in witchcraft-related persecutions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. How did this happen? In her analysis of the European witch crisis, Christina Larner identifies commonalities in the systems that experienced witch hysteria. She argues that while both societies had similar feudal economies, and while there were cultural precedents in both societies for a malefic witch figure, the greatest commonality was a perceived threat to the status quo caused by governmental and church expansion, the rise of the nation-state, changes in legal organization, or the rise of personal religions.1 Despite the similar time-frames and contexts, the Russian witch movement contrasts sharply with the Western European model in that the majority of those persecuted were men. In this paper, I will examine why the Russian model favored male victimization by analyzing the concept and application of magic through the health and hexing industries, the reasons behind this state-driven hysteria, the emergence and experience of the witch trial and conclude with an analysis of the implanted societal constructs that
had largely protected women from persecution within Russia. Supernatural elements were fully integrated into and accepted in Russian culture. Remnants of a shamanistic religious tradition combined with a limited scientific knowledge to provide a sense of order and explanation under the heading of magic. As described by W.F. Ryan, the difficulty in the Russian case is the limited division or differentiation between branches of magic. In medieval Russia, there was no theological discussion of licit or illicit magical practices, as is evidenced by the lack of terminological distinction between the concepts of “magic,” “sorcery,” and “witchcraft.” The differentiation between “natural” and “demonic” magic, both incorporated into Western European culture, was not present in the Russian model. The first hint of linking magic to heresy appears in the seventeenth-century reign of Tsar Fedor Alekseevich, who prosecuted practitioners of both natural and demonic magic by burning. Prior to state regulation, dabblers in the occult were categorized as either “healers” or “hexers”.2 Russian medical practices were grounded in the belief that disease stemmed from either magical or material interference. In Russell Zguta’s article, entitled Witchcraft and Medicine in Pre-Petrine Russia, he explains that, because the source of internal ailments could not be visually determined, they were usually attributed to a supernatural intrusion, including demonic possession, displeasure of the gods, the evil eye, or malefic witchcraft. If the problem proved to be the result of magical interference, the victim was sent to the local healer. Usually a woman, the primary task of this individual was to determine if the ailment had been brought on by evil intentions. Diagnosing the source of the
1 Kivelson, “Through the Prism,” 79.
2 Ryan, The Bathhouse at Midnight, 69.
disorder was done by interpreting shapes on wax casts, examining ashes and mirrors, or analyzing card patterns. Following diagnosis, the healer would propose a treatment plan. These treatments, which varied by regions, included processes such as the use of loud noise to frighten the demons, exorcism, passing the patient through a split oak or linden tree, burning stands of the patient’s hair, using a human effigy of dough to transfer the disease from the patient, protective amulets, or extracting the pathogen through fumigation.3 One of the most popular cures required the patient to bathe in a lake during a thunderstorm on the first day after the new moon. The highest level of treatment and prevention occurred through the use of the incantation, or a verbal formula created to counter a specific malefic influence. Kivelson explains that the Russian incantation was unique for its reliance on the power of analogy rather than on the summoning of divine intervention which was favored in the Western model.4 Female healers were also called upon for their knowledge and preservation of popular medicinal techniques, particularly on issues of female anatomy and reproduction. Frequently functioning as a kind of obstetrician, these women were trained as midwives, were able to provide abortions, and had developed theories on the treatment of female barrenness (cured by ingesting an umbilical cord or placenta).5 Apart from their medical expertise, healers were much in demand for their knowledge of popular magic, particularly of love potions.6 These individuals’ monopoly over medical and magical knowledge placed them in constant demand. While soliciting their know-how could be the result of innocent motives, it could also take on a more sinister dimension. The power to curse
or hex, known as porcha, was available through the hiring of the local witch or warlock. This malignant force would be sent to its victim by wind, water, or through the contamination of their food. Examples of porcha as described by Zguta include the curses of eternal hiccoughs, tumor growth, and alcoholism.7 Kivelson has examined the arsenal of ingredients that these spells and remedies were derived from and has concluded that for the most part they relied on simple household items, namely salt, kerchiefs, garlic, ashes, or common weeds or plants. Only rarely were more exotic ingredients such as fish teeth, particularly those of eel or carp, utilized.8 The expansion of the state and religious structures in the early modern period made it necessary for a more clear definition of the seemingly omnipresent concept of ‘witch’.9 The coinciding interests of the church, which was eager to obliterate witchcraft as a remnant of paganism, and of the state, which was eager to assert its authority, resulted in the witch persecution that began in the fifteenth century and peaked in the seventeenth century under Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich.10 The first step on the road to persecution, aiming to heighten the public’s awareness of the problem, was achieved by defining the ‘witch’. According to Kivelson, the term ‘witch’ was applied to anyone who engaged in hexing or porcha.11 Next, the witches’ physicality needed to be described. Departing from the Western tradition linking grotesqueness with the occult, the Russian witch could be young, married, or a parent.12 After determining who could be a witch, the state began attributing natural calamities, health problems, and social disasters to occult practitioners, while simultaneously circulating and popularizing witch myths. The link between natural calamities and
3 Zguta, “Witchcraft and Medicine”. 4 Kivelson, “Through the Prism,” 74. 5 Pushkareva, “Women in the Medieval Russian Family,” 40. 6 Kivelson, “Male Witches,” 610.
7 Zguta, “Witchcraft and Medicine,” 443-446. 8 Kivelson, “Male Witches,” 610-11. 9 Kivelson, “Through the Prism,” 72. 10 Kivelson, “Male Witches,” 608. 11 Kivelson, “Patrolling the Boundaries,” 303. 12 Ryan, The Bathhouse at Midnight, 80.
witch hunts is notable within the Russian context.13 Between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, Russia experienced multiple severe droughts. Traditionally believed to be in control of rainfall, witches were thus accused of causing such dry periods by stealing the rain. Ryan also reports that in both northern Russia and in the Ukraine witches were believed to be responsible for the vanishing moon during eclipses.14 Health problems such as hernias and impotence were also commonly attributed to witchcraft.15 According to Samuel Collins, the physician of Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich, it was believed that hostile magic at a wedding ceremony would cause impotence. Collins states that this kind of debilitating witchcraft was common at upper-class weddings, and could be reversed by a “white witch”.16 In order to prevent the casting of this kind of enchantment, it became customary for couples to engage a sorcerer to officiate alongside the priest at weddings.17 Witchcraft was further frequently attributed to negative developments in the field of high politics. Enchantments, or the interference of witches, were believed to be involved in situations hanging ranging from the tsar’s choice of an unlikely bride, to the difficulty or inability of that bride to conceive, to the problem of an unpopular succession.18 The witch, a common feature of Slavic folklore, is regularly portrayed as the source of evil befalling children. Possibly the most notable caricature of this entity, babayaga, was created to represent a female demon with an ancient lineage of child-stealing and consuming. This was echoed by the Eastern Siberian tradition which attributed miscarriages to the work of witches who were believed to steal and eat the embryos.19 Although 13 14 15 16 17 18
Zguta, “Witchcraft Trials,”1189. Ryan, The Bathhouse at Midnight, 81. Kivelson, “Through the Prism,” 81. Ryan, The Bathhouse at Midnight, 79. Kivelson, “Patrolling the Boundaries,” 314. Kivelson, “Male Witches,” 608. 19 Ryan, The Bathhouse at Midnight, 79-81.
Slavic culture did allow for the vilification of the witch, they were not conceived as an instrument of the devil, capable of flight, or privy to engagement in orgiastic rituals or participating in sabbats.20 One of the most significant contrasts between the Russian situation and the Western European one is the speculation over the motives of ‘the witch’. While in Western Europe the witch was understood to be engaged in a demonic magic and was seeking to undermine and eventually overturn society by partnering with the devil, witches in the Russian model were feared because of their perceived membership in a larger group of magical beings that could easily topple the society at a whim. Seeking to annihilate the threat that a network of magical beings posed, Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich began to codify tracts for the elimination of witches and witchcraft subscribers in 1648. Proposing that practicing witches should be beaten and exiled, Aleksei began his war on witchcraft with an appeal to the public to submit denunciations.21 Complying with this dictate indicated a fear of retribution by the local magical authority or safety for their community.22 In the Russian model, witchcraft accusations fell under the realm of state rather than church control. Once the suspected witch was in the state’s possession, an interrogation process was initiated. The official list of inquisitorial questions featured queries designed to reveal a greater network of witches, focusing on the identity of the initial teacher of the craft, who they themselves had taught, who their accomplices were, and the methods of magic they used. Under the duress of torture methods such as water trials, the rack, and scorching with hot irons or flames, admitting the presence of a greater magical network was almost inevitable for the accused.23 Following interrogation, the suspected witch was brought to trial, 20 21 22 23
Kivelson, “Male Witches,” 611. Ibid. Kivelson, “Through the Prism,” 73. Kivelson, “Through the Prism,” 73.
where they would be accused by witnesses testifying that they had been a victim of the witch’s porcha.24 One of the most notorious demonstrations of the Russian witch experience occurred in 1657 at Lukh. Thought to be the largest and deadliest of these seventeenth-century incidents, the event began when a number of women began spontaneously shrieking, a sign of spirit possession known as klikushestvo. These women had attributed their ailments to a bewitchment cast by a few of their fellows, including Tereshka and Olenka Malakurov, Igoshka and Ianka Salautin, and Feka Kuzmin. Following an appeal by the town fathers to the local governor, an investigation was initiated and the suspected individuals were tortured and all admitted their involvement in the cursing of the local women and of their knowledge of witchcraft. Following their confession, they were persecuted as witches and Tereshka Malakurov and Ianka Salautin were beheaded, while Olenka Malakurov was buried alive.25 Russia presents a notable exception compared to other countries’ witch hunts in that the majority of those persecuted were men rather than women. Kivelson states that the ratio of male to female witches in seventeenth-century Muscovy was seven to three, a sharp contrast to the Western European model where women represented the majority of persons accused of witchcraft. She goes on to argue that of the forty-three Russian women accused, more than one-third confessed practicing witchcraft, but denied any evil intent. Those that did admit to harmful objectives stated being motivated by a desire for retribution or autonomy – in contrast to the male suspects, who claimed no such intentions.26 Why were Russian women persecuted less than their Western counterparts? Kivelson has argued that the development and advancement of Western European society allowed for the erosion 24 Zguta, “Witchcraft and Medicine,” 441. 25 Levack, The Witchcraft Sourcebook. 26 Kivelson, “Through the Prism,” 67.
of traditional social values and constructs; women were emancipating and enjoying unprecedented amounts of independence and the right to individual determination. They were now emerging as a direct threat to their male counterparts. This was not the case for Russian women. Beginning in 1649, institutionalized enserfment ensured that women were tied to the home and reinforced their traditional roles of mothers and caretakers. In addition, the limited mobility enforced by this legislation helped to reaffirm masculine dominance.27 Therefore, unlike the Western trials which were orchestrated in the desperate attempt to demonstrate and reinforce masculine supremacy, the Russian trials were designed in an effort to eliminate individuals on the margins of society. Order and a sense of belonging were fundamental aspects of the Russian experience and these elements were threatened by the presence of outcasts, vagrants, and migrants.28 Because enserfment tied women to the home, there was little opportunity for them to occupy any of these socially threatening positions, and therefore they were rarely persecuted. In conclusion, the predominant persecution of males in the Russian witch experience is a result of the implantation of legislation that dictated the maintenance of traditional constructs. The Russian state made the opposition of masculine dominance impossible and therefore was less likely to persecute women than it was men that threatened the pervading social order. Russian women, while traditionally filling the role of the witch stereotype, and commonly functioning as healers and commanders of both benign and malignant magical powers, were rarely persecuted for witchcraft because they, unlike their Western European contemporaries, were not a direct threat to the societal order.
27 Ibid., 76. 28 Simonian, “Following the Traces of Xenophobia,” 197.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Kivelson, Valerie A. “Male Witches and Gendered Categories in Seventeenth Century Russia.” Comparative Studies in Society & History 45 (2003): 606-631. Kivelson, Valerie A. “Patrolling the Boundaries: Witchcraft Accusations and Household Strife in Seventeenth-Century Muscovy.” Harvard Ukrainian Studies 19 (1995): 302-323. Kivelson, Valerie A. “Through the Prism of Witchcraft Gender and Social Change in Seventeenth-Century Muscovy.” In New Perspectives on Witchcraft, Magic and Demonology: Gender and Witchcraft Vol 4, edited by Brian P. Levack. New York: Routledge, 2001. Levack, Brian P. The Witchcraft Sourcebook. New York: Routledge, 2004. Pushkareva, N.L. “Women in the Medieval Russian Family of the Tenth Through Fifteenth Centuries.” In Russia’s Women: Accomodation, Resistance and Transformation, edited by Barbara Evans Clements, Barbara Alpern Engel, Christine D. Worobec. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. Ryan, W.F. The Bathhouse at Midnight: Magic in Russia. Stroud: Sutton Publishing Ltd, 2000. Simonian, Polina Melik. “Following the Traces of Xenophobia in Muscovite Witchcraft Investigation Records.” In Witchcraft Mythologies and Persecutions: Demons, Spirits and Witches, Vol 3, edited by Eva Pocs and Gabor Klaniczay. New York: Central European University Press, 2008. Zguta, Russell. “Witchcraft and Medicine in Pre-Petrine Russia.” Russian Review 37, (1978): 438-448. Zguta, Russell. “Witchcraft Trials in Seventeenth Century Russia.” American Historical Review, 82 (1977): 1187-1208.
The Question of Russian Identity in Nikolai Leskov’s Lefty Annie MacKay
eskov’s 1881 skaz Lefty explores the eternal question of Russia’s distinctness from the neighbouring European West. In the folk tale, Russian craftsmanship risks being bested by the English. The effort to outdo them and thus assert the cultural uniqueness of Russia begets an exploration of the nature of Russian identity that reflects the midnineteenth century debate between Slavophiles and Westernizers. Lefty’s title character embodies the spirit of the narod that came to be representative of true Russian culture. Proximity to nature and the rural land, dual Christian Orthodox-Pagan faith, and this quintessentially Russian spirit were preserved among the Russian narod when the upper classes lost their Russianness in an onslaught of European culture. This turn to the Russian peasant to regain the loss of cultural identity bred a new, defining sense of narodnost, or nationalism, to the Russian people that is reflected in Lefty’s fierce loyalty and spirit of sobornost in Leskov’s tale. Lefty is thus framed by the theme of Russia’s search for distinct cultural identity that found an answer, in this skaz as well as in nineteenth-century history, in the narod.
evolutionary.2 Cultural emphasis has been placed either on the Western-ness or the Eastern-ness of Russian identity depending on the moment in history. Peter the Great’s Europeanization of his country at the turn of the eighteenth century so steered his country toward a Western way of life that Catherine II later declared in her 1767 Instructions that “Russia is an European State.”3 In Lefty, both Platov and Lefty emphasize the cultural divide, rather than the likeness, between Russia and Europe, with Platov in particular defying the marginalization and overshadowing that his country suffers at the hands of her powerful Western neighbour. This nationalistic stance arose from the nineteenth-century idea that Russians, specifically those of the upper class, had become so Europeanized that they had lost their sense of what was truly Russian. Instead of being what Fedor Tyutchev called a second Europe,4 some subscribed to the idea of Romantic Nationalism, whereby each nation was seen as a flower in the garden of humanity that had something of its own to contribute to the world.5 The “question ‘What is Russia?’” Geoffrey Hosking notes, “became all-consuming.”6 In Maureen Perrie’s article Narodnost: Notions of National Identity, she writes, “protest against Western cultural influence … led to an identification of rural Russia as more truly ‘national’ than the urban centres, such as St. Petersburg and Moscow, where foreign influence was greatest.”7 This view was adopted by the Slavophiles, whose opposing group in
In the question of Russia’s unique identity lies the tug-of-war between East and West, two poles between which she finds herself caught geographically and culturally. Nikolas Berdyaev, in his Definition of the Russian National Type writes of this “dualism which is so characteristic of the destiny of Russian and the Russian people.”1 This polarization has been evident throughout the history of Russia, a narrative marked by dramatic shifts 2 Laura Beraha, RUSS 217: Folk and Faith I. that tend toward the revolutionary rather than the 3 Catherine the Great, “Instructions: Excerpts,” 253.
1 Berdyaev, “Definition of the Russian National Type,” 16.
4 Tyutchev, “Is Russia Distinct From the West?”, 280. 5 “Romantic Nationalism,” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 6 Hosking, Russia, 270. 7 Perrie, “Narodnost,” 29.
the debate, the Westernizers, believed that Russia had no unique cultural identity of which to speak. The respective views of these rival sides were articulated most notably by Slavophile Ivan Kireevski in On the Nature of European Culture and its Relation to the Culture of Russia and Westernizer Peter Chaadaev in his Letters on the Philosophy of History. In Lefty, the two sides of the debate are represented by the two sovereigns. Although Tsar Alexander I’s 1801-1825 reign predated the Slavophile-Westernizer debate, in Leskov’s 1881 skaz he acts as an embodiment of the Westernizers’ point of view put forth by Chaadaev. Alexander admits “we Russians are good for nothing,”8 and concedes to the Englishmen, “you are the best craftsmen in the whole world, and my people cannot do anything comparable to your work.”9 His denigration of Russian capabilities reflects Chaadaev’s opinions. The latter wrote of his native Russia, “we have given nothing to the world, we have taught it nothing…what we have borrowed…we have distorted…we have produced nothing for the common benefit of all mankind.”10 Like the Westernizers, the Alexander I we see in Lefty does not believe that Russia measures up to Europe. Chaadaev writes that Russia’s only identity is that which she borrows from her neighbour, calling it “a culture which is wholly imported and imitative.”11 Kireevski counters that the imitative elements of Russian culture are not Russian at all. He argues that the process of Europeanization nearly destroyed the Russian “national personality.”12 The Slavophiles believed that outside of the imported elements of Russian culture, the country had an identity all her own and her place was thus not behind Europe; rather her destiny was to lead the West. Platov is an adamant subscriber to this philosophy in Lefty. He is quick to point to his
country’s superiority, even going so far as to disassemble a rifle treasured by England to prove that it is of Russian make.13 Tsar Nicholas II has a similar agenda. He stands for the Slavophile side of the debate over Russian identity, in opposition to his predecessor Alexander. In so doing he represents the changing currents of the identity question over the time period of the tale. Leskov writes, “The Sovereign Nikolai Pavolovich had great confidence in his Russian people and didn’t like to yield to any foreigner.”14 Nicholas II thus supports the establishment of a Russian identity distinct from the West. Robin Milner-Gulland agrees with Kireevski that Russia’s assimilation to the West “symboliz[ed] the end of what in retrospect seemed the organic society of Rus.”15 The Slavophile initiative was thus to regain this organic Russian spirit by looking to where it had never been lost: the narod, the common people of Russia among whom, Kireevski attests, it has always, and will always, live on.16 The title character of Lefty is the very picture of the Russian peasant whose spirit and sense of Russian identity has remained untouched by the Europeanization and sophistication of the upper classes. According to Hosking, the peasantry “represented a long-standing protest against the way in which the imperial state had lost touch with the older roots of Russian national identity.”17 Lefty is depicted as pure and uncorrupted by the material interests of the aristocracy in both Russia and England. Leskov writes that his hero “didn’t understand how to talk like a courtier using flattery or cunning.”18 The beauty of his spirit and that of the narod as a whole lies in this simplicity. Leo Tolstoy’s iconic portrait of the peasant Platon Karatayev in War and Peace reflects this virtue, describing Platon as an “eternal personification of the spirit of
8 Leskov, “Lefty,” 339. 9 Ibid., 343. 10 Chaadaev, “Letters on the Philosophy of History,” 167. 11 Ibid., 164. 12 Kireevski, “On the Nature of European Culture,” 180.
13 14 15 16 17 18
Leskov, “Lefty,” 340. Ibid., 345. Milner-Gulland, Belief Systems, 128. Kireevski, “On the Nature of European Culture,” 196. Hosking, Russia, 214. Leskov, “Lefty,” 355.
simplicity and truth.”19 Perrie argues that this view of the narod was influenced by the French philosopher Rousseau, who believed that the rural folk’s proximity to nature meant that they lived closer to God. This quality, she writes, rendered the Russian peasants “more truly human, and more profound in their capacity for feeling, than the urbanized and Westernized nobility.”20 The Russian connection to the land is critical to notions of Russian identity. In this way, the peasant’s connection to the land and to nature made him the picture of Russianness. Alexander Venetsianov reflected on this connection in his series of paintings portraying the peasantry in their rural environment, including works such as A Peasant Girl with a Calf 21 and Spring Ploughing.22 In Lefty, Russia is seen as more natural than the technological and materialistic Europe. In England, Lefty is unsettled by the offer of vodka that is green, “as if they had mixed it with copper sulfate.” Lefty, guided by his narod instincts, opted to choose “what was most natural”.23 He is accordingly representative of the purity and naturalism associated with the Russian peasant identity. Khomiakov emphasized the difference of these values from those of the West in his distinction between kush, the Western prevalence of material force and sensual gratification, and iran, the Eastern dominance of God and inner freedom.24 From this depiction of the narod as “humble and simple”25 and close to nature and God emerges the image of their quiet dignity. Kramskoi drew on this notably in his 1882 portrait of a peasant, Mina Moiseev. Lefty is also presented in this manner. When he meets Nicholas II, Lefty is horribly dressed “but he was not in the least embarrassed”.26 Kireevski too notes this quality of the Russian 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
Tolstoy, “Excerpt from War and Peace,” 170. Perrie, “Narodnost,” 29. Venetsianov, Peasant Girl with a Calf. Venetsianov, Spring Ploughing. Leskov, “Lefty,” 357. Beraha, RUSS 217: East vs. West II. Hosking, Russia, 273. Leskov, “Lefty,” 354.
peasant, writing, “in his actions…there is a deep calm…a dignity coupled with resignation, which bear testimony to the serenity, depth, and integrity of his spiritual being”.27 The Russian spirit is an inherent component of the identity that grew out of the narod and was embraced by the Slavophiles, and it is a spirit embodied by Lefty that resounds in Leskov’s folk tale. The spirit that emanates from Lefty and from the narod as a whole is owed in part to the crucial role that faith plays in the life of the Russian peasant. Narod faith is characterized by the duality of Paganism and Orthodoxy. The uniqueness of this element to Russian culture makes it a fundamental part of the Russian identity. Worship of pagan icons is depicted in Savitskii’s painting Meeting the Icon and in Rublev’s Trinity. War and Peace’s Platon Karatayev prays to both Pagan patron saints and Jesus Christ.28 The Russian dual faith also has a notable presence in Lefty. Lefty is very insistent about the righteousness of his Orthodox faith when the Englishmen question it.29 Hosking underlines this importance, suggesting that being Russian and being Orthodox is one in the same.30 Its counterpart, Paganism, is alluded to early on in Lefty when Platov prays to his travel icon,31 indicative of his embodiment of a Russian, non-European, identity. The Tulakian gunsmiths pray to icons to seek advice on how to surpass the English craftsmanship.32 This suggests that the Russians are able to outdo the English because they have that crucial element that Europeans lack – according to the Slavophile view33 that Leskov adopts – an all-encompassing spirituality. This unique Russian spirit is associated with a powerful capacity for love. In his poem Scythians, Alexander Blok writes, “For centuries you have not known such love as sets our hot 27 28 29 30 31 32 33
Kireevski, “On the Nature of European Culture,” 194. Tolstoy, “Excerpt from War and Peace,” 165. Leskov, “Lefty,” 359. Hosking, Russia, 210. Leskov, “Lefty,” 339. Ibid., 348. Kireevski, “On the Nature of European Culture,” 205.
blood churning”.34 In the twentieth-century Song of the Motherland written by Lebedev-Kumach and Dunaevsky are the lyrics “in the world you won’t find any people who know better than us how to laugh and love”.35 Perrie writes that this capacity for love and immense feeling grew to be seen as a defining characteristic of the Russian people. It is one which critic Dangulov strongly emphasizes in Lefty: “in his countenance one sees a purity of heart…and all-embracing breadth of character and that goodness which is love of humanity itself ”.36 It is also a characteristic that Slavophiles welcomed as a means of distinguishing themselves from their Western neighbours. Kireevski contrasts Europe with his Russia: [T]here the whim of fashion, here the stability of a way of life; there the precariousness of individual wilfulness, here the solidarity of family and social ties; there ostentatious luxury and artificiality, here simplicity of needs and moral fortitude…[and] an overwhelming reaching out for wholeness of being.37
The “wholeness” and communal element of the Russian spirit of the narod led to the Slavophile’s emphasis on sobornost as a uniquely Russian aspect of the national identity. The collective spirit of sobornost is very much alive in Leskov’s tale. There is a sense that Lefty is a representative of the narod, an ambassador of sorts in his voyage to England. He stands for the thriving collectivism and unity of the Russian people in contrast to the individualism that plagues Europe.38 In this communal spirit, Lefty asks “Which way is our Russia?” He becomes an object of it himself when Leskov refers to him as “our Lefty,”39 rendering the tale’s hero a symbol of Russia. Even the form of Lefty lends itself to this sense of sobornost. Being a skaz, the voice of the 34 Blok, “Scythians (1918),” 112. 35 Dunaevsky and Lebedev-Kumach, “Song of the Motherland,” 272. 36 Dangulov, “With Tula Craftsmanship,” 174-85. 37 Kireevski, “On the Nature of European Culture,” 205. 38 Kireevski, “On the Nature of European Culture,” 205. 39 Leskov, “Lefty,” 361-362.
tale is very much that of the common folk. The narrator identifies himself as Russian and in doing so implicitly criticizes the Englishmen and even Alexander I as he sympathizes with them, through phrases such as “they [the English] pulled another one of their tricks”.40 Leskov’s narrator employs the “we” voice and speaks of Russians as “us”,41 thus communicating the sense of communalism inherent in the Russian spirit. The sense of sobornost translates to Lefty’s fierce loyalty to his homeland while he is in England. “We didn’t get far in book learning,” he says, “but we’re very loyal to our fatherland.” 42 He rejects the Englishmen’s offers of their education, their religion, their women, even their tea. As the narrator notes, “The Englishmen could not do anything to make him like their way of life.”43 Lefty establishes his acute, Slavophile distinction from Europe through his incapacity to feel remotely at home there. In Lefty there is an immediate sense of what is Russian and what is not. Platov recognizes the English rifle as Russian work.44 The chemist employed by Tsar Nicholas II to identify the English steel flea is certain of one thing: “the work is not ours, not Russian”.45 Leskov’s skaz makes it very clear that the issue of Russian identity is no matter of ambiguity. Lefty places the narod front and centre in the question of Russian identity. The Westernizer perspective is quickly belittled by the power of the narod that stands behind the Slavophile point of view. The picture Leskov paints of Russia is one that is unquestionably unique in its national and cultural identity. The emergence of the narod as “the true bearers of the national character”46 bred a new kind of nationalism – of narodnost – whereby “it became possible to take pride in Russianness”.47 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47
Ibid., 342. Ibid., 338. Ibid., 358. Ibid., 359-60. Ibid., 340. Ibid., 344. Perrie, “Narodnost,” 29. Hosking, Russia, 224.
A microscope may be necessary to see whether Russia or Europe comes out on top in craftsmanship, but thematically, Russiaâ€™s cultural triumph is unquestionable.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Beraha, Laura. RUSS 217: East vs. West II. McGill University, Montreal QC: 19 Oct. 2009. Beraha, Laura. RUSS 217: Folk and Faith I. McGill University, Montreal QC: 14 Sept. 2009. Berdyaev, Nicolas. “Definition of the Russian National Type.” In The Russian Idea, 1-33. Translated by R.M. French. Boston: Beacon Press, 1962. Blok, Aleksandr. “Scythians (1918).” In Selected Poems, 111-113. Translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France. Manchester: Carcanet, 2000. Catherine the Great. “Instructions: Excerpts.” In Readings in Russian Civilization. Vol. 2, 252255. Edited by Thomas Riha. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969. Chaadaev, Petr. “Letters on the Philosophy of History.” In Russian Intellectual History: An Anthology, 159-73. Edited by Marc Raeff. New York: Harcourt Brace & World, 1966. Dangulov, Savva. “With Tula Craftsmanship: Leskov’s Great Fable Illustrated by the Kukryniksy.” Soviet Literature. 12 (1975): 174-85. Dunaevsky, Isaac and Vasily Lebedev-Kumach. “Song of the Motherland.” In Mass Culture in Soviet Russia: Tales, Poems, Songs, Movies, Plays and Folklore 1917-1953, 271-72. Edited by James von Geldern and Richard Stites. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1995. Hosking, Geoffrey. Russia: People and Empire 1552-1917. London: Harper Collins, 1997. Kireevski, Ivan. “On the Nature of European Culture and Its Relation to the Culture of Russia: Letter to Count E.E. Komarovskii.” In Russian Intellectual History: An Anthology, 174-207. Edited by Marc Raeff. New York: Harcourt Brace & World, 1966. Kramskoi, Ivan. Mina Moiseev (The Peasant). 1882. Oil on canvas. The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia. Leskov, Nikolai. “Lefty: A Skaz About Cross-Eyed Lefty from Tula and a Steel Flea.” In Anthology of Russian Literature from Earliest Writings to Modern Fiction: Introduction to a Culture, 338-67. Edited by Nicholas Rzhevsky. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1996. Milner-Gulland, Robin. “Belief Systems.” In The Russians, 83-132. London: Blackwell, 1997.
Amidst Superfluity - How The Superfluous Man is Flourishing Figuratively and Literally Caleb Harrison
he eternally recurring literary character of The Superfluous Man, the pinpointing of which marked an extraordinarily influential moment in Russian literature, is not solely a fiction. Through an evaluation of current literature in which The Superfluous Man has flowed, it is the aim of this essay, using Anton Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard as a base stimulus, to show that not only is the Superfluous Man still alive and well figuratively, he has seeped from the page and into a superfluous generation; especially by the vehicle of technology. But what (or who) is ‘The Superfluous Man’? In her reexamination of this literary archetype, Ellen B. Chances defines him as “a tragic or Romantic hero who suffers defeat because of the inability of society to understand the individualist.”1 Madelyn Elizabeth Duffey also offers a definition, which will play a supporting role in this essay: “a character that possesses wealth, intelligence, education, and charisma but who is ultimately unable to make any meaningful societal contributions, or commit to any one person or cause.”2 The combination of these definitions should immediately ring a bell with the audience of The Cherry Orchard, as it captures the personae of Leonid Gayev (Mrs. Ravensky’s brother), and Peter Trofimov (the “eternal student”). At first glance, these two characters seem nothing alike. Upon closer speculation, however, we see that they both fall under the archetype of The Superfluous Man. Gayev is constantly shushed by the other characters; thus stifling his ego. He exerts his individuality in his persistent (and apparently arbitrary) references to billiards. Especially illustrative of Gayev’s personality is the speech he 1 Chances, Conformity’s Children, iii. 2 Duffey, “The American Reincarnation of the Superfluous Experience,” 225.
endeavors upon in recognition of the centenary of the bookcase. He proceeds to speak in an incredibly eloquent fashion, “…upholding [through tears] in several generations of our line confidence and faith in a better future and fostering in us the ideals of virtue and social consciousness.”3 Furthermore, his claim that “I’ve suffered quite a bit for my convictions”4, gives the audience the feeling that he is bitter towards society and those who treat him as they do. In our second example of the Superfluous Man, Trofimov, we find a young revolutionary soul, an eternal student who has kept his place in university only with difficulty due to his radical spirit. On the one hand, we perceive a true revolutionary fighter against the status quo, a valiant knight errant. But on the other hand, we have a well-spoken graduate student, unrecognized by society, who has been lucky enough to have never had to “put his money where his mouth is”, so to speak. Our latter description is essentially more convincing because, throughout the play, Trofimov does little more than talk. We have no evidence that he has been, or ever will be, given the opportunity to fight for his ideals. In order to broaden the scope of this investigation, thus extracting from a larger sample a more precise argument, it will be helpful to identify a number of other characters who share these qualities and who fall under the category of The Superfluous Man. Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov also personifies The Superfluous Man. This character differs greatly from Gayev and Trofimov in his utter sluggishness. This is not to suggest we have evidence that the others are not lazy, though their main characterizations are Trofimov’s pensive personality and 3 Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard, 251. 4 Ibid., 257.
Gayev’s sweet tooth and obsession with billiards. Through Oblomov, Goncharov portrays The Superfluous Man in a rather negative light. Oblomov certainly seems to mean well, since the third-person omniscient narrating voice informs us that his mind sets itself time and time again on rising from bed and “getting to work”, but he fails. His days, and arguably his life, are summarized thus: “Sleep is already beginning to numb Oblomov’s body and mind when he is smitten by the thought that he has done nothing since waking up and has not even washed.”5 Another example of The Superfluous Man in 19th-century Russian literature is Tchukalturin from Ivan Turgenev’s Diary of a Superfluous Man, the text that resulted in the nomenclatural dubbing of this literary hero. Tchukalturin is in love with a girl unattainable to him, and on his deathbed, recounts the events regarding his pursuit of this girl. Near the beginning of the story, he asserts, “I was a man, or perhaps I should say a fish, utterly superfluous in this world.”6 It certainly does not take much convincing to recognize this character as tragic, and when one arrives at this conclusion, it is rather easy to see that The Superfluous Man is in some ways often, if not always, a tragic character. Shakespeare’s famous character Hamlet also personifies The Superfluous Man. His motive is simple: vengeance. However, the expression of his character is tainted by the confusion caused by his actions and general temperament, and the misinterpreting of these things by his mother and her new husband, Hamlet’s uncle Claudius. It is this very misinterpretation that truly illuminates Hamlet’s portrayal of The Superfluous Man, as challenged by “the inability of society to understand the individualist.”7 It’s also important, however, to point out that Hamlet is a young man, and his angst or frustration, which any young person would recognize, marks a crucial element that 5 Goncharov, Oblomov, 105. 6 Turgenev, Diary of a Superfluous Man, 14. 7 Chances, Conformity’s Children, iii.
characterizes the current superfluous generation, namely the alienation from the outside world. Andrei Pavlovich Buzykin from the film Autumn Marathon (1979) is a man torn between his wife and mistress, unable to choose between the two. In trying to help everyone, he only manages to tangle himself in a web of lies and complications. Another example is Bernard Berkman from the film The Squid and the Whale (2005), a washed-up and depressed author who is dealing with a divorce from his wife of seventeen years and joint-custody of their two sons. We see these two characters’ superfluity in their failure to transcend their position and make a meaningful effort to their loved ones. They ultimately have a negative effect on all of those around them and refuse to take responsibility. The approach to the above Superfluous Men by the characters with whom they interact is consistently one of perplexity at their general temperament. This ‘hero’ is hardly heroic, and while there are cases in which he is liked and even loved, it hardly stands that he is likeable or loveable. Throughout The Squid and the Whale, Bernard’s son Walt displays a sort of fixation with his father, and tends to act and speak like him. But near the end of the film, having realized his father’s superfluity, he rejects this behavior and in this displays a great deal of personal growth. The audience of The Cherry Orchard can recognize the importance of Gayev and Trofimov in their portrayal of this archetype, but we can hardly blame the other characters for growing impatient with Gayev’s ramblings, and we can see how Trofimov and anyone like him could swiftly become a bore. These Superfluous Men are tiresome and are treated in a due manner. But why, then, is this archetype so perennial? Duffey offers us the following explanation: The ‘superfluous man’ was representative of the frustration that Russian classes had with an autocratic and authoritarian government… If the small wealthy and educated population of 19th century Russia was unable [to] make effective
Turgenev, in his speech entitled “Hamlet and Don Quixote”, has compared the superfluity of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with the ridiculousness of Cervantes’ lovable hero. Hamlet is pensive and analytical, he is calculated and thoroughly enigmatic, while Don Quixote is comical yet respectable in his dedication to his mission, however silly it seems. “Hamlets find nothing, invent nothing, and leave no trace of themselves … They leave no deeds behind them. They do not love, they do not believe- what can they possibly find?”9 This notion touches upon generation Y. There seems to be a current trend of superfluity given the environment in which we now find ourselves immersed. Never before has information been so readily available via technology such as ‘smartphones’, portable laptop computers, and modern transmitting technology such as satellite dishes, ‘Skype’, et cetera, all linked by the internet, the navigation of which has become second nature to this generation. In our constant devouring of new information and old newly-readily-available information, how can one reject superfluity? In a world that is rapidly increasing in population, experiencing withdrawal from globalization, thus intensifying the feeling of a global culture, or a melting pot of culture, where the internet is an implosion of virtual reality, where people are less and less people and more and more a profile on ‘Facebook’, how can one avoid feeling unrecognized by society? This is supported by the notion of a ‘wiki’, which is defined as “a type of web page designed so that its content can be edited by anyone who accesses it, using a simplified markup language.”10 People wish to contribute to anything, and these websites are designed to give them their satisfaction. In The Cherry Orchard, Trofimov expresses
the will to contribute to society, but he is an unsuccessful revolutionary for the simple reason that he has not done anything. He begins to make a speech about progress, but becomes fixated on his distaste for the intellectuals/intelligentsia of his time.11 The irony of this speech is that Trofimov is himself a member of the intelligentsia - thus we see that he himself hates his own type, that The Superfluous Man is not even agreeable unto himself! Even less agreeable to Superfluous Men than themselves are their opposites: Philistines. Directly after Trofimov’s speech, Lopakhin, a hardworking businessman who has struggled all his life to see the fruits of his labor flourish, remarks, “… the Lord gave us these huge forests, these boundless plains, these vast horizons, and we who live among them ought to be real giants.”12 This is an exclamation of his values, that work and personal gain ought to come first and foremost, which encapsulates philistinism. In The Squid and the Whale, Bernard Berkman calls his son Frank’s tennis coach a philistine, and when asked what that means he replies, “It’s someone who doesn’t like interesting movies and books and things.”13 Frank then states that he believes himself to be a philistine, which Bernard simply refuses to accept. One can imagine how furious it makes Bernard when Frank tells him later on in the film (after the divorce) that his ex-wife is now dating the tennis coach. These threads continue to make up the fabric that is contemporary society. While as a whole the generation at hand is superfluous, there are those whose values line up with Lopakhin, as always have been and always will. It is a very similar notion of timelessness that we ought to attribute to The Superfluous Man. Dobroliubov, in his essay entitled, What is Oblomovism? has argued, “In every one of us there is a goodly part of Oblomov…”14 This rings true in the current generation, where is the evidence to
8 Duffey, “The American Reincarnation of the Superfluous Experience,” 228. 9 Turgenev, Diary of a Superfluous Man, 555. 10 Oxford English Dictionary, ‘Wiki’.
11 12 13 14
change, then who could? 8
Chechkov, The Cherry Orchard, 266. Ibid., 266. The Squid and the Whale Dobroliubov, “What is Oblomovism?”, 280.
suggest otherwise? We are stuck in a state of stagnancy, a state of superfluity. This is largely due to the fact that we live and are less, while our virtual expressions of ourselves flourish in the virtual world. It has been discussed whether or not the literary archetype of The Superfluous Man is deceased. Such discourse holds no grounds. Dobroliubov continues, “…and it is still too early to write the inscription on our tomb.”15 Not only is The Superfluous Man alive and well, he is thriving, and has become a pandemic amongst generation Y.
15 Dobroliubov, “What is Oblomovism?”, 280.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Chances, Ellen B. Conformity’s Children: an Approach to the Superfluous Man in Russian Literature. Columbus, OH: Slavica, 1978. Chekhov, Anton Pavlovich. The Cherry Orchard. Five Plays. New York: Oxford UP, 2008. Dobroliubov, Aleksandr. “What is Oblomovism?” In Anthology of Russian Literature, edited by Leo Wiener. Part II: The Nineteenth Century, 272-80. New York: Benjamin Blom, 1962. Duffey, Madelyn Elizabeth. “The American Reincarnation of the Superfluous Experience.” Journal of Creativity in Mental Health 1.3 (2007): 225-35. Ivan Goncharov, Excerpt from Oblomov (The Complete Sluggard). In Russians Then and Now, edited by Avrahm Yarmolinsky, 86-105. New York: MacMillan, 1963. Turgenev, Ivan Sergeevich, and Constance Black Garnett. Diary of a Superfluous Man. Rockville, MD: Wildside, 2009. 3-98. Turgenev, Ivan. “Hamlet and Don Quixote.” In The Essential Turgenev, edited by Elizabeth Cheresh Allen, 547-64. Evanston IL: Northwestern University Press, 1994. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. G. R. Hibbard. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998. Osennii Marafon (Autumn Marathon). International Film Exchange, 1980. The Squid and the Whale. Dir. Noah Baumbach. Perf. Owen Kline, Jeff Daniels. 2005. DVD.
Between We and Me: a Sustained Struggle Maria Naimark
he struggle between the individual and the collective was of crucial importance during the formative years of the Soviet Union, but the tension between these two forces is timeless and of universal relevance. In his magnum opus We, Zamyatin presents an almost wholly mechanized society, one that has subjugated the individual to the needs of the collective. This enables far greater societal and state efficiency and theoretically eliminates the possibility of emotional and physical pain. However, Zamyatin convincingly demonstrates that to abolish the individual is to preclude the sensation of true emotion, which can only be fully appreciated with knowledge of its opposite; the understanding of happiness requires the understanding of pain. I-330 nudges protagonist D-503 towards a previously unconsidered mode of thought, hinging on the recognition of the individual, which slowly alters his perception of himself and society. But Zamyatin does not portray individualism as unequivocally beneficial. I-330 ultimately exhibits certain predatory traits, and individualism produces elements of selfishness and egoism. Nonetheless, the complex symbiotic relationship between the “me” and the “we” is preferable to the silencing of one or the other. To make humans into machines is to deny both elements of their full capacity, and to invalidate the humanity that machines are made to serve. The society that Zamyatin initially portrays in We is of the distant future, in which mechanisation, and the efficiency and rationality that stem from it, has been taken to an extreme. Citizens have numbers instead of names, acting as a “single million headed body,”1 through which pumps a “single common turbulent magnificent blood.”2 Time is 1 Zamyatin, We, 77. 2 Ibid., 58
divided by the Book of Hourly Tables, used to regulate lives that have become largely impersonal and subservient to the goals of the Single State. Prior to D-503’s metamorphosis, he had fully internalized the notion that “humility is a virtue, pride is a vice, We is from God, I is from the devil.”3 In effect, the state has eliminated the unknown and set all inhabitants on a linear, unambiguous path. Governed by mathematical principles, individual lives take on the characteristics of the multiplication tables that are “never in error. No vacillations, no delusions.”4 Theoretically, the individual has been granted a happiness that derives not only from the absence of physical or emotional pain, but “from his feeling of being a small but integral part of one mighty, well-organized whole.”5 Citizens have become supremely mechanized, performing designated tasks such as eating and sleeping in precise unity. Traits such as empathy have been considerably eroded, if not wholly eliminated: D-503 states with pride that when ten workers were accidentally incinerated “work did not falter for a second…no one flinched.”6 This is the epitome of the state’s success: the point at which “properly conditioned numbers do not experience visceral reactions”.7 The Single State takes advantage of man’s propensity to let others think for him - an inclination that holds true for the majority, while inevitably leaving a small, vocal minority who consciously refuse to be habituated by the state. Nevertheless, Individualism is more subtle than the above description would imply. Though I-330 serves as a catalyst, D-503’s journey begins 3 4 5 6 7
Ibid., 77. Ibid., 42. Collins, Evgenij Zamjatin, 22. Zamyatin, We, 65. Cooke, Human Nature in Utopia, 160.
not with her, but with his manuscript. The mathematician seeks to describe what the Whole experiences, but his records quickly become subjective, and already in the first entry his cheeks are burning and the “I” that inevitably accompanies writing has begun to form. D-503 has been effectively taught to reduce everything to a mathematical equation, but “as soon as he describes impressions and people, his account takes on an acutely nervous vitality.”8 Following this initial transgression, it is I-330 who conclusively alters D-503’s perceptions. I-330 is immediately introduced as a number which is potentially predatory: D-503 focuses on her “sharp white teeth,”9 throughout the manuscript. Furthermore, his analyses of I-330’s face “reveals two acute triangles forming an X - an algebraic symbol of the unknown,”10 which to D-503 is the most frightening trait conceivable. In contrast with the transparent and definite world of the Single State, I-330’s dubiousness is apparent even physically, the ramifications of which will be discussed below. She quickly draws D-503, symbolically and physically, to the world beyond the Green Wall, where there is “something repulsively soft, yielding, living, green, resilient.”11 I-330 has no particular goal or plan for her proposed revolution, she simply “prefers an unpredictable future full of pain as well as joy to the monotonous, mathematical happiness of the Single State.”12 Rebellion is thus given philosophical motivation, portrayed as an effort to free human emotions from their confinement in a rigidly rational social structure, to reclaim individualism, with all of its uncertainties, as preferable to dissipation within an unbending collective. I-330 is genuinely curious when she asks D-503 why he thinks foolishness is not good.13 Furthermore, she rebukes him for having become “overgrown with mathematical figures, figures crawling all over [him] like fleas. Everything must
be torn off you and you must be chased off naked into the forest.”14 This instruction is representative of a broader, and very prevalent, Rousseauan philosophy which can be summarised as an urge to the unspoiled primitive. The same dynamic can be seen in Orwell’s 1984, where the last hope lies with the proles, and Huxley’s Brave New World, which describes a Savage Reservation as a bastion of unspoiled human emotions. In the same vein, Mayakovsky’s Bedbug presents a loathsome drunk who, in the sterile and soulless world of the future in which he inadvertently ends up, suddenly acquires a very likeable humanity, again serving as a representative of a more primitive and authentic era. Put succinctly, such literature “assumes that certain indispensible human values- respect for the individual person, love, honour, even poetry- are somehow preserved on the lower and less well-organised levels of life while they disappear from the higher.”15 This is in keeping with Zamyatin’s own mode of thinking. E.J. Brown notes that in the author’s work there is a long series of getaways, or attempted getaways, from one level of organised life to a lower, less organised, and consequently more free level, positing that “the notion of escape is a constantly re-occurring theme and is deeply characteristic.”16 Zamyatin himself escaped to Paris after directly appealing to Stalin in 1931. In his 1923 On Literature, Revolution, Entropy, and Other Matters, Zamyatin argues that “heretics are necessary to health, if there are no heretics, they should be invented.”17 In what could easily be taken to reflect I-330’s stance, he praises the desire to seeks answers to absurd, childish questions, and to freely make mistakes: “errors are more valuable than truth: truth is of the machine, error is alive; truth reassures, error disturbs.”18 The error is individual; the fallacious absolute truth is collective.
8 Parrinder, “Imagining the Future,” 24. 9 Zamyatin, We, 79. 10 Parrinder, “Imagining the Future,” 23. 11 Zamyatin, We, 92. 12 Collins, Evgenij Zamjatin, 22. 13 Zamyatin, We, 79.
14 Ibid., 98. 15 Brown, Brave New World, 1984, and We, 40. 16 Ibid., 22 17 Zamyatin, “On Literature, Revolution, Entropy, and Other Matters.” 2. 18 Ibid., 3.
In the case of D-503, it is unclear to what extent he truly begins to understand and to adhere to I-330’s philosophy, as opposed to simply becoming infatuated with her. This is one of the dangers of individualism: as D shifts his submission from the State to I-330, he begins to derive his happiness from ecstatic submission not to the supremely rational but rather to natural urges, and must “face also the possibility of periodic or even permanent frustration and loneliness.”19 D-503’s motivation for hijacking the Integral, meant to spread rational civilisation to other planets, is more strongly grounded in I-330’s approval than in substantive concern with the mission. When he admits that “there were two of me, one of me was my formal self,”20 the liminal moment was not the fundamental alteration of how he views society, which occurs gradually, but rather it was falling in love with I-330 and feeling the individual possessiveness that the emotion entails. D attempts to fight his submission, writing that “she had to be shown I was being run by the United State and not by her,”21 but the protest is futile. D-503 wants one thing - not revolution, destruction, or conquest, but I-330 herself. The same number who had previously maintained that “homo sapiens is only a human being in the full sense of the word when there are absolutely no question marks in his grammar, only exclamation marks, commas, and periods alone,”22 cannot restrain himself from impulsively and irrationally running towards I-330 when he sees that she is in danger. This presents an interesting dilemma with regards to individualism, and adds a level of complexity to its relationship with the collective. As mentioned, to delineate the individual is to expose him to the possibility of both pain and pleasure. The emotional investment that D-503 places in I-330 is unsustainable and imperfectly reciprocated. The drastic change he has undergone is par19 20 21 22
Collins, Evgenij Zamjatin, 23. Zamyatin, We, 41. Ibid., 44. Ibid., 76.
ticularly apparent when, upon entering her room and spotting an unfamiliar coupon for designated sexual partners, he “swept all the coupons from the table onto the floor, stamped on them- on [himself ], with [his] feet. There, take that!”23 While I-330’s true feelings are not explicitly stated and it can be argued that D-503 was inadequately committed to the revolution, Shane posits that “I-330 does not really love D-503, but simply is using him as a tool to further the aims of the revolutionary MEPHI.”24 Whether or not this statement is true, all that matters is D-503’s perception of I-330’s actions and presumed intentions. Furthermore, there are striking similarities between I-330 and The Benefactor: firstly, neither is quite forthcoming in their aims. The devotion felt towards The Benefactor by his citizens, which elevates him to a near-mythical status, has its individual equivalent in the love felt by D-503 for I-330, an emotion that produces idealisation. Describing the Benefactor’s entrance, D notes that “all eyes were raised upwards… descending to us it was he- the new Jehovah.”25 D-503 uses parallel language to describe I-330’s entrance to her group of supporters beyond the Green Wall: “there, on top, above everyone- I saw her.”26 It is conceivable that the chasm between forms and modes of revolution is not so much a difference of substance but of time: taken to its end and allowed to petrify, the proposed society of the MEPHI would potentially not fair much differently than the current Single State. Although detailed historical analysis is beyond the scope of this paper, this dynamic has been seen many times throughout Russian history, perhaps its most severe example being the grand hopes and idealism of the 1917 Russian Revolution, and the speed and extremity with which these were subsequently crushed. With regards to happiness and individualism, it is apparent that the argument of The Bene23 24 25 26
Ibid., 132. Shane, Evgenij Samjatin, 86. Zamyatin, We, 84. Ibid., 93.
factor has a certain amount of validity: “all desires are agonizing, aren’t they? And it is clear happiness is when there are no longer any desires, not a single one.”27 Individualism is not the pursuit of absolute happiness but the freedom to seek whichever kind of flawed, temporary happiness that one deems worthy. However, individuals are not homogeneous in the desire to do so, and when The Benefactor states that people have desired, tormented themselves, and prayed for “someone to tell them once and for all what happiness is and chain them to that happiness,”28 he is not, strictly speaking, lying. The nature of this happiness is debatable, as it is not matched by a corresponding level of sorrow that would deem it authentic. The MEPHI would argue that unmitigated emotions can only be experienced in their entirety through contrast with their positive or negative equivalent. The point at which D-503 truly “ceases to be submerged in the whole, as before…and become an individual,”29 is when he is praised with chants of ‘Hail to the Builder!’. Yet, it is crucial to note that such experiences are unavailable to all, or even the majority of citizens. A society built on individualism will inevitably contain those people whose individuality rests on negative traits and designations. In addition, too much individualism often leads to selfishness, the preponderance of which is described and derided by Bulgakov in The Master and Margarita, which paints a Moscow of bribery, corruption, pettiness, and nearly universal egoism. Having too great a focus on the self is simply just as detrimental as too great a focus on the whole. Another complex point relates to the notion of progress within the collective. The Single State claims to be built on mathematical foundations, but although it cites Pythagoras, Euclid, and Newton, “no names or numbers are cited from the time of the Two Hundred Years War and the founding of The Single State up to the point depicted
in the novel. It is as if science and mathematical thought have largely been defunct for the past two thousand years.”30 Even more surprisingly, D-503 is an advanced mathematician charged with building the Integral but incorrectly calculates the probability of being put in Auditorium 112, botching a relatively elementary mathematical equation. It seems that The Single State cannot attain perfection, and by making mathematics the foundation of society, it has ironically lost precisely the creativity it needs to advance mathematics. However, it is doubtful that the very primitive society outside the Green Wall is any better at advancing mathematical theory. Privileging individualism over the collective is simple, while finding a stable and most advantageous balance between the two is considerably more difficult. This debate is inextricably dualistic. Collins aptly notes that “utopians in the more primitive communities still dream of scientific and industrial progress, while utopians in countries with the greatest scientific and industrial development dream of primitive communities.”31 D-503’s manuscript is what plants the seeds of individualistic thought in his mind, and it is also what betrays him to the secret police. ‘True’ individualism is tempered by the reality that all people live, grow, and think within the confines of particular societal parameters, and the role played by an individual is rarely singular, usually having parallels with the myths of others. I-330, for instance, can be seen as representing Christ due to her ‘crucification’ at the novel’s end, while D-503 fills the role of the imperfect disciple.32 Like most other characters, they can be placed into archetypes: individuality is exhibited in degrees along a continuum as opposed to simply being a dichotomy between the present and the absent. While Zamyatin unequivocally favours individualism over the supremacy of the collective, this relationship is complex. Like the tug and
27 Ibid., 110. 28 Ibid., 128. 29 Ibid., 94.
30 Cooke, Human Nature in Utopia, 67. 31 Collins, Evgenij Zamjatin, 49 32 Barratt, “The X Factor”, 688.
pull between the forces of energy and entropy, it is at its most productive when it remains in tension. Neither the idealised ‘noble savage’ nor the mechanised ‘New Homo Sovieticus’ represents the apex of human and societal development. I-330 is correct, however, in preferring to have the choice between the two, as well as in championing the unadulterated experience of the emotions, positive and negative, that make humans human. In the choice between pushing humans closer to animals or to machines, it is the former option that is a more accurate reflection of both biological and psychological realities. Parrinder notes that “We does describe a revolution on the streets, but the narrator’s involvement is only accidental, for the real battleground is within his head”.33 So long as the battle endures, all has not been lost; ‘I’ and ‘We’ continue to play their tug-of-war that has as its goal not the completion of the game, but its continuation.
33 Parrinder, “Imagining the Future,” 24.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Barratt, Andrew. “The X Factor in Zamyatin’s We.” Modern Language Review 80.3 (1985): 659-72. Brown, E.J. Brave New World, 1984, and We: an Essay on Anti-Utopia. Ann Arbour: Ardis, 1976. Bulgakov, Mikhail. The Master and Margarita. London, UK: Penguin Books, 1997. Collins, Christopher. Evgenij Zamjatin. An Interpretive Study. The Hague: Mouton, 1973. Cooke, Brett. Human Nature in Utopia: Zamyatin’s We. Evanston, IL: Northwestern UP, 2002. Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. London, UK: Chatto and Windus, 1932. Mayakovsky, Vladimir. The Bedbug. Ann Arbour: Ardis, 1987. Orwell, George. 1984. London, UK: Secker and Warburg, 1949. Parrinder, Patrick. “Imagining the Future: Zamyatin and Wells.” Science Fiction Studies 1.1 (1973): 17-26. Shane, Alex. Evgenij Samjatin: a Critical Study. Thesis. University of California: Berkeley, 1965. Zamyatin, Evgeniy. “On Literature, Revolution, Entropy, and Other Matters.” Print. Rpt. in Moscow, 1923. 1-3. Zamyatin, Evgeniy. We. Ann Arbour: Ardis, 1987.