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N. T. Kostyr’ (1818-1853)

July 13, 2010

The next section covers critics’ views of Batiushkov in the 1840s and early 1850s as a brief bridge from Belinskii to the revolutionary democrats.

The 1840s are covered by two paragraphs on what Gogol said about Batiushkov: that he brought Russian poetry back to “the earth and the body” after Zhukovskii had taken it “away from the earth” and into a “realm of bodiless visions.”  Then Pushkin came along as a kind of happy medium (31-32).

After Gogol, Fridman turns to the first monograph about Batiushkov, by a certain professor Nikolai Trofimovich Kostyr’, which appeared in 1853, or would have, had Kostyr’ not decided to destroy most of its print run while dying of tuberculosis.

Kostyr’, an admirer of Hegel, linked Batiushkov’s poetry to eighteenth-century materialist philosophy, with disapproval, but, in Fridman’s view, accurately (33-34). He also divided the poet’s work into two periods, before and after 1812. The “idyllic world” that dominated the early poems vanished as in the later period Batiushkov felt the difference between his ideals and reality. The biographical Batiushkov turned to religion, but his poems did not become mystical, and indeed nothing in them replaced what was lost; “Batiushkov fell into a sorrowful lack of faith in life and man” (34-35).

The professor attributed to Batiushkov both “plasticity of emotion” and “plasticity of sound.”  In Fridman’s paraphase, the first term means that emotions in Batiushkov become solid, so to speak, and also that the poet never moves from one emotional state to another without passing through all those in between. Sounds in Batiushkov, meanwhile, “do not merely complete images, but supersede them” for Kostyr’ (35-36).

See section 3 of chapter 1 of N. V. Fridman’s Поэзия Батюшкова (Moscow, 1971), pp. 31-36.

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