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Worrying too much about one disclaimer

April 18, 2011

A quick p.s. to the last post, about Korman’s idea that the “subject of consciousness” (субъект сознания) matters much more in Nekrasov’s poetic system than in Fet’s, where the thing described is what counts, not the precise identity of the character describing it.

Korman argues that this opposition falls out of Nekrasov’s (and Dobroliubov’s, Mikhailov’s, Ogarev’s) interest in people in society at a certain historical moment, in contrast to Fet’s (Polonskii’s, Maikov’s) desire to portray people as ahistorical individuals living in the cosmos. So far, so good.

Then, rather oddly, he immediately backs off, with a long disclaimer in parentheses saying that all that holds true for Russian poetry of the period, but that “in different historical circumstances, in a different social situation, with different literary traditions, the relationship between literary schools and the dominant methods of expressing the authorial consciousness might be different” (114-15).

He seems to be undercutting a point that’s convincing at first glance and that I imagine would have been politically unproblematic at the time, all in the name of extreme scholarly precision. Did a colleague object with a counterexample from some other time or place? Or did it seem awkward to make what could be taken as a universal point about historical specificity, which needed to be corrected with some meta–historical specificity?

See B. O. Korman, Лирика Некрасова (Izhevsk, 1978), 108-15.

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