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Något betydelsefullt: Leonid Dobyčins möten bortom orden i den sovjetiska samtiden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Slavic and Baltic Studies, Finnish, Dutch, and German.
2019 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Something Important : Leonid Dobychin’s Encounters Beyond Words in Soviet Times (English)
Abstract [en]

This thesis studies the 1931 short story collection Portret [The Portrait] by the Russian author Leonid Ivanovich Dobychin (1894–1936?). My main argument is that the principal theme in Dobychin’s writings arises out of the complexities of human encounters. 

My approach is based on affirmative interpretations that I call “encountering” readings. They draw on critical practices developed by Boris Gasparov, who argues in his 2013 study of Pasternak Boris Pasternak: Po tu storonu poėtiki (Filosofiia. Muzyka. Byt) that the key to Pasternak’s work lies not in the dominant feature of their linguistic texture, but in the momentary states of everyday life that the author captures, and Henri Meschonnic’s Critique du rythme: Anthropologie historique du langage (1982). Meschonnic focuses on rhythm as an intrinsic aspect of the text that requires the reader to participate actively in appreciating the text as a work of art by following the interplay between rhythm, the active subject and what is expressed. Both scholars reflect a turn away from the linguistically informed theoretical approaches that dominated the academic study of literature in the twentieth century. 

Similarly, I approach Dobychin’s characters on the level of their personal conflicts and everyday lives by simulating an interpersonal encounter in an anti-theoretical search for meaning that is congenial to both the central theme of the stories and the way in which they reveal human encounters “beyond words,” as it were, both within the works and with the reader, through suggestive associations and not yet categorized, “precategorial” experiences in everyday life. 

The “unoutspokenness” (nedogovorënnost’)—i.e. reticence, a deliberate avoidance of explicitness that Dobychin’s contemporary critics ascribed to his writings and often disparaged as “incomprehensibility”—serves as a starting point for a critical discussion of both earlier research on Dobychin and theoretical approaches to literature more generally. In searching for a dominant formal feature, a ‘key’ or ‘code’, in Dobychin’s writings, earlier scholars have tended to describe it in terms of an anti-aesthetic. The alleged lack of plot, inner coherence and meaning is explained as deliberate, intended to performatively mirror the absurdness and inadequacies, the disorientation and loss of meaning in Soviet reality itself. In this thesis, I argue instead that there is no such lack or incoherence in Dobychin’s works. The “nedogovorënnost’” of his short stories is instead understood as an exact and purposeful way of conveying meaning through what is experienced and shared beyond words in a time that was overburdened with idealistic ideological discourses. At the heart of Dobychin’s stories are moments of fragile human interaction that underlie trivial dialogues and actions in banal everyday existence. The stories let the reader experience the sudden and unexpected human connections that the characters encounter in their everyday impressions. The contrasts and plurality of human perspectives thus perceived evoke a potential interaction beyond societal roles. These brief encounters are presented as something precarious in a Soviet society striving towards a single true ideology. Such a reading suggests that Dobychin is not so much a deliberately enigmatic author as a writer who aspires to express in words that which is profoundly wordless: the encounters between people outside of the ideological categories and discourses of their language.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för slaviska och baltiska språk, finska, nederländska och tyska, Stockholms universitet , 2019. , p. 332
Series
Stockholm Slavic Papers, ISSN 0347-7002 ; 27
Keywords [en]
Leonid Dobychin, L. Dobyčin, Russian Literature, Soviet Literature, Soviet Culture, 1920s, 1930s, Prose, Short Stories, Modernism, Formalism, Realism, Encounter, Meeting, Detail, Rhythm, Epiphany, Everyday Life, Bryansk, Leningrad, Petrograd, Saint Petersburg
Keywords [sv]
Leonid Dobyčin, L. Dobyčin, rysk litteratur, sovjetisk litteratur, sovjetisk kultur, 1920-talet, 1930-talet, prosa, noveller, modernism, formalism, realism, möte, detalj, rytm, epifani, vardagsliv, Brjansk, Leningrad, Petrograd, Sankt Petersburg
National Category
Specific Literatures General Literature Studies Literary Composition Specific Languages
Research subject
Slavic Languages
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-171254ISBN: 978-91-7797-773-5 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7797-774-2 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-171254DiVA, id: diva2:1340309
Public defence
2019-09-20, hörsal 9, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-08-28 Created: 2019-08-05 Last updated: 2019-08-20Bibliographically approved

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