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Modernist Mysteries: Perséphone$
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Tamara Levitz

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199730162

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730162.001.0001

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The Promise of Irreconcilable Difference

The Promise of Irreconcilable Difference

(p.565) 8 The Promise of Irreconcilable Difference
Modernist Mysteries: Perséphone

Tamara Levitz

Oxford University Press

Chapter 8 examines Persephone’s rebirth and return to the underworld with the goal of understanding what its emancipatory promise and historicity—or relationship to the past, present, and future—tells us about the politics of modernist neoclassicism. Gide introduces the cardboard figure of Triptolemus as a symbol of renewal he associates with the Soviet Union, and with Orpheus’s “backward glance” and the anxious politics of his pédérastie. Rubinstein, Copeau, and Stravinsky, in contrast, think of Persephone’s rebirth in terms of the resurrection of Christ. Stravinsky interprets resurrection from Suvchinsky’s Eurasianist perspective as related to the notion of cyclical history, and to the political idea of Russia resurrecting as a theocracy after the Bolshevik revolution. In his music he realizes the temporal idea of the simultaneity of past, present, and future by composing music that functions as a “vitalist” sculpture, and that can be compared to Aby Warburg’s notion of the Pathosformel. The chapter ends with reflections on how Perséphone failed on the night of its premiere, and the heterogeneity of interpretations it elicited.

Keywords:   Igor Stravinsky, Philosophy of Time and History, resurrection, Aby Warburg, Pathosformel, cyclic history, simultaneity of time, Pyotr Suvchinsky, Pyotr, Persephone, reception History, Orpheus Backward Glance, vitalism, Eurasianism

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