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Modernism and MelancholiaWriting as Countermourning$
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Sanja Bahun

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199977956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199977956.001.0001

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Andrei Bely and the Spaces of Historical Melancholia

Andrei Bely and the Spaces of Historical Melancholia

On Petersburg

Chapter:
(p.70) 2 Andrei Bely and the Spaces of Historical Melancholia
Source:
Modernism and Melancholia
Author(s):

Sanja Bahun

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199977956.003.0003

The chapter interrogates the contrast between a seemingly traditional representation of social melancholy and its paradoxical denouncement through the use of “melancholic”, or “symptomatic”, language in Andrei Bely’s Petersburg (1913-1916-1922). The chapter first contextualizes and investigates “social melancholy” as it becomes readable in the text through an assortment of melancholic statements and dynamics with which Bely furnishes his characters—ranging from Cotard Syndrome to the failed negotiation of the loss of the mother, and from agoraphobia to obstructions in verbal communication. In a contrastive move, the chapter then accentuates the hitherto unattended melancholic structuring of the symbolist project, and reinterprets innovative features of Bely’s novel (fragmentary structure, experimental language, meta- and inter-textuality, and its grotesque mode) as a socially alert performance of the melancholic symptom—one that challenges precisely the passivist implications of Russian/early Soviet social melancholy.

Keywords:   andrei bely, petersburg, social melancholy, melancholia, language, russian revolution of 1905

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