Kljuev: Truths in poetry and in reality. Kljuev
and his relationships with some german philosopher and writers.
Doubts, problems, and disputes
1. About tesi di laurea.
2. Kljuev’s fortune.
3. Search of material.
Title of this tesi di laurea is
meaningful. The aim was the realisation of a “description” of Kljuev’s life
through the critical interpretations of some selected poems. I choose term
“truths” for a precise reason. We have not only one truth about his life, which
had a very mysterious end. It is possible to interpretate his poetry? How can
interpretate his poetry? It is possible to comprehend more about this author
after the analyse of some fundamental poems? Which are ties between this poet
and most important historical happenings of his period? Which are the
relationships between this poet and german culture? Which are problems, doubts,
quarrels about his life? Those are the questions that I tried to answer.
fortune of this poet is particular. He was such a kind of spiritual teacher for
Esenin, but many people, also in USSR, ignored his works. At the end of his
life he was isolated by the literary world, because he criticises
industrialisation and the other complex socio-political upheavals that passed
in his homeland. During his life we know about some translations of his works
in Italy, and in French. He receives
more attention in Germany thanks to work of Heinrich Stammler, a fundamental
Slavist. The only nation out of his country where he has a complete edition of
his works is Germany in 1969. In Italy we have some translations, Olga Simcic’s
biography and research of Kamilla Danil’cenko, who teaches in Bologna’s
University. Only in the last years Kljuev’s works are published in his country.
Kljuev’s poetry has furthermore a strong relationship with russian culture,
especially with Old Believers, religious sects and paganism. Those questions
convinced me to write a brief chapter about material’s research. Research of
material had two different objectives. First of all, I had to find Kljuev’s
poems to translate and then I had to research materials about religious sects
and paganism. I wrote about search with traditional means, like libraries, and
with new means like Internet. An important part of material regarding sects and
paganism, like Etkind’s books, was given me by Professor Danil’cenko. I had to
find Bonc-Bruevic’s books about religious sects. Here in Italy we have few
exemplars of this book. They are not available. Also in Russia this specialist
in anthropology is totally unknown. I found only a copy of this book by a
Search of material is a basis of all tesi di laurea. I wrote
before that I tried critical interpretations of some poems, that correspond to
all Kljuev’s life. I think it is possible to analyse Kljuev’s works in two
ways. I attempted to give importance to text and context. Give importance to
text means analyse with a big precision every word, that has often a multiple
and difficult meaning, but also to analyse relationships among each other. The
individuation of a central idea of a poem is the principal aim. I tried to
locate also secondary ideas that constitute different part of poem. This
individuation should be explained at the end of introduction. Those operations
must be motivated with all rhetorical, metrical and stylistical elements
belonging to text. The argument must be done in the central body of analyse.
importance to context means to locate poem in its own historical and cultural
period. It is important to describe main historical and cultural events
preceding writing of poem. Moreover a brief description of his life should be
done. Those procedures belong to the introduction. The final part of analyse
should be a summary of the elements founded into the poem. I wrote if my thesis
was totally demonstrated. It is not necessary that a thesis is totally
confirmed. The goal of a critical interpretation is to stimulate other debates.
The importance to the context is done also by the description of the historical
and cultural context after writing of a poem.
modest proposal: a “division” of Kljuev’s life in three parts
Three central chapters
of my dissertation correspond to three periods in Kljuev’s life.
I know that such a kind of division is disputable and opinable.
Life is continuos development. However I could find some trends,
that characterise poet’s life. From 1905 to 1918 he writes poems,
that are characterised by an idyll with nature but also from participation
to 1905 revolution
is marked by an enthusiasm for October revolution; third period represents
upsetting of values and the end of K.’s life.
1. Poet’s function.
Poet declares his own
function, he is a prophet, and he must respect Gods. Poet is not
Prometheus. K. is more than a poet. His own ideal is a medieval
Russia in which land has main importance. As I said before, K.
took part to 1905 revolution. Poem gde vj poryvie kipučie
is a good example. A linguistic aspect is particularly interesting.
We find concept of rodina. I translate this term with patria
(fatherland), but it is not a perfect translation, because it
is a different concept. The origin of this term is pod. Some other
terms have the same origin: roditeli (parents), rodnoj
brat (twin), rodnoj jazyk (mother language). It expresses
the act of generation. Land is personified; land is such a kind
of goddess. Rodina is principle of the world. I would like
to cite also sectarian concept of Mat’-Syra-Zemlja “Mother-Humid-Land”.
Rodina-sofia-bogorodiza-mat’-: a union among paganism,
religion and sectarism is the basis of K’s poetry. It is important
to understand tie with germanic concept Heimat Vaterland
that I analyse in my tesi di laurea.
For his own rodina a man should sacrifice himself.
This is the idea of scapegoat,
that is present in poem besotvetnjm rabom,
but also in many many cultures. I can find some resemblance with the idea of
Christ. Sacrifice is a mean to save his own life and life of other people.
Country is the centre of the rodina,
gives life, land is totality (gesamtheit),
is the kingdom of harmony between dionysiac and apollinean. I found an interesting
relationship between K. and Goethe about theme of spezialisierung (specialisation). They both live during
revolutions. First one lives during 1905 and 1917 revolution; second one lives
during industrial and French revolution.
They both appreciate those events. They both are convinced
specialisation is the direct consequence of those events. People star to
dedicate themselves to manual work. In USSR industrie becomes more and more
powerful, land starts losing importance. Cities grow more and more. Totality, gesamtheit is destroyed. Kljuev finds in
country his own totality. The big difference between those two 2 writers is
that Goethe finds a “solution”, Classicism and Entsagung, for his own
disappointment. Kljuev finds not a “solution” and dies.
in the Revolution
1. Lenin as Avvakum and Luther.
represents a great hope for many people, like, for example, peasants.
Sectarians and poet like Kljuev hope that Bolsheviks can improve
land’s destiny. K writes a poem called Lenin, in which
he paragons Lenin to Andrej Denissov, Avvakum and Luther. This
poem is a sort of political “manifesto”. K. thinks that Bolsheviks
can hold on Russia. Bolsheviks are initiated, they are part of
an “elite”, we could say. Etkind confronts skopçy to bolsheviks.
They are both initiated; they are both especially virtuous. Castration is a symbol of virtue and immortality,
gives a strong identity to those people, like political belonging.
Freud studies castration complex as fear to be castrated by father,
by reason of Oedipus complex. In this case sectarian community
represents mother and castrates in order to increase virtue. Father
does not punish anymore with castration, but by reason of castration.
Father is represented by zar regime. Androgynous, undifferentiated
is the consequence of castration. The androgynous is a symbol
of perfection, is a symbol of streben towards the original unit.
Also revolution wants to realise original unit by eliminating
classes fragmentation. Lenin is a moralising figure, like Luther
and Thomas Munzer, who should bring Russia to Middleage.
In this period
language utilised by this poet is more and more richer. I can speak of Kljuev’s
uses many terms belonging to nature, particularly to siberian nature. There are
some problems during translation, because many terms do not have an equivalent
in our language. I should also gather information about nature. I should also
put in notes to complete my translation.
has a strong relationship with religious sects, so he uses many terms belonging
to Old Church Slavonic and to Old Slavic. Some terms are part of sectarian
language, like брат, brother. This
terms means belonging to a religious sect. K. uses these terms and some people
think it was an implicit declaration of homosexuality. In those times
homosexuality is not accepted, many people die by reason of their
every man could be Christ. Etkind writes that an important member of
Chlysty says, in 1826, to some sect’s members, you are the temple of living God.
Sectarism is also pantheism. I find some bounds with Meister Eckart’s ideas. He
thinks that men unite with God through intellect, in which lies unity with God.
Every soul wishes this union. Sectarian “go” to God through radenie’s ritual, that
consists in dances, religious songs and music. These dances are often circular.
They lose normal life’s connection and spatio-temporal concatenations, they
realise a ritual that is similar to dionysiac esthasis. This sect is such a
kind of world, with many different tendencies. It is interesting to analyse
poem Menja Rasputnym nazvali. It is a
kind of poetologic poem. He confronts himself with Rasputin. Rasputin is an
important politics and a member of Chlysty. K. is a pure and chaste man,
Rasputin is sinful. Rasputin makes orgies, even if with a religious meaning.
As I said
before, paganism is one of the most important aspects of K’s poetry. Poet
thinks nature is live. Spirits live in the nature. Many people are
convinced spirits decide their own destiny. Spirits are ambiguous, because they
can be good with good people, but they become bad with bad people. In poem Ne ver’te, čto besy krylati I
translate besy with demoni (demons) and I explain in the
critical interpretation, the ambiguous character of those entities. Also in
italian exists term spiriti, but he
does not represent the same concept. Word spiriti
has a neutral meaning.
Desperation and death’s presages in the last phase of poet’s life
1. First death’s presages.
2. The values upsetting:
b) spiritual world.
3. Difficult relationship between USSR and
4. Lost of innocence.
5. Poet’s function.
6. The end.
After Lenin’s death
there is a big struggle to obtain power. There is many candidates,
Malenkov, Bucharin, Stalin, but, at the end, the last one will
be USSR leader. There are many disputes about this historical
period. Nowadays many people think S. is a cruel dictator, without
any kind of pity. A lot of historians think Stalin eliminates
democracy, makes massacres. Nevertheless there are other historians,
they think USSR was an encircled state and so finds itself in
an emergency state. Many fascists and democratic states are enemies
of USSR. One of causes of political upheavals of this period may
be this particular situation. What are poet’s reactions?
Poem Večer is a first example of K’s end. The idyll with nature is disturbed
by death’s presence. K. lives not well this situation. We know USSR and the
other states were mistrustful between each other. K. expresses this difficult
relationship in Mne revoljuzja ni mat’. We read about problems who had russians
emigrated in other states when they come back to USSR. We read about a meeting
between two men. First one is emigrated, second one lives in USSR, represented
by two coats, a “russian” coat and an european coat. Kljuev feels that his
world is in danger. He thinks many people forget sacred songs and pagan songs.
He quoted Alkonost, a goddess belonging to russian mythology. This is the
beginning of the end, the upsetting of traditional values. Village becomes more
and more troubled in Derevnja – son
brevenčatyj, dublenyj. Descriptions become more and more painful.
Nature’s descriptions are totally subjective. Also spiritual values are destroyed. An other good
example of K’s decadence is Rossia byla
glucha, chroma in which he becomes
Ganymed only for a day. Poet meets a female demon, description is crude,
realistic. He chooses oblivion, he refuses memory, because his world is dying.
period is marked by a description of poet’s function. Poet must establish goodwill
between people, poet will be soon killed. The end is arrived. Est’ dve strany; odna — Bolniza is a sad leave. His death was
misterious, in 1937. Many people die, war will start soon.
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istorii i drevnostej Rossijskich
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1883, Sekty chlystov’ i skoptçov’,
Kazan, Tipografija Imperatorckago Universiteta
VLADISLAVLEV, 1928, Literatura velikogo
desjatiletija, Moskva, Gozisdat
MUSTANGOVA, 1929, Sovremennaja russkaja
kritika, Leningrad, Priboj
PERCHIN, 1937, Russkaja literaturnaja
kritika 1930-ch godov, Sankt-Petersburg, S.-P. Izdatel’stvo
6. V.D. BONČ-BRUEVIČ, 1959, Izbrannye
Sočinenija (v trech tomach), Moskva, Izdatel’stvo Akademii
Nauk [In realtà i tomi sono 2, perché ne venne interrotta
AFANAS’EV, 1969, Sudb’y rossiskogo
krist’anstva, Moskva, RGGU
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[Munchen:], A. Neimanis Buchvertrieb und Verlag
9. N. KLJUEV, 1986, Stichotvorenija i poemy, Vologda, Severo-zapadnoe izdatel’stvo
10. A.I. MICHAJLOV,
1990, Puti razvitija novokrest’janskoj
poezii, L. Nauka
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revoluçija i reforma, Moskva, RGGU (Rossiskij Gosudartstvennyi
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radici culturali delle poesie dei poeti “neo-contadini”
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Facoltà di Lingue e Letterature Straniere, Università di Bologna
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Nikolaj Kljuev, un requiem alla Russia
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e Filosofia dell’Università degli Studi di Perugia, vol.XVI Nuova serie 10, pp. 227-245
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GATTO, 1995, Storia della Letteratura
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