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Religious perspectives in Soviet prose fiction 1964-1988: The animist/totemist dichotomy

Maryniak, Irena Wanda Maria; (1991) Religious perspectives in Soviet prose fiction 1964-1988: The animist/totemist dichotomy. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), University of London, School of Slavonic and East European Studies (United Kingdom). Green open access

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Abstract

The thesis explores religious themes in selected examples of Soviet prose fiction published officially between 1964 and 1988. In Part I the threefold relationship between religion, literature and political ideology is considered. It is proposed that religious models applied by Soviet writers may be helpfully related to an anthropological debate on the nature and development of religion, based on the theories of Edward B. Tylor and Emile Durkheim. Briefly, it is shown how the animist/totemist dichotomy highlighted by this controversy may be applied to Russian religious thought before the 1917 Revolution and to the literature of the Soviet era. Part II points to animist elements in writings by Valentin Rasputin, Chabua Amiredzhibi and Daniil Granin. It draws attention to the connection between Rasputin's religious vision and traditional Siberian beliefs, particularly those of the Buryat. Chabua Amiredzhibi's novel Data Tutashkhia is analysed with reference to Zoroastrian thought. Daniil Granin's 'Kartina' ('The Picture') serves as an example of a work in which notions of art and beauty take on an animist quality. Part III pays attention to literature revealing a tension between the animist vision and the totemic understanding of religion. It argues that early fiction by Chingiz Aitmatov reflects aspects of pre-Islamic Central Asian religious tradition. 'Komissiia' ('The Commission'), a novel by Sergei Zalygin, is treated as a work which asks how individual, spontaneous needs may be accommodated within a system of social and moral order. The writing of Vladimir Tendriakov offers a further example of a vision divided between an awareness of psychological dilemmas and loyalty to familiar sociological models. Part IV shows how Durkheim's theory of religion as an expression of collective self-consciousness may be related to ideas in works by the Russian nationalist writers: lurii Bondarev, Sergei Alekseev and Vasilii Belov. It suggests that particular examples of fiction by Petr Proskurin, Chingiz Aitmatov and Vladimir Tendriakov indicate a renewed interest in the God-building ideas of Maksim Gor'kii and Anatolii Lunacharskii. In conclusion, the thesis argues that the alternative religious vision introduced by Soviet writers between the fall of Khrushchev and the Millennium of Christianity in Rus' served as a model for society's subsequent reorientation and for new discourse under perestroika.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Religious perspectives in Soviet prose fiction 1964-1988: The animist/totemist dichotomy
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124287
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