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Authors: Ceballos, Lindsay Marie
Advisors: Wachtel, Michael A
Contributors: Slavic Languages and Literatures Department
Keywords: philosophy
Russian religious thought
Russian Symbolism
Subjects: Slavic literature
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation makes an argument for the significance of ancient and modern tragedy in the work of Russian (“first-generation”) Symbolist poets and religious thinkers associated with the Russian religious renaissance. Main authors studied are Konstantin Bal'mont, Nikolai Berdiaev, Valerii Briusov, Sergei Bulgakov, Viacheslav Ivanov, Maurice Maeterlinck, Dmitrii Merezhkovskii, and Nikolai Minskii. While interest in tragedy may be traced to the popularity of Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy in turn-of-the-century Russia, I argue that poets and thinkers gravitated to “tragic thinking” for not only aesthetic, but predominantly religious reasons. A particular mode of mythopoesis, tragic plots and characters offered narratives for poets and thinkers to examine the modern individual’s spiritual search. This inner search for spiritual transcendence is characterized by a focus on inner struggle (exemplified in modern tragedy), rather than externally imposed threats to the individual hero (ancient tragedy). I claim that this inner spiritual struggle, being connected to the ascetic tradition of Russian religious culture, calls for greater scholarly attention to the Symbolist reception of Nietzsche’s “Apollonian principle.” Chapter One deals with Nikolai Minskii, his philosophy of meonism, the relevance of Russian Symbolist reception of Maeterlinck in the context of Minskii’s changing conception of tragedy, and his modern tragic drama, Al'ma. Chapter Two examines Dmitrii Merezhkovskii’s tragic philosophy of love in the context of his literary work and essays on world literature. His translations of Greek tragedy reflect his formulation of a non-sexual erotic love. Chapter Three is devoted to Valerii Briusov’s dystopian tragedy Zemlia (Earth). Through analysis of previously unknown Mesoamerican and spiritualist subtexts of Zemlia, I read Briusov’s drama as an ironic response to early Symbolist Christian interpretations of tragedy. In the conclusion, I focus on the special case of the Moscow Art Theater’s stage adaptation of Dostoevskii’s Besy (Devils). The religious-philosophical response to this production is presented as the final chapter in the Symbolist reception of tragedy: the “novel-tragedy” and the drawbacks of tragedy as theater.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Slavic Languages and Literatures

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