Representations of Vladimir Maiakovskii in the Post-Soviet Russian Literary Canon
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis examines the position of the most canonical of official Soviet poets, Vladimir Maiakovskii, in the post-Soviet Russian literary canon. Maiakovskii’s status in the USSR was unchallengeable due to Stalin’s endorsement of him in 1935 as ‘the best, most talented poet’ of the Soviet era. This work will assemble evidence from a range of post-1991 publications to show how Maiakovskii’s position has been affected by the wide-ranging rejection of writers strongly identified as part of official Soviet culture, and examine the extent to which he has nevertheless retained his canonical status. A central question for discussion is how the representation of Maiakovskii has changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I analyse three different socio-cultural fields, which each have the potential to shape the literary canon: school education, literary anthologies and the public media. It is apparent that while Maiakovskii retains his canonical position, his representation has not only changed, but it also remains fluid, and several different (often contrasting) trends of representing the poet exist side by side. In each case I review how post-Soviet representations differ from the Soviet image of the poet. Taking into account the abrupt changes which the Russian literary canon went through in the 1990s and the intended target audience for each case of Maiakovskii’s representation to be investigated, I outline the reasons for these multiple versions of the poet’s life and legacy and argue how this multiplicity became possible in the first place. This work is designed to aid those who wish to have a deeper understanding of the particular position of Vladimir Maiakovskii within the contemporary canon. It also seeks to contribute to the body of research analysing the development of the Russian literary canon in the post-Soviet period.
Arts and Humanities Research Council
PhD in Russian