BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Doppelganger and Totalitarian Discourse: the case of Vysotsky

Fri8  Apr02:00pm(20 mins)
Umney Lounge


Georgii Khazagerov


Despite long-standing, intense interest in duality, impact of duality literature on public discourse in Russia has not yet been studied. Dmitry Likhachev viewed Russian 17th century twin stories as development of literary character. We argue it can be applicable to development of social dialogue itself. A hypothesis is that development of polemic genres is preceded by “protopolemica” which occurs when epideictic genres, like preaching or propaganda, dominate society. Real polemic is preceded by literary drama. Shakespeare's dramas played a role in development of judicial and parliamentary rhetoric. Another path similar to drama is duality with its internal dialogue.

For centuries Russian culture experienced deficit of polemical principles. 19th century saw improvements, but onset of totalitarianism reversed this. At the end of Soviet period, Vysotsky’s creativity and popularity flourishes. As per opinion polls, he is second most popular person after Gagarin. Many Vysotsky’s texts are associated with duality. His monologues are essentially minidramas. Vysotsky ridiculed common places of Soviet thinking and expanded the agenda beyond propaganda limits. The article analyses dualistic poems by Vysotsky, including an appeal to 17th century subjects.

It can be concluded that Vysotsky's work largely paved the way for revival of polemics during Perestroika.