Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Escaping Solitude: Twentieth-Century Russian Poets Speaking to Absent Friends

Fri31  Mar03:00pm(15 mins)
McIntyre Room 201


Katharine Hodgson1
1 University of Exeter, UK


Christopher Ricks suggests that allusion to other poets’ works can offer poets ‘a way of escaping solitude’. Twentieth-century poetry written in Russian in the USSR was shaped by a hostile environment of censorship and repression; poets writing in emigration found themselves isolated linguistically and culturally.

This paper is part of a larger project investigating how poets expressed in their work a sense of connection with one another and their predecessors, exploring how far their poetic practice was informed by models of sociability and interconnectedness found in the work of Pushkin and his contemporaries. Devices such as dedications, allusion, apostrophe, and prosopopoeia were used then to evoke a community of poets, the ‘сладостный союз поэтов’ celebrated by Pushkin in his 1824 ‘K Iazykovu’.

This paper will explore a selection of poems in Russian written in the twentieth century, by poets who alluded to their contemporaries and/or predecessors, to see how far earlier practices might have been adopted to express a sense of cultural continuity and assert the autonomy of poetry as a self-sufficient realm which offered a respite from solitude.