Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

The history of Russian literature between the Golden and Silver ages: the chrononyms issue

Fri31  Mar04:45pm(15 mins)
Gilbert Scott Room 356


Anastasia Kozyreva1
1 Inalco, France


While the legitimacy of the term "Silver age” of Russian literature is constantly questioned by international scholars, a similar chrononym i.e. "Golden Age" is often taken for granted in historiographic discourse. The "Golden Age of Russian Literature" usually refers to the early 19th century literature, including primarily the names of Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov. The "Silver Age of Russian Literature" refers to early 20th century literature and is often contested in terms of chronological, poetic and geographical references. Despite the vagueness of these two chrononyms, critics consistently use them in reference to each other, thus shaping a reception paradigm that sets limits to the understanding of 19th and 20th century Russian literature. 

By commenting on some examples of literary and critical texts from the 19th and early 20th centuries, I will first show that the expression "Golden age of Russian literature" is just as reductive as "Silver age of Russian literature". Secondly, I will explore the mechanism of poetic dialogue established between Russian literary modernism and nineteenth-century literature. Finally, I will argue that the use of such ambiguous terms in literary criticism serves the paradoxical purpose of "putting in order" complex phenomena of Russian literature.