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Mandel'shtam's Poetics

Mandel'shtam's Poetics: A Challenge to Postmodernism

Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 194
  • Book Info
    Mandel'shtam's Poetics
    Book Description:

    Osip Mandel?shtam (1891?1938) is considered by many to have been the best Russian poet of his era. This book is the first attempt to describe in a comprehensive way Mandel?shtam?s intellectual world and its effect on his evolution as a thinker.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7696-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    The quality of this book that perhaps first captures the eye of the reader is the balance it carefully establishes between caution and courage. Indeed, if a topic conceals within itself as many difficulties, dangers, and unexpected twists as does the subject of this work, then it demands from the author a conscious preparedness for risk. Mandel’shtam is the virtuoso of precisely planned, diametrically opposed judgments pronounced in the very same period of his life, and often in the very same text. Within a single line a word may stand seemingly perpendicular to its neighbours, and this is no passing...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-2)
  5. Mandel’shtam: A Biographical Note
    (pp. 3-4)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 5-12)

    Given the apparent impenetrability or the intentionally chaotic nature of Mandel’shtam’s prose writings about poetry, contemporary scholarship must eventually confront the following question: do Mandel’shtam’s observations on poetry make a substantial contribution to poetics? Ours is not an age that grants privileged status to what the writer has to say about the writing process. Even according to that benign man of letters Northrop Frye, ‘The poet’s task is to deliver the poem in as uninjured a state as possible, and if the poem is alive, it is equally anxious to be rid of him, and screams to be cut loose...

  7. 1 Meaning and Blank: The First Decade of Mandel’shtam’s Poetics
    (pp. 13-28)

    The progression of Mandel’shtam’s ideas about poetry can be traced in the transformation of images united by intuitive, metaphoric associations. Within these rich series of metaphoric and imaginative associations Mandel’shtam’s early essays develop a binary opposition between word and blank that foreshadows the theoretical development of postmodernism. There is definite if almost imperceptible development, hitherto unrecognized, in Mandel’shtam’s position from the theoretical confidence of ‘The Morning of Acmeism,’ ‘Remarks on Chenier,’ and ‘Peter Chaadaev’ to the eventual sense of loss, and even despair, of ‘Pushkin and Skriabin,’ in which there is so profound an impasse that one may question whether...

  8. 2 The Word in Mandel’shtam’s Poetics
    (pp. 29-39)

    This chapter traces the changes in Mandel’shtam’s conception of the word, from his earlier metaphoric identification of the word with stone and his subsequent partial alienation from that metaphor, to his tendency to see the word as possessing a dual nature, an inner and outer reality, and finally to his recognition that this dual nature does not exhaust the word’s essence. This realization is reflected in Mandel‘shtam’s presentation of the word as an energy flow that strikes consciousness as a series of changing perspectives.

    Mandel’shtam’s earliest tendency is to regard words as tangible material acquisitions – as things. In ‘François...

  9. 3 The Word in Action: The Hypnotic Power of Poetry
    (pp. 40-53)

    Since poetry for Mandel’shtam is the display of the word in its full reality [slovo kak takovoe], the poetic word is invariably described in his work as an intensified experience of language. This chapter outlines Mandel’shtam’s varying perceptions of the principles that are involved in this intensification and, thus, in the different metaphorical presentations of the word. The nature of the poetic word is explored, starting from the earlier notions of hypnotism, then turning to the idea of opposed dual commands, and finally examining the word as invitation to follow out its own multidimensional journey.

    Profoundly connected with Mandel’shtam’s view...

  10. 4 The Participation of the Reader
    (pp. 54-67)

    The principles involved in listening to, and receiving, the vibrant word of poetry also formed a necessary part of Mandel’shtam’s interest in the phenomenon of poetic communication. This chapter will trace Mandel’shtam’s thought about the patterns of the reception of poetry, starting from the notion of poetry as dialogue, then moving to the idea of reception as flight in pursuit of a word that eludes capture, and ultimately coming to his final position that the processes involved in reception extend from an instinctual, organic response to a highly complex activity, all the stages of which can be represented by means...

  11. 5 Periodization in the Transmutation of the Poetic Landscape. Metamorphosis of the Addressee in the 1930s
    (pp. 68-110)

    Mandel’shtam’s writings of the 1930s –Journey to Armenia, ‘Around the Naturalists,’ and particularlyConversation about Dante¹ – confront the reader with brilliant, highly original, and undeniably ambitious attempts to identify the widest range of characteristics of poetic communication. These are principally the description of periodization and the specific qualities of the series of conversions and reconstitutions of what Mandel’shtam begins to termpoetic materia. While scornfully dismissing all scholastic interpretations of theDivina commedia,² Mandel’shtam nevertheless closely approaches the pagan and Christian roots of Dante’s philosophical thought. Mandel’shtam’s depiction of the poetic texture is here reminiscent of the substantial...

  12. 6 Conclusion: The Theoretical Implications of Mandel’shtam’s Poetics
    (pp. 111-148)

    The object of this concluding chapter is to determine the theoretical implications of Mandel’shtam’s poetics and to place them, however tentatively, against the background of literary theory. One word of caution needs to be given at the outset: the history of literary theory in the twentieth century has been enormously fertile and multifaceted, but this study must be limited to a finite number of theoretical questions; otherwise any conclusion will be impossible to draw.

    This book remains primarily and emphatically a textual work, which argues throughout that one cannot get close to Mandel’shtam’s thought about poetry from a single work...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 149-176)
  14. References
    (pp. 177-188)
  15. Index
    (pp. 189-194)