«Imitating Dionysius, a primary figure within the Symbolist culture, this book seeks hybrid and dynamic processes, co-presences, and ambivalence, tracking down the many works in which the strict categories of “East” and “West,” “Classicism” and “Modernity,” “Russia” and “Europe” are reversed and reformulated into new paradigms.»
The Russian Symbolist period reformulated its own cultural identity from a spatial point of view, shaping an imaginary place formed by the hybridisation between Ancient Greece and the Orient: this is the main idea of this essay, that regards geographical space as a tool to read literary and cultural history in a new way. The book maps the Russian Zeitgeist – roughly from 1890 to 1917 – according to the descriptions of the “Russian Self” made by Andrej Belyj, Valerij Brjusov, Valentin Serov, Michail Vrubel’, Lev Bakst, and Dmitrij Mendeleev, just to name a few. Through an extensive use of montage and an intentionally loose application of chronological and typological definitions, the analysis reveals how Russian thought, in the syncretic Symbolist period, lays the foundations for a new Self, interpreted not as a sum of incoherent elements, but as a coherent holistic space.
Martina Morabito is Adjunct Professor of Russian Literature and Russian Culture at the University of Urbino Carlo Bo, and Adjunct Professor of Russian Language at the University of Milan. She focuses her research interests on Russian Symbolism and its conceptualisation of geographical spaces. As well as publishing on Russian Orientalism, Thing Theory, and Literary Cartography, she has published and translated the Japanese-style verses of Russian Symbolist writers Andrej Belyj, Valerij Brjusov, and Konstantin Bal’mont.