My work (2)

I’ve added another piece of my research, this time a paper I delivered earlier this year as part a Gogol’ bicentenary panel at the BASEES annual conference. The paper was a bit of a departure from my current preoccupations, but the idea arose while I was teaching my final-year undergraduate course on Modern Russian Prose Fiction (1917-1941), when I noticed a strange recurrence of images of dismemberment and decapitation in a number of the texts we were studying: stories by Daniil Kharms and Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, and Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita. As soon as I started digging deeper, I realized that these were far from being the only such references in Russian literary works from around the 1920s and 1930s. It seems obvious that all these works lead back to Gogol’s short story The Nose, and the paper explores some of the themes suggested by this connection.

Although I think I’m reasonably well adjusted (for an academic), this is not the first time I’ve written about dismemberment. My article ‘The Convict Unbound: The Body of Identity in Gulag Narratives’, Gulag Studies, 1 (2008), 57-75 (sadly not available online) examines the significance of acts and fantasies of self-mutilation in Shalamov’s stories.

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