Eccentric creative consciousness is marked by the many contradictions inherent in being cast on the margins of paradoxically marginocentric geo-cultural sites. This book seeks to bring greater clarity to discrete urbane architectonics of modernist literature within a distended Western (including Slavic and Latin American) tradition. It traces different slants of the rational plane in modernist fictions by rupturing, deconstructing and reconstructing consciousness along differently temporalized and spatialized axes respectively aligned with concentric and eccentric cultural construction. The book redefines some of the dimensions, dynamics, creative capacities and critical contributions of discrete literary modernisms - concentric, but especially, eccentric. A distinction is made between pathologically memoried and mad (particularly manic and paranoid schizophrenic) modes of cultural consciousness, concentrated in reflexive citytexts respectively located at the centre of European modernism. The book re-examines the development of literal and literary landscapes underpinning paranoid schizophrenic constructions of eccentric consciousness in Nikolai Gogol's and Fyodor Dostoevsky's Petersburg tales and Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis's Rio narratives. It reconsiders these works as critical and creative responses to urbane European genres as well as earlier strains of Russian and Brazilian literary and artistic representation. The book focuses on eccentric consciousnesses framing the hallucinated cities drawn by writers including Andrei Bely, Mario de Andrade, Mikhail Bulgakov, Osman Lins, Clarice Lispector and Liudmila Petrushevskaya.
In the fictions of Fedor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky and Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis frequently follow eccentrics who approach others with nervous smiles and satirical smirks. Dostoevsky's and Machado de Assis's fictions are populated by eccentric characters who, like Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin, often mumble and gesture to themselves on the street. Dostoevsky's and Machado de Assis's eccentrics provoke that jostling in the street. Comparatively reconsidering dialogues in Dostoevsky's and Machado de Assis's narratives, this chapter argues against claims concerning dissembling and dehumanizing, disassembled and dead-ended underground narrative. Malcolm Jones notes in his study of Dostoevsky's Novel of Discord that the city and consciousness comprise a 'dynamic idea' that is continually being 'displaced'. Dostoevsky's and Machado de Assis's underground texts become central subtexts in Russian and Brazilian cultural memory, underpinning or serving as point of departure for continually displaced dissent.
The prison that generates Mario de Andrade's Hallucinated City can be mapped on the cityscape, in the eccentric citytext. Mario de Andrade hears the Brazilian city, with its particular Portuguese intonations, but sees in it also a series of other places, actual and literary. Russia's cities, Moscow especially, must be denaturalized to be rendered as eccentric. But the dissenting postmodern Russian citytext reads the Soviet capital as denatured and re-natures it through delirium, digression, divided consciousness and paradoxical dialogism. In Mikhail Bulgakov's Master and Margarita, the concentric city becomes alienating space, unmasked by posturing foreigners and demonic figures, refracted through alienated consciousness, inscribed in digressive narrative, possibly scribbled by a schizophrenic. The madness of both Bulgakov's and Liudmila Petrushevskaya's texts is literal, like that of Nikolai Gogol's narrator, even as it affects the literary.
Theory of the novel and the eccentric novel’s early play with theory
Sharon Lubkemann Allen
Russian and Brazilian nineteenth-century literature and early twentieth-century cultural theory anticipate and complicate Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's ideas of modernist fascicular and postmodern rhizomatic development. In self-conscious fictions as early as Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky's and Machado de Assis's, eccentric literature anticipates the contemporary theories and elucidates the 'transcultural' dynamics of an increasingly decentred, multicentred and cosmopolitan literature. This chapter traces many of the modern theories concerning alienated consciousness and culture to disruptions within the concentric city as well as to the challenges posed by post-colonialism. Nikolai Gogol and Machado de Assis play variants of this hand, as part of their gamble on eccentric authorship and authority. Sentencing eccentric culture, underground narrative turns out not to be a death sentence, but a modernist sentence that opens onto over a century of ethical reflection and rewriting.
The concentric citytext's casting of difference in terms of alienated and aberrant consciousness, dissenting and digressing on both social and aesthetic planes, may register as eccentricity. Eccentric creative consciousness is marked by the many contradictions inherent in being cast on the margins of paradoxically marginocentric geo-cultural sites. This chapter seeks to bring greater clarity to discrete urbane architectonics of modernist literature within a distended Western tradition. It traces eccentric anticipations of European modernisms and postmodernisms. The chapter examines the development of literal and literary landscapes underpinning paranoid schizophrenic constructions of eccentric consciousness in Nikolai Gogol's and Fyodor Dostoevsky's Petersburg tales and Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis's Rio narratives. It considers these works as critical and creative responses to urban/e European genres as well as earlier strains of Russian and Brazilian literary and artistic representation.
Modernist writers converge in St. Petersburg and Rio de Janeiro, Moscow and Sao Paulo, as in Paris, London, Lisbon, Prague, New York and other cities whose contours filter into their fictions. These cities concentrate publication venues, a reading public and the political and critical establishments that redefine modern literary production. Eccentric literature recalculates modernist time and place and structure, through the narrators who playfully and perversely cast themselves as deviants and their works as paradoxically authentic, authoritative and even ethical deviations. Cross-examining dynamics of urbane discourse and consciousness in discrete Russian and Brazilian contexts elucidates both eccentric derivations of European modernism and distinctly eccentric modes of modernist construction. Redesigned space and movement in these eccentrically circling narratives as alternative to and anticipation of the works of such concentric writers as Charles Pierre Baudelaire, Gustave Flaubert, Henry James and Thomas Stearns Eliot, examined by Georges Poulet.
Transpositions, translations and transformations of authority and authorship
Sharon Lubkemann Allen
Lines linking eccentric cities bend through space and time, stretching between St. Petersburg and Rio de Janeiro by curving through and around a European centre and a Eurocentric history. Russian and Brazilian literary criticism and theory are disciplines forged in an identity crisis concerning displaced language and forms in the eccentric city. Petersburg and Rio are represented as uniform spaces inhabited by uniformed figures, whose self-accused representatives expose the emptiness of arbitrarily imposed authoritative forms. Works such as Alexander Pushkin's 'The Bronze Horseman' and Nikolai Gogol's 'The Overcoat' revise the citytext by resurrecting and naming the dead. Both eccentric city and citytext are apocryphal text, representing unauthorized freedom. Petersburg and Rio are depicted as apocalyptic cities, representing the culmination and devastation of culture. I. N. Tynianov relates eccentric dynamics of political revolution again to the city's position and design, recalling the unfolding of Petersburg's revolts on squares grounds.
Alexander Pushkin's and Nikolai Gogol's texts, which become almost immediately canonical, parallel on literary terrain some of the paradoxes of Catherine's enlightened despotism and marginocentric empire. Contemporary with Cobbler Hoffman's and Victor Hugo's urban narratives, Gogol's tales similarly explore cultural consciousness by turning into commonplaces in the city and urban speech. If Pushkin's poema constitutes the cornerstone of the Petersburg text, Gogol's Petersburg tales fill out the foundation. Petersburg emerges in the ordinary erring of estranged characters in the city, digressions of skaz narrators and marginal writing of minor copy clerks, each challenging marginocentric authority and authorship, by reflecting on but also reflecting its contradictions. Gogol expresses in the relation of his Petersburg copy clerks to their writing both the reductive and creative capacities of the word placed in circulation.