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By Avril Pyman

This booklet is the 1st precise background of the Russian Symbolist move, which served because the seedbed of Existentialism and Modernism in Russia. It reassesses the symbolists' achievements within the gentle of contemporary learn, targeting their literary works. Prose is quoted in English translation and poetry is given within the unique Russian with prose translations. there's a precious bibliography of fundamental resources and an in depth chronological appendix. This booklet will fill a long-felt hole for college students and lecturers of Russian and comparative literature, symbolism, modernism, and pre-revolutionary Russian tradition.

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The exclamatory cries, the ardent staccato plea to wait, to understand, are not rhetorical only. They convey genuine emotion. Had the poem stopped there, we would have had a remarkable devotional lyric, if not yet a Symbolist poem. Merezhkovsky, however, liked to make sure he would be understood, and he continues for another twelve lines, ending on a note of pure abstraction: * 'A wayfarer from the sad North, to you, Olympian deities / Filled with sweet dread, I enter the ancient Pantheon. / Here only, o people, your spirit rivals the gods in greatness.

In fifty-two years they were never a single day apart and Merezhkovsky's human relationships were channelled through her. Pessimism and isolation is certainly the stuff of his poetry. 'I khochu, no ne v silakh liubit' ia liudei' ('I want, but have not the strength to love people'); . . 'No blizhnikh ne liubliu, kak ne liubliu sebia' ('But I do not love my neighbours, even as I do not love myself); 'la liudiam chuzhd i malo veriu / Ia dobrodeteli zemnoi' ('I am alien to people / and have little faith in earthly virtue'); 'Ia ne liubliu rodnykh moikh, druzia / Mne chuzhdy, brak - tiazhelaia obuza' ('I do not love my family, my friends / Are alien to me, marriage - a heavy burden').

Nevertheless, the idea of the 'two ways' of evil and of good did not last for long. Merezhkovsky, as he became more involved with the search for faith, gradually reversed the position defended in his early poetry and the first two novels of his historical trilogy (in which Julian the Apostate appears as an advocate of Antichrist, Leonardo da Vinci as above good and evil), and by 1901 considered himself a Christian and had explicitly rejected the Devil and all his works. He always maintained, however, that morality followed from belief in God and was totally secondary to it.

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