The history of humanities as reflected in the evolution of K. Vaginov's novels

Ekaterina Velmezova


In the late 1920s – early 1930s, the Russian poet and novelist Konstantin Vaginov (1899–1934) wrote four novels which reproduce various discourses pertaining to the Russian humanities (philosophy, psychology, linguistics, study of literature) of that time. Trying to go back to the source of the corresponding theories and "hidden" quotations by identifying their authors allows us to include Vaginov's prose in the general intellectual context of his epoch. Analysing Vaginov's prose in the light of the history of ideas enables us to understand how a number of philological and philosophical trends were interpreted by particular groups of Soviet intellectuals (for instance, writers and poets who were Vaginov's contemporaries). Besides, it allows us to propose a new interpretation of Vaginov's novels and their evolution which corresponds to his perception of humanities around him: their many tendencies and peculiarities become unacceptable for the writer in the 1930s.


SIGN SYSTEMS STUDIES. ISSN 1406-4243 (print), 1736-7409 (online). E-mail: Postal address: Sign Systems Studies, Dept. of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Jakobi St. 2, 51014 Tartu, Estonia