“On the Crater of a Volcano”: V.A. Žukovskij and the Revolution of 1848
The topic of the Poet and Revolution, which has long been classical in Russian studies, usually considers the creative work of the authors who lived in the era of the revolutionary disturbances of the 20th century. However, this is not the only way to approach this issue: the revolution of 1917 cast a long shadow into the past, and it was already in the 1840s and 1850s that many thought that they lived ‘on the eve of’. The European upheaval of 1848 was experienced as a precursor to the coming Russian storms, as a prologue to the drama, which had yet to be played out on the stage of Russian history. One of the writers of the 19th century who had a chance to face the revolution was Vasilij Žukovskij. Žukovskij’s experience with revolution is even more interesting, given that his personal mythopoesis and ‘theo-political’ visions of the immediately preceding years (i.e., the early 1840s) were modeling – and indeed were seeing – a genuine approaching of Eden on Earth. The present paper examines the eve and the aftermath of the dramatic turn in Žukovskij’s life experience, through an analysis of his journalism, his relationship with the royal family, and mythopoesis in his poems Zaviduju portretu moemu, K russkomu velikanu etc.
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