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The Petty Demon
The characters lack the infinite incompleteness that could only be manifested in one's forestalling onesell in virlue. The elaboration of this thesis requires a preiiminarv discussion of the ilner structure of dle I. Ilsqe arp 'i1uo :? Io Terlos se paglsselr 3q deur aLftftr ro Fa zr9! Sologub,a'1 ,A. I' the u'orld of the novel, sinister fbrces reveal dreraselves i,n the seeming regulariw of existence or in eveqrday routines and detailed naturalistic descriptions are combined with the explication of dre hero's mad dreams.
On dre one hald, the paradox can be explained bv Bakhtin's statement that the immanent larv of logic engenders the hostile force which threatens the rvorld: "Logical clariq'and compulsow consistency, rvhen isolated from the unique and united initial point of ansv'erable cottsciousness. On the other hand, Sologub is in large part a successorto the Russian "classic" tradition of the 19'r'cenfi. In our opinion, Sologub depicts the degradation of rhe acr's meaninu 'and dre corruprion of the volition that is supposed to bring. E: ;ll. The pathos of the novel lies in the absence of an intern.
The ciraracters in their acts rely on ir number of generally accepted standards of behar,'ior and social conr. IJrc Jo uortulol. Rerigion is divested of its positive mearring in sologub's novel. Tlrcse "earthi-,ound rules" determine the re. The characters' obedience to the lau, or compliance rnith the audrorities' instmctions is not based cln a r:ecognition that such an expression of rvill pla,r,'sa significalt or yaluable role. They recoglize the validiry of the lau. The life in dre "ror'n" is depicted as meaningless and accidental. Tlris seems to be dre sense of the folou'ing metaphor TI-:equier area of poor life became confined w'ithin itself, full of lo'ging and year-nine" Sologub, a: The "poor lifb" shourd probably be uriderstood as poor in vitalitt', spirit, and meaning.
Perceiving othem in the most objectified n alr and neglecting their r. For instance. Recall, for instance, Peredor-rov'sattraction to the srnell of manure in a field, w'l'rich he believed to be a sigr-rof pragmatisn-r. These theories, ho,. Jsaqr3o 1p 'satr 'suoqqlJ 'csuatrut'sdiurl po 'solputr :ool 'escql eqr gi 'Sur8urs'slqo. Jlasreli 8ui'firruepi sl epupn 1 '. Iarloql uee,!!? This irappe's becarxe of the heroi'e's cornplete ernpathy with the aesthetic bei'g. In effecr, r''e observe something that Bakhtin, in respect to art and aesdretics,calls "possession". Lrnrdmila,s full entrance into the realm of the aesthetic, rvhere any unique iclentiry dissolves and the disti'ction befi,vee' the subject and the object is lost, is 'ot an ansu'erable rejection of her uniqueness, an act of her self-denial for the salie of her aesthetic hlpostasis so'rething tirat, for instance.
In this edition these censored sections are appended, and all are keyed so that the reader can place them in the novel as it was written. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 16th by Harry N. Abrams first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Petty Demon , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. The novel characters live in the primeval boondocks and they behave as if they were sunstruck — lethargy and melancholia and gloominess prevail.
In a one-horse town they just have one-way thoughts and every new day is a little bit madder than the day before. And to this day it remains one of the most original books in the world literature. True, people love to be loved. They like to have the lofty and noble aspects of their souls depicted. Therefore they cannot believe it when they are faced with a depiction that is faithful, precise, gloomy and wicked. The process of reading Petty Demon is a slow descent into the abysmal twilight… View all 4 comments.
Fyodor Sologub Smooth is the surface of my mirror and pure its construction. Repeatedly measured and painstakingly checked, it has not a single blemish. The watershed between the realist canon of the 19th century Russian novel and the modernist novels of the Russian literary Silver Age was Fyodor Sologub's The Little Demon , but this striking novel still has sharp teeth and is of much more than just historical interest. It is inventive, engaging and very aptly expressed; it a Fyodor Sologub Smooth is the surface of my mirror and pure its construction.
It is inventive, engaging and very aptly expressed; it also offers the reader no hope for the human race. Born Fyodor Kuzmich Teternikov into the family of a poor tailor who died early of tuberculosis, he somehow managed to graduate from the St. Petersburg Teachers' Institute and begin a career as provincial secondary school teacher. In light of the way he describes provincial life in The Little Demon, he must have found that time trying, but in he wrangled a transfer back to the capital, where he began writing poetry, fiction, plays and criticism seriously.
The Petty Demon [Russian Edition]
A survivor, he climbed the administrative ladder of the Tsarist education establishment, welcomed the February Revolution and became the head of the Union of Artists, then opposed the October Revolution and nonetheless ended up the head of the Leningrad Union of Writers under the Soviets. From on he was engaged at the heart of the Petersburg literary scene, interacting with Andrei Bely, Osip Mandelstam and Anna Akhmatova, to mention just a few.
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But what about that watershed novel? According to Sologub himself, he began The Little Demon in , and a not quite complete version was serialized in The final version was not published until Though he wrote a great deal else during that time, it is evident both from the text itself and from Sologub's proud preface from which the above quote is extracted that he fashioned and re-fashioned his masterpiece, yes, painstakingly. The main character, Ardalyon Borisovich Peredonov, is a high school teacher in an unnamed snakepit of a provincial town just like his creator ; he is unspeakably self-centered, monstrously dull-witted, pusillanimous, gluttonous, absent of any scruples, and sliding ever deeper into the madness of paranoia.
The townsfolk are hardly any better, both male and female - the words "stupid," "torpid" and "dull" occur again and again in the narrator's description of the characters. Two of the characters are described as "boredom machines. But Sologub was not rehearsing old tricks. Previously, provincial life had been examined with the purpose of urging improvement, progress and the hope of change; there is no such prospect of change, no such hope in The Little Demon, where all that is outside the anonymous town is spectral, unreal.
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Only the pointless, pathetic goings-on in that Everyplace and Noplace really exist. And antiheroes had been used to satirize some class, attitude or characteristic with the intent of, once again, urging improvement, progress and the hope of change. Not here. About you. If so, then his readers had grounds for taking offense, for in Sologub's mirror everyone crawls on their bellies like snakes.
Along the way Sologub jettisons the basic tenet of 19th century Russian literature that everything can, indeed must get better, and he throws in some "perversions" his forebears chose to omit from their works.
The Petty Demon
Instead of clarioning the expected notes of disapproval and outrage, the initially objective narrator becomes a bit flustered as Lyudmila slowly gains influence over the boy and the relationship crosses bounds that may have some readers squirming, while his prose changes in tone and intensity. These passages contain the only real feelings in the text aside from the greed, ambition and envy that otherwise saturate it. Not surprisingly, a great furor was generated by The Little Demon, and apparently no small amount of this furor expressed itself as ad hominem attacks on the author.
But the book quickly went through several editions. I am most curious to know if it had some direct influence on writers like Andrei Bely and, if so, what was the nature of the influence. As pessimistic as this text is, the black nihilism of some Soviet works is quite absent; and as hopeless as it may be, the indescribable emotional state of the later Beckett is still far distant.
Mankind had yet to plunge into the bottomless depths of the 20th century, which may well have been the worst century in its sad history. On the other hand, when reading about an egotistical and limitless windbag like Donald Trump in a novel one might suspect that an exaggeration was being made for laughs; and a leading Republican contender for the Presidency of the United States of America who flatly asserts that the pyramids in Egypt were built as granaries by Joseph could well have been a character in a Vonnegut novel.
Reality is still stranger than fiction. Peredonov's particular idiosyncrasy of this type was henceforth referred to in Russia by his name. View all 10 comments. I think a lot of modern authors should read stuff like this, and understand that compared to this novel from Sologub, their work is just dull masturbation. There is a lot of dialogue, the book has a very rapid pace. However, everything is where it is supposed to be, no piece of dialogue is too much.
There is comic, there is laughter but boy, that is actually Yes!
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There is comic, there is laughter but boy, that is actually some sort of sad grin. Do we feel sorry for Peredonov? Sologub presents phantastically the aggravation of the disease. The way Peredonov deals with the playing cards is priceless. Boy I loved the characters. The cat is present in both books. Plus a whole system of institutions.
Did you also think at Hieronymus Bosch? Thank you Adriana for your great recommandation. View 1 comment. Jul 06, Chuck LoPresti rated it it was amazing. Symbolism is a word that is so variably applied that it has almost become worthless. There's the academic and IMO masturbatory symbolism of Jarry, the complex transcendent system of metaphysical signification that is present in Scriabin and Bely, the hazy expansive undefined-ness of Maeterlink and so on but Sologub, in this work is none of these.
His symbolism instead is something of an aloof determinant that has no saving grace or final answer but it does promote a deep understanding of the ter Symbolism is a word that is so variably applied that it has almost become worthless. His symbolism instead is something of an aloof determinant that has no saving grace or final answer but it does promote a deep understanding of the terms and conditions that result in human interaction. Nobody calls Knut Hamsun a symbolist in term of decadence - but moreso in his comparison of nature and man in an attempt to posit a phenomenology of experience as being at the same time within and above man.
Sologub's writing works much the same way. Social criticism is never too far from the root concern in almost all forms of symbolism. Like Pere Ubu - this work mocks a teacher with amazingly effective results. Although where Jarry elevated Ubu to king status - Sologub repeatedly stomps Peredonov into the muck of the most loathsome failure of an existence.
It's also something of a picaresque story in that it features serializes attempts of a man to negotiate society with punishingly similar results. Where Don Quixote teaches the reader to love a fool in the same way Rabelais encouraged readers to love themselves through the acceptance of Gargatua and Pantagruel, Sologub entertains in a different way - much more like Bulghakov and Ensor whos distaste for crowds resulted in humorous observation and scathing rejection.
Sologub invites readers to gaze upon his creations with understanding at a distance much like a scoutmaster might govern interactions with wildlife that is most beautiful when viewed with caution and reverence. Many of Sologub's short works are more focus on natural symbolism and operate in a crepuscular haze that recalls Nerval - but the haze clears as the Little Demon unfolds into one of the best social satires I've had the pleasure to experience.
Something like Walser's unattached but penetrating observance is present here - but where Walser's themes seem to start at the microscopic level, revealing transcendence as they progress - Sologub's prose works in the opposite direction where the details boiled down from the social interactions operated as conclusion. And wine. Shelves: 20th-centurylit-early , russia. I'm sorry to say I hadn't heard of this book before; or if I had, I didn't recognize it when I saw it on a friend's bookshelf after a few hours of drinking wine.
That was a few months ago. It took me a while to clear time in my reading schedule for this one, and then I started thinking I'd breeze through it, but found very early on this was not going to be a quick read. This is supposedly the funniest Russia I'm sorry to say I hadn't heard of this book before; or if I had, I didn't recognize it when I saw it on a friend's bookshelf after a few hours of drinking wine. This is supposedly the funniest Russian novel.
I'm always intrigued by comments like that, but at the end of the day I totally suck at reading books called the "funniest". I'm so busy looking for the humor that sometimes when I'm disappointed when the humor happens. It's almost anticlimactic. But I'm also a fan of Russian novels, semi-obscure the better.
So I trudged on. In this novel we have Peredonov, a truly messed up human being of a schoolteacher. He is a nasty, nasty guy, which of course makes him delicious to read. A GR friend's review mentioned similarities to Ignatius K. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces which probably would have been a kiss of death for me had I read that before I started this book. I don't care for novels that make me want to laugh at the awful things the character has to endure, it just feels mean-spirited.
The difference here, I felt, was that Peredonov is also certifiable, which actually made his actions somewhat interesting to me, instead of just being a caricature of himself. He's an actual antihero instead of just a literary whipping post. There's a lot going on behind scenes, of course, because this is a Russian novel and that's what Russian novels are all about.
Aside from Peredonov's antics, there's also Sasha and Lyudmila, and their strange and strained relationship. However, maybe I'm being too sensitive, but I feel that the reader is meant to laugh at Sasha specifically, an androgynous young man who ultimately wears dresses, and that made me feel sad.