Writing the unwritable : melancholia in the works of Mikhail Zoshchenko

Jinks, Sean Ernest (2012) Writing the unwritable : melancholia in the works of Mikhail Zoshchenko. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This study seeks to show how the literary legacy of Mikhail Zoshchenko (1894-1958) can productively be understood as a sustained textual engagement with the writer's own melancholia. Drawing equally on present-day critical approaches which increasingly emphasize the unity of life and art in the works of Zoshchenko, and on a psychoanalytically-influenced model of textual melancholia, this study posits and analyzes a melancholy component of the broader comic aesthetic that typified Zoshchenko's early work and on which, to a large degree, Zoshchenko's reputation still rests today. The study then proceeds to trace the development of this textual melancholia beyond its aesthetic representation in earlier works to show an increasingly direct discursive elaboration of the condition in works written after 1927.

This evolution in the textual refraction of the writer's melancholia is shown to extend into the writer's later 'medical' works where they acquire a more or less explicit therapeutic function and become a kind of culturally nuanced Soviet language of melancholia. This development is contextualised by reference to Soviet conceptions of mental illness and a Soviet medical establislunent characterized by an unusually dominant physiological understanding of the mind. Throughout, the study aims to demonstrate how a reading of the Zoshchenko oeuvre in terms of melancholia can deepen and broaden critical understandings of this enigmatic writer, opening up a hitherto neglected ideational component of Zoshchenko's art.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Hellebust, R.E.
Milne, L.M.
Subjects: P Language and literature > PG Slavic, Baltic, Albanian languages and literature
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
Item ID: 13998
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2014 12:47
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2017 18:44
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/13998

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