DO WE HAVE LITERATURE? CONCEPTS "LITERATURE" AND "SLOVESNOST’" IN RUSSIAN CRITICISM
Authors: Vladimir N. Zakharov
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The article examines some episodes of the debates between Russian critics and writers on the question whether there was literature in Russia in the 1820s–1830s, if it had a poor or abundant content in the 1860s–1880s, and if Russian literature has a future (1990s–2010s). The disputes between A. S. Pushkin and I.V. Kireevsky, V. G. Belinsky and Russian writers, F. M. Dostoevsky and the adherents of utilitarianism, Westernizers and Slavophiles brought to light different meanings of concepts literature and slovesnost’ (i.e. literature that preaches the Word/Logos). These polemics provided new ideas and conceptions: literature should be slovesnost’ expressing the national spirit, Russian literature should become national and European. In 1880, in his speech dedicated to Pushkin, Dostoevsky declared that Russian literature had become world literature. The crisis in contemporary literature has fueled the old debates on literature and slovesnost’, their future, ideas and ideal. Russian literature has a safety margin — its past; its honourable future is also possible.