The uncanny in bazhov’s tales

Mark Naumovich Lipovetsky


P. P. Bazhov’s tales are considered  through the prism of S. Freud’s theory of the uncanny (Unheimlich). The analysis focuses on the previously unstudied motifs of death and sexuality in the tales and connects  the inner atmosphere of Malachite Casket with the atmosphere of fear and terror, which accompanied the   creation   of   tales,   as   well   as   substantiates   the   new   interpretation of The Mistress of the Copper Mountain as an alternative to the nationalism of Stalin’s epoch. The phantasm of escape, clearly present in the tales, corresponds  to the situation of  escape  from  Soviet  history. The elimination of  historical  traumas  by  means  of  sinister images  connects  Bazhov’s  creative work to magical historism (A. Etkind). Bazhov’s tales were at once frightening for the Soviet reader, as they told of death, fatal temptation and paralyzing impotence  in one’s hometown,  but also soothing,  since  they made  it possible to articulate the trauma resulting from the historical loss of local culture and the fear of grand motherland. Thus, Bazhov’s tales resonated within the Soviet individual and the collective unconscious. This can explain the success of Malachite Casket with generations of Soviet people and the tale’s cultural untranslatability.


20th century Russian literature; Soviet society; S. Freud; P. P. Bazhov; Malachite Casket; motif analysis.

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