Acts of Logos in Pushkin and Gogol: Petersburg Texts and Subtexts

Acts of Logos in Pushkin and Gogol: Petersburg Texts and Subtexts


Kathleen Scollins

Series: Liber Primus
ISBN: 9781618115829 (hardcover)
Pages: approx. 400 pp.; 6 illus.
Publication date: July 2017


Acts of Logos examines the 19th-century foundations of St. Petersburg’s famous literary heritage, with a focus on the unifying principle of material animation. Ever since Pushkin’s 1833 poem The Bronze Horseman, the city has provided a literary space in which inanimate things (noses, playing cards, overcoats) spring to life. Scollins’s book addresses this issue of animacy by analyzing the powerful function of language in the city’s literature, from its mythic origins—in which the tsar Peter appears as a God-like creator, calling his city forth from nothing—to the earliest texts of its literary tradition, when poets took up the pen to commit their own acts of verbal creation. Her interpretations shed new light on the canonical works of Pushkin and Gogol, exposing the performative and subversive possibilities of the poetic word in the Petersburg tradition, and revealing an emerging literary culture capable of challenging the official narratives of the state.

Kathleen Scollins is an assistant professor at the University of Vermont, where she teaches Russian language and literature in the Department of German and Russian.

Table of Contents

Prologue: In the Beginning Was Peter’s Word
Introduction: St. Petersburg
          Myth, Text, Word
1. Cursing at the Whirlwind
          The Book of Job according to Pushkin
2. Gambling Away the Petri-mony
          Rival Models of Social Advancement in Pushkin’s “The Queen of Spades”
3. Body Parts, Puff Pastries, and the Devil Himself
          Nevsky Prospect as the Hellmouth of Gogol’s Petersburg
4. Mertvye ushi
          The Annunciation Motif and Disorder of the Senses in “The Nose”
5. Kako sdelan Akakii
          Letter as Hero in “The Overcoat”
Conclusion: Beyond the Schism
Works Cited