Shapes of Apocalypse: Arts and Philosophy in Slavic Thought

Shapes of Apocalypse: Arts and Philosophy in Slavic Thought

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Edited by Andrea Oppo

Series: Myths and Taboos in Russian Culture
ISBN: 9781618111746 (hardcover), 9781618118240 (paperback)
Pages: 288 pp.
Publication Date: May 2013

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This collective volume aims to highlight the philosophical and literary idea of “apocalypse,” within some key examples in the “Slavic world” during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. From Russian realism to avant-garde painting, from the classic fiction of the nineteenth century to twentieth-century philosophy, and not omitting theatre, cinema or music, there is a specific examination of the concepts of “end of history” and “end of present time” as conditions for a redemptive image of the world. To understand this idea means to understand an essential part of Slavic culture, which, however divergent and variegated it may be in general, converges on this specific myth in a surprising manner.

Andrea Oppo (PhD University College Dublin) is associate professor of aesthetics at the Pontifical Faculty of Theology of Sardinia (Italy). He is the author of Philosophical Aesthetics and Samuel Beckett, Estetiche del negativo. Studi su Dostoevskij, Cechov e Beckett (2009), and numerous articles on Russian religious philosophy and the relationship between philosophy and the arts.


This collection enhances our knowledge and understanding of the apocalyptic vision in Russia and Eastern Europe. It introduces experts on Russia to important figures in Bohemia, Croatia, and Poland, and it offers fresh interpretations of well-known Russian authors.
— Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal (Fordham University), in the Slavic and East European Journal, 59.1 (Spring 2015)
The volume should be of interest to specialists of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russian literature and the arts, the Eastern Orthodox Church, or Slavic spirituality in general. While there is great variation among the authors of the ten essays, they all address their genres from a religious or spiritual point of view. As a result, the reader will find some unexpected ‘reads’ of familiar works in the literary and arts sections and an interesting variety of opinions regarding Eastern Orthodoxy and apocalypse in the philosophy section.
— Sarah Predock Burke, Trinity University, in The Russian Review, January 2014 (Vol. 73, No. 1)
For anyone concerned with or interested in the topic of the apocalypse in arts, literature and philosophy in Slavic culture this book would be invaluable and it is likely to become a primary reference source for future research in the study of religious concepts in general, and the apocalypse in particular.
— Ayse Dietrich, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, in the International Journal of Russian Studies, January 2014.
This volume, spanning such diverse areas as philosophy, literature, music, art, and film, is broadly appealing to an interdisciplinary audience interested in both Slavic and non-Slavic conceptions of the apocalypse.
— Michael Pesenson, professor of Slavic Studies, University of Texas at Austin
William J. Leatherbarrow’s essay (previously published in 1982) on apocalyptic imagery in Dostoevskii’s The Idiot and The Devils is an outstanding model of concise, elegant and lucid analysis. Although the author modestly refers to it as a ‘working paper’ (p. 132) and draws only tentative conclusions, he succeeds in integrating his evidence into a focused and persuasive argument on Dostoevskii’s use of apocalyptic motifs to highlight the moral failure of utopianism and the dream of the Golden Age....[R]eaders will undoubtedly find unusual materials, novel approaches and stimulating ideas in this volume, which is attractively produced and pleasant to handle.
— Pamela Davidson, UCL SSEES, in Slavonic and East European Review (vol. 92, no. 3, July 2014)

Table of Contents

List of Contributors

Part One: Philosophy

Andrea Oppo
The Tilted Pillar: Rozanov and the Apocalypse
Giancarlo Baffo
Salvation Without Redemption: Phenomenology of (Pre-)History in Patočka’s Late Work
Riccardo Paparusso

Part Two: Literature

The Sacrament of End. The Theme of Apocalypse in Three Works by Gogol’
Vladimir Glyantz
Apocalyptic Imagery in Dostoevskij’s The Idiot and The Devils
William J. Leatherbarrow
Black Blood, White Roses: Apocalypse and Redemption in Blok’s Later Poetry
Irene Masing-Delić
Apocalypse and Golgotha in Miroslav Krleža’s Olden Days: Memoirs and Diaries 1914-1921/1922
Suzana Marjanić

Part Three: Music and Visual Arts

The Apocalyptic Dispersion of Light into Poetry and Music: Aleksandr Skrjabin in the Russian Religious Imagination
Polina Dimova
From the Peredvižniki’s Realism to Lenin’s Mausoleum: The Two Poles of an Apocalyptic-Palingenetic Path
Chiara Cantelli
Theatre at the Limit: Jerzy Grotowski’s Apocalypsis cum Figuris
Andrea Oppo
On Apocalypse, Witches and Desiccated Trees: A Reading of Andrej Tarkovskij’s The Sacrifice
Alessio Scarlato

List of Works Cited