Destruction of the Pretexts in Dystopia («The Slynx» by T. Tolstaya)

In this article, the authors consider the features of the intertext poetics employed in the novel «Slynx» by Tatyana Tolstaya. The genre of dystopia, which basic characteristics this novel reveals, is considered as a discourse that has established its normative features in a retrospective dialogue with previous texts. The pretexts widely presented in the novel and the nature of their interaction with the receiving text are revealed. Various forms of transformation of intertextual elements implicated in the narrative lead to a violation of the original meanings of the pretext, creates an ironic narrative intonation of the novel, and carries the author's main artistic intentions. The linguistic transformation of logoepistemic texts in Tolstoy's novel represents the linguocognitive mutation of «post» society, its civilizational degradation. The destruction of the logocentric picture of the world indicates the impotence of the Word as a carrier of cultural meanings, its inability to structure a new valueable reality, or to restore lost connections with previous cultural paradigms.

Wholly dead will be our knowledge from the moment when the portal of the future shall be closed.

Dantc. Да и то сказать: Прежние наших слов не понимают, а мы ихних.

Из романа «Кысь».

The novel «The Slynx» by T. Tolstaya has been acknowledged by researchers as «the last Russian novel of the twentieth century», which emphasizes its special position in the historical and literary process. Lev Rubinstein defines this work as a new «encyclopedia of Russian life» [1]. Despite the fact that the assessments of the novel have been quite contradictory, it is undoubtedly seen as a kind of summary of the development of literary trends of the century, primarily of the traditions of postmodernism.

The genre nature of the novel reveals obvious connections with the dystopian canon. In Tolstaya's novel, the classic genre markers of dystopia are obviously employed. As a rule, the novel is referred, though with certain reservations, to the genre of dystopia (or post-dystopia). If we examine the genre from the normative approach, dystopian texts reveals a number of invariant characteristics that determine their genre nature. These characteristics are related to different levels of the structure of literary texts, including formal content and functional aspects.

Like the classic dystopia, «The Slynx» depicts a society formed as a result of the negative consequences of the scientific and technological progress, it tries to comprehend its possible social, political and moral consequences. The novel depicts the world where Hassan's «process of disintegration of the world of things» took place and is perfectly accomplished. At the same time, the genre canons of dystopia themselves are deliberately emphasized, become the subject of demonstration, and thus are subjected to parodic destruction. The novel repeats the main formal features of classic dystopian plots, «which creates a parody image of the dystopian literature itself» [2; 102].

Dystopia traditionally attaches fundamental importance to language, and language experiments become the basis for both the conceptual meanings of classical dystopia and its formal implementation. The destruction of natural language has become one of the important genre features of dystopia, which represents an artistic picture of an alternative reality, a kind of anti-myth about the social structure of the future society. Language becomes one of the main problematic concepts in the dystopian discourse. It implements the understanding of language, developed by the philosophers and linguists of the 19th century, as a key factor determining the perception of the world and the cognitive processes of its speakers. Humboldt postulates the idea that humans mentality heavily depends on the lan-

guage they speak. The philosopher represents language as a system of signs that form a definite «lin- guistic worldimage», within which a certain structure of mentality is formed, and by which the boundaries and possibilities of human cognition and understanding of reality are determined. However, if the German thinker builds a theory of language as a tool for viewing «the highest and deepest spheres and all the diversity of the world», «approaching the solution of the mystery of a man and the character of peoples» [3; 6], dystopian discourse reveals other functional capabilities of language as a way of structuring and constructing mentality and reality. Language management successfully performs the function of directed organization of the mental and cognitive space.

It is enough to recall one of the most representative texts that implement the principles of language destruction in dystopia that is Orwell's novel «1984». It is important that in the novel, along with the special character, a philologist-demiurge, who is entrusted with the function of describing and justifying the principles of the new language, the artistic text is provided with the author's theoretical reflection on the «Newspeak» created in the work, its author's conceptualization (in the Appendix to the novel «The Principles of Newspeak»). Thus, dystopian discourse purposefully creates an ontological anti-model of language, through which it implements its anti-model of society and the world.

The ways of language transformation in dystopian texts are diverse and can be seen at various levels: stylistic etymological, word-building, lexicological, and lexicographic.

In this regard, Tatyana Tolstaya's novel «Slynx» is often claimed a bright example of so called «linguistic prose», which gives priority to language. Under the «linguistic experiment» critics have designated the speech, stylistic defamiliarization (ostranenie) of the narrative in the novel [4; 273].

Language in the dystopian novel expresses of the semantic essence of the depicted world, characterizes the mental and moral state of the characters presented in this world. Tolstaya actively employs various techniques of language destruction in the novel such as creating neologisms and neographisms, deforming lexical units, using phonetic and phonological principles of writing, irregularity in grammatical and orthoepic rules and the normative punctuation system of the Russian language, overlaying various stylistic layers on the principle of an oxymoron, and violating the contextual environment.

One of the most obvious typological features of postmodernism is intertextuality as the most important strategy of text construction in modern literature. Introduced in 1967 by poststructuralism theorist Kristeva, the concept of intertextuality has become widely used in analytical linguistic-stylistic analyzing of postmodern texts. Intertextuality is understood as a fundamental principle inherent in every text, hence any text can consciously refer to other texts. Intertextuality is viewed as a characteristic of the text that has links to other texts (direct or hidden quotes, reminiscences, allusions) at various levels in recognizable forms that enable the recipient to comprehend deep meanings of the text. Kristeva's theory of intertextuality was developed on the Bakhtin's concept presented in his work «Problem of Content, Material and Form in Verbal Artistic Creativity» (Problemy soderzhaniya, materiala i formy v slovesnom khudozhestvennom tvorchestve) (1924). The researcher is premised on the idea that a writer is in constant dialogue not only with the surrounding reality, but also with the previous and contemporary literature. Bakhtin's ideas were the basis for the modern theory of intertextuality, which usually refers to as including in the artistic text of certain elements of other texts.

A narrower, more specific understanding of intertextuality was proposed by the St. Petersburg philological school. It was considered in relation to the artistic style and analyzed from the perspective of certain forms of citation [5; 107].

It is important that dystopia as a genre in essence initially was developing on the basis of polemical relations with the previous tradition, and is aware of its nature in opposition to that tradition. This explains the fundamental textual retrospectivity of the dystopian discourse. Despite the specific subject — a speculatively constructed and prognostically foresaw future -a basic text strategy in dystopia is an intensive appeal to the previous texts, in the relations with which the dynamics and tension of its meanings are formed. Therefore, without taking into account the phenomenon of intertextuality, it is impossible to understand the meanings of dystopia.

We can observe that M.M. Bakhtin's ideas about «someone else's word» are profoundly realized in dystopia. When developing its essential characteristics as an anti-genre, in explicit or hypothetical opposition to utopia, dystopia always has in mind another text with which it is engaged in a essential dialogue. The intertextuality of the text can be analyzed in a linguopoetic aspect, as one of the components of the author's idiolect, reflecting the author's perception of the world. Introducing into the work of elements of other texts as linguocognitive components of the artistic discourse organizes the conceptual space of the artistic work in a certain way. This intertextual analysis reveals the ways of evaluation and marking significant elements of both linguistic and non-linguistic reality. Realizing and forming its meaning in a new context, a cited text becomes a special text-forming unit, which must be considered in close dependence on its contextual position, certain contextual linguocognitive connections.

A well-known typology of intertextuality was proposed by J. Genette. Among other types of intertextual relations of texts it highlights such as «architextuality», that is, genre relations of different texts. Traditional classification proposed by I.V. Arnold, distinguishes following types of intertexts: quotation, allusion, epigraph (6). In the text, they can be in marked or unmarked form.

In Tolstaya's novel, relations of the text with the texts of the previous or modern literature is manifested in direct and hidden quoting, imitation, parodying, processing of different themes and plots, allusions, transformation of language units at different levels.

The main figure of intertext in «Slynx» is so called text applications that is quoting without direct reference to the source of quotation. Fragments from other texts are included in various forms such as reminiscences, allusions and quotations, inclusion of phraseological phrases, proverbial expressions, and even entire texts which are attributed to the characters of the novel.

Intertextual elements can be marked by indicating its original source (using quotation marks, indicating the author or the title of the work referenced by the author) or introduced with «zero» marking when the reader is to discover the presence and boundaries of borrowings from other texts. The way of marking and its form are stylistically and aesthetically significant, and arrange the author's dialogue with the reader

The precedent texts which are the source of the intertextual elements in the novel are primarily significant cultural texts: literary works, myths, prayers, and folklore.

A large number of various pretexts are included in the narration of «Slynx». The novel quotes prominent works of world literature: «The Divine Comedy» by Dante Alighieri, «Macbeth» by William Shakespeare, Russian folk tales, historical songs and Russian bylinas, folk songs, fortune-telling and omens; allusions and quotations from Russian and Soviet classical authors such as Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Turgenev, Mayakovsky, Pasternak, Tolstoy, Chukovsky, Erofeev, etc.; texts of mass culture.

Approaching the intertext, it is important to understand what relations and connections intertextual unites enter into with the text that accepts them. «The word does not live in the system, but in the text, where it is included in a network of interconnected, interdependent means of expressing thoughts and feelings» [7; 31]. Borrowings undergo various transformations such as grammatical, semantic, orthoepic, graphic, realizing the principle of postmodern play with meanings. As Lotman puts it, «the relation to various metastructures forms a semantic game, which is a condition for the rhetorical organization of the text» [8; 61].

Through the implementation of contextual connections and relationships, implicated texts are reinterpreted, transformed, and placed in the context in such a way that their original understanding is destroyed. Intertextual unites undergo in the novel a very significant «modal rearrangement» (in the terminology of Arnold) [6; 352].

Tolstaya introduces into the novel the key texts of culture, fixed in the public memory, which have a great meaning-generating potential and are recognizable constants of the existing culture. In this respect, they are close to the concept of logo- episteme. From the linguistics point of view, logo- episteme has the following significant characteristics: it is verbally expressed (in a word, word-combination, sentence, super- phrasal unity); is indicates to the original text or situation; it is not to be created over again in the process of communication, but is resumed; in communication, it can be modified within the limits of being recognizable.

Such pretexts used in the novel have a certain «internal form» and strong links with the national culture, they are loaded with meanings that are significant for the entire national culture. The re-actualization of the classic quotation material, which leads to its ironic reading, exposes the moral degradation of the people depicted in the work.

One of the ways of such re-actualization is so-called false «nominal» marking (Arnold). Fragments of many classic works, well-known to the mass reader as well as less known, are attributed in the novel to another and the only one author — Fyodor Kuzmich.

Such substitution of the authorship of these works expressively emphasizes the anomalies of the depicted world, its strangeness and phantasmagoricity. Any artistic word in this world belongs to only one subject — the only author of all available poetic texts. In Fyodor-Kuzmichsk, there is a monopolization of the artistic word, poetic imagery, the inviolability of which is strictly watched by «Saniturions». The description of the entire space of the accessible world is attributed only to one «author», bringing to a logical conclusion the widely practiced in the society monopoly on evaluating and understanding of the truth.

The importance of pretexts and their transformation for the novel's understanding is emphasized in the main character. Benedikt is a copyist whose duties include copying old printed books under the new authorship of the Biggest Murza. It is characteristic that this character of the new dystopia is a person who does not create original texts himself, but rewrites the previous texts. On the one hand, this is an obvious allusion to a number of dystopian characters, the type of which can be designated as «a writing man». This is first of all a canonic dystopian character in the novel «1894» by Orwell, Winston Smith, who is also professionally engaged in texts rewriting process: in the Ministry of Truth, he is engaged in constant updating of historical texts, adapting the history itself to modern circumstances and changes in the political arena. In addition, it is important for Winston Smith and his spiritual life to write his own text, a personal diary in which he generates and expresses his word about the world, realizing his creative and intellectual potential for independent thinking.

On the contrary, the character of Tolstaya's dystopia no longer has such claims to independent original creativity. His creative intentions are reduced to shifting classical texts into a new context. Benedikt rewrites the texts of the past culture, which therefore become part of his speech repertoire. This is the cause for Benedict's secondary, citatory thinking in the novel, which refers the reader to the idea of the fundamental citationality of postmodern creativity. It is in Benedikt's citatory consciousness that the set of meanings assigned to the key pretexts of Russian culture is primarily re-actualized. As a result, one of the most important mechanisms of meaning generation in Tolstaya's novel is realized-the transformation and destruction of pretexts.

This is the case, for example, with the introduction of Pushkin's texts into the narrative. Pushkin can be considered the central ideologeme of the novel. Represented in the work by the canonic maxim of A. Grigoriev «Pushkin is our be all» («Пушкин — наше все»), the poet serves as a kind of off-stage character, symbol and measure, embodying the Russian national mentality.

In the novel, this maxim of A. Grigoriev is transformed into an expanded metaphor «mouse is our be all» («мыши — наше все»). Through the contextual substitution, the value content of the key image of Russian culture and the new idol of the new time — the mouse — are interchanged and equalized. As a sacred basis of national existence, a certain totem is proposed, reflecting new values, a new worldview of the Golubchiks' society. This is a demonstration of regression, a return to the mythological, pre-Christian time of primitive animism. Characteristically, Pushkin himself as a cult symbol of the former culture was embodied by Benedikt as «idol», an ugly wooden pillar. This is a kind of extended metaphor of how the Golubchik's world converts the pretexts of the past culture.

In the same way, the Pushkin word is distorted in the novel. For example, the text of the Biggest of Murza's decree introduces a quote from the poem by Alexander Pushkin «Stanzas» (1826), originally written about Peter the Great: «И академик, и герой, и мореплаватель, и плотник.» (« Either academician or hero That navigator, then the carpenter»).

In «Slynx,» this line appears in the following variant: «Вот как я есть Федор Кузьмич Каблуков, слава мне, Набольший Мурза, долгих лет мне жизни, Секлетарь и Академик и Герой и Мореплаватель и Плотник, и как я есть в непрестанной об людях заботе» (9; 138) («Since I am Fyodor Kuzmich Kablukov, Glory-to-me, the Greatest Murza, Long May I Live, and Seckletary, Academishun, and Hero and Ship Captain and Handyman.») (as translated by Jamey Gambrell).

The image of Peter the Great as one of the most outstanding figures in Russian history, a symbol of Russia's monumental social transformations, is placed in the context of the self-title of the caricature tyrant and mock reformer of the Biggest Murza. Implicit ways of the meaning actualization are explicated in the form of formal graphic and lexical markers. Deliberate violation of grammar in rewriting of the quotation, the use of neographisms (capital letters) focuses the reader's attention on the destruction of the original meaning of the quote, its ironic reduction. The language changes reflects the essence of the changes that are taking place in the society.

Benedikt, who due to his rewriting work possesses a large set of various pretexts, perceives and describes his life employing the constants of Russian culture. Another example of the destruction of the original pretext is a quote from the famous Pushkin's poem «My Monument»: «Вознесся выше он главою непокорной.» («'His proud head rose higher than.»). In the novel, the quotation is introduced in the voice of Benedict with the replacement of the personal pronoun «Вознесся выше я главою непокорной.» [9; 112] (I'm a head . higher than the Alexander column). A famouse image that asserts the high purpose and enduring glory of the Prophet Poet is used to describe the social elevation of Benedict after a successful marriage to Olenka, which in fact becomes the beginning of his spiritual degradation.

Another Pushkin's famous line, which emphasizes the divine origin of the Word and the high mission of the Poet, «Глаголом жги сердца людей», reflects the traditional for the entire European culture word-centric picture of the world that is fundamental to Christianity. In the Bible, we see a similar understanding of the Word as the bearer of divine truth: «I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food (Job 23:12). Man's service and obedience is to «hear the word and understand it» (MT 13: 23). In the novel, this image is transformed with metaphorical transfer based on the similarity of the shape of the Saniturion's hook and the letter «Glagol» and leads to the identification and substitution of the word as a divine tool of enlightenment to a terrible tool of suppression and physical violence: «The weapon, strong, nimble, itself has grown to the hand — a sure hook, bent like the letter «verb»! The verb to burn people's hearts! With a bird's, iridescent click, a wave of the hand, I call my comrades; always ready!» «Оружие, крепкое, верткое, само приросло к руке — верный крюк, загнутый, как буква «глаголь»! Глаголем жечь сердца людей!» [9, 356] («His strong weapon seemed to grow into his hand-his trusty hook, bent like the letter [*], Glagol! «With words to burn the hearts of men!»). There is also a phonetic transformation of Pushkin's «Глагол» (verb, word) into «Глаголь» (a letter of the ancient Slavic alphabet shaped like a hook), leading to further re-actualization of the meaning of the pretext and emphasizing the destruction of its original meaning.

Here we observe a peculiar ascent from the abstract to the concrete meaning. Pushkin's metaphor of the world as a spiritual weapon that purifies the heart is destroyed, its figurative meaning is read as literal. The same principle is observed in transforming other quotations. For example, another famous line from «My Monument» — «К нему не зарастет народная тропа» («the people's path to him would never be overgrown») — appears in the novel in a dementralising context: «Думал, не зарастет народная тропа, дак если не пропалывать, так и зарастет» [9; 93] («he thought the people's path to him would never be overgrown-but if you don't weed, then it's sure to grow over.»)

In general, detached from the original meaning «logo- centrism» — the tireless desire of Benedict to absorb texts — leads the hero only to greater degradation. He «hears the word», but not being able to comprehend its meaning, builds it into his own paradigm of meanings and meanings.

Arbitrary interpretation of the pretext, coming from the context of a new reality and mentality, leads to a consistent desemantization of previous texts, emptying their meanings, which ultimately leads to the desensitization of cultural discourse. Texts transformed in this way lose their ontological status in the minds of speakers and become inaccessible to perception and comprehension.

The poetics of intertextuality widely used by Tolastaya, is based on the destruction of pretexts, creates an ironic narrative intonation of the novel, and also expresses the author's main ideas. The author's irony higlights another pragmatic attitude that reveals the mental, ethno-cultural and, finally, linguocognitive mutation of society. Linguistic and semantic transformations of the quotation intertext in Tolstaya's novel is an expression of the civilizational degradation of the «post» society and a reflection of the author's idea of the nature of human evolution, the inability of the text as a carrier of cultural meanings to structure a new value reality, or to restore lost connections with previous cultural paradigms.

 

References

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  6. Arnold, I.V. (2010). Semantika. Stilistika. Intertekstualnost [Semantics. Stylistics. Intertextuality]. Moscow: Librokom [in Russian].
  7. Turayeva, Z.Y. (1986). Linhvistika teksta (tekst: struktura i semantika[Text Linguistics (text: structure and semantics)]. Moscow: Prosveshchenie [in Russian].
  8. Lotman, Y.M. (1996). Vnutri mysliashchikh mirov (chelovek-tekst-semiosfera-istoriia) [Inside the Thinking Worlds (man- text-semiosphere-history)]. Moscow: Yazyki russkoi kultury [in Russian].
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Year: 2020
City: Karaganda
Category: Philology