A. F. Velʹtman's Salomeja: a case for the nineteeth-century picaresque novel
Gabara, Uliana Fischbein, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia
Feuer, Kathryn Feuer, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia
Leiter, Sharon, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia
Follinus, Gabor, University of Virginia
Winner, Anthony, University of Virginia
The aim of this study is twofold: it is an examination of one of Vel’tman’s best works, Adventures Drawn From the Sea of Life: Salomeja, and thus a study of the art and craft of this undeservedly forgotten writer; it is also a generic study which applies and evaluates recent works in the theory of the picaresque novel and places Vel’tman’s work within the tradition. From this procedure emerges support for the approach which views the picaresque as a lasting and adaptable genre and the picaro as an archetypal figure.
The close textual examination of point of view and of the language shows that the author-narrator, who oscillates between omniscience, impersonations of various characters and absence from the long dialogue sections, shares the picaro's point of view and his use of language for irony and deception. The argument is made that a novel may, therefore, be a picaresque even if it is not written in the form of a pseudoautobiography.
As a picaresque novel, Salomeja is shown to be equally an exploration of the nature of language and of the relationship between the disintegrating society and the adaptable trickster, who seeks alternately inclusion in social structure and freedom from it. The central picaresque component of the work is shown to be an anti-genre to romance, which is represented by Salomeja, a reader of fiction.
The historical development of the picaresque novel in Western Europe and in Russia, and scholarship dealing with it, are reviewed. Vel’tman’s work is discussed against the background of the state of Russian literature of the time, and his picaresque novel is seen as a rare example in a literature which as a rule, condemns the acquisitive man. The overt stress on the evil side of man's nature and descriptions of symbolic dreams and unconscious states are indicated as the writer's departures in the direction of the psychological novel.
The chapters are: "Vel'tman and His Salomeja," "The Picaresque: Texts and Critical Theories," "The Picaro As Impostor," "Salomeja - The Counterpoint," "The World of the Picaresque," "Point of View: The Picaro and His Double," "Language: True or False?," "Plot and Narrative Devices." An Appendix listing Vel’tman’s works in chronological order is included. All quotations are given in translation in the text and in transliteration in the notes.
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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Velʹtman, Aleksandr Fomich, 1800-1870, Salomei͡a
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