Southwestern Literature as Heresy of the Russian Empire
Southwestern Literature as Heresy of the Russian EmpireYi, Eun-KyungThis paper looks at the literary mood of southwestern Russia in the late RussianEmpire, while examining the writers of this area and their literary tendencies.
Southwestern literature was formed in the late Russian Empire, and prosperedcentering around Odessa. Because of the uniformity in the Soviet culture, however,it could not stay alive but disappeared in the history of Russian literature.
Odessa, the center of southwestern literature was a multiracial region unlikeother Russian cities. A unique culture was created, therefore, combining the westernEuropean culture and local ethnicity.
Jews in Odessa could enter into the Russian society and assimilate naturally.
They could utilize their talents as a strength to enrich the Russian culture withoutgiving up their cultural heritage.
For example, in lingual aspects, using Yiddish was not against the Russianculture. In addition, it contributed to interesting new coinages and led to effortsamong writers to minimize the gap between the two languages.
Many Jewish writers showed special interest not only in Yiddish but also inFrench, German and other languages. Therefore, they took the lead in translatingand introducing west classics.
As evident in the way Yiddish language was formed, mixing their languagewith other languages enabled jews to soak their way into other cultures naturally.
Their yearning for the Russian and western European cultures, combined withtheir unique sense of humor, led to generic twists and problematic experiments.
From another point of view, it is also unusual that southwestern literaturediversified locational settings and heroic characters in literary works.
European style heros, appearance of multiracial people, pain or waggeryexperienced by Jews in their assimilation process, thrilling revenge to unfair violenceof Russians, and espiegle swindlers are the new domains that southwestern literaturepioneered.
In summary, southwestern literature was formed in a heterogeneous culturalclimate, which was entirely different from the Russian Empire. In this regard,it was in deviation from the Russian literary tradition. From the Soviet pointof view, it existed as a heresy which was against the Russian Empire.