본문 바로가기
  • Home

The Symbol of Fire in Aleksandr Blok’s Twelve

  • Journal of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • 2017, 74(4), pp.47-96
  • DOI : 10.17326/jhsnu.74.4.201711.47
  • Publisher : Institute of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : October 30, 2017
  • Accepted : November 13, 2017
  • Published : November 30, 2017

Jhee Won Cha 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Aleksandr Blok’s epic poem Twelve is well known as the highest literary masterpiece dedicated to the Russian October Revolution in 1917. It has created a stir and evoked strong arguments between Russian artists and intellectuals about the author’s attitude to the revolutionary reality, Bolshevism and the poem’s meaning. It seems that the controversy and arguments on Twelve has been coming mainly from the vibration of its meaning and the ambivalence of its judgment. The symbol of fire is expected to fully explain Blok’s ambivalent and paradoxical conception of the revolution described in Twelve. In Twelve, with images of strong and uncontrollable nature (‘стихия’) like snow storm and whirlwind which were also used to embody the revolution and its turbulence in other writings of Blok, is rising one more thing of ‘стихия’, the image of red fire. Once the metaphors of snowstorm and whirlwind construct the conception of the revolution as the phenomenon of стихия irresistible and insurmountable by human, the conception of the revolution became at last completed by the symbol of fire. The revolution was substantially ambivalent and contradictory. It was destruction and at the same time construction. It was ambivalent and contradictory ‘èlan vital’ that would bring the new by destroying the old. Thus the revolution could not help being embodied only by the symbol of fire that implied life and death, destruction and metamorphosis. Moreover, the symbol of fire introduced the image of Christ through this ambivalence of life and death. The image of Christ gave the implication about the duty of the artist and the intelligentsia who run into the revolutionary reality, about their right deeds. Blok understood and accepted the October Revolution through the ambivalent symbol of fire that would transform the world from destruction and death to regeneration and metamorphosis. Twelve described the revolution conceptualized in various images of fire. “Мировой пожар” (world fire) might be the final, complete symbol of the October Revolution.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.