The Ridiculous Jew: The Exploitation and Transformation of a Stereotype in Gogol, Turgenev, and Dostoevsky

By Gary Rosenshield | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Taras Bulba Otherwise
Deconstructing Gogol's Cossacks and Jews

THE COSSACKS DIMINISHED

Taras Bulba not only contains many contradictions regarding the representation of Cossack values and mores, it often portrays something very different from what it intends. The Cossacks are susceptible to literary deconstruction. The narrator repeatedly advances the idea, echoed by Taras Bulba and other Cossacks, that the Cossacks are fighting primarily for the Orthodox Church and the Russian land. When the Cossacks die in battle, they invariably leave the living with a few inspiring words about Holy Mother Russia. When Schilo knows he is about to die, he says to his comrades: “Farewell, comrades! May Holy Russia (pravoslavnia Russkaia zemlia) live forever, and may her glory be eternal” (2:103; 2:129). Guska utters: “Down with all our foes, and may Russia (Russkaia zemlia) rejoice forever and ever!” (2:104; 2:131). And Bovdiug, with accompanying narrator, comments: “ 'I am not sorry to part with life. God grant every man such a death! May Russia (Russkaia zemlia) be glorious to the end of time!' And Bovdiug's soul fled to the heavenly heights to tell the old men who had departed long

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