From the Marginals to the Center: Olga Freidenberg's Works on the Greek Novel

By Braginskaia, Nina V. | Ancient Narrative, Annual 2002 | Go to article overview

From the Marginals to the Center: Olga Freidenberg's Works on the Greek Novel


Braginskaia, Nina V., Ancient Narrative


[ILLUSTRATIONS OMITTED]

Olga Freidenberg: Image and Heritage

You see two faces of the same person--Olga Freidenberg born 1890. The first one is of a young and carefree woman before her becoming a great scholar and a philosopher. The other one is of the same woman, looking like someone who has lost all hopes. The photograph was taken when she served as the Head of the University Classics Department and had already written her major books. Most of what she wrote was locked away in an iron trunk and, after her death in 1955 in Leningrad, remained in that chest, that is, unpublished. In 1972, when I first opened that trunk, I found there--just to mention the most important items--nine completed monographs, thousands of pages covering such topics as Greek novel, Roman comedy and Greek tragedy, Sappho and Hesiod, Homer and ancient folklore and so forth; there were at least two dozens of completed articles, an enormous manuscript of two thousand and five hundred pages of her memoirs, and several sets of correspondence with different people. It was rather astonishing to discover among all those riches one hundred and thirty letters from Boris Pasternak, Olga's first cousin and Russia's famous poet and novelist.

Russian Scholars: Colleagues or Informants?

The Correspondence was translated into dozens of European languages (in Dutch it appeared 14 years ago (1)) and was widely read, which made Olga Freidenberg's name and personality rather familiar to Slavonic scholars, yet not to classicists. Even now that neither the iron trunk nor the iron curtain stand in the way of knowledge and communication, Russian scholars, it seems to me, look at their Western colleagues through a kind of one-way transparent glass. While Russian scholars do the utmost to follow what is going on in their professional field in Europe and the US, their Western colleagues, as a rule, notice Russian scholars when they occasionally become interested in Russians. With the exception of a few charismatic figures, like, for example, Bakhtin, the acquaintance with whom is considered obligatory, Russian scholars are usually viewed as informants rather than colleagues. They are expected merely to represent their national culture, rather than enter an international academic community as its equal members. It is easier to hold Bakhtin's theory of the novel as 'Russian' if he is the only representative of Russian thought. Yet, Bakhtin and Freidenberg were peers--their ideas on the novel were developing in the same period of time, and their theories 'are two antinomic worlds that badly need each other but never converge'. (2)

Scholar in Isolation

In these circumstances, as I understand them, I would like to introduce to the students of the ancient novel the ideas and writings of Olga Freidenberg, who, I believe, was the first one to draw the comparison between pagan erotic novels and both Apocryphal Acts and canonic Acts and Gospels, the inclusion of the latter being of course a rather daring initiative for those days. She discussed the existence of a narrative genre that she was the first one to define as 'Acts and Passions' and that incorporated both: the Greek romance and Christian narratives. In her Master thesis, written at the very beginning of the 20s, Freidenberg came to the revolutionary conclusion that the 'Greek' novel was Oriental in its origin, and that the plots of its different narratives exhibit a retentive archetypal pattern which turned out to be a remake of the legomenon which can be traced back to the dromenon of the fertility cults. At the time when Rohde's authority was still unquestionable, she rejected his Entwicklungsgeschichte together with his dating of the novels. Not knowing about the discovery of early papyri, she maintained that the first novels were probably written in the 1st century B.C. Karl Kerenyi's famous book on the Oriental and religious origin of the novel was not yet written. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

From the Marginals to the Center: Olga Freidenberg's Works on the Greek Novel
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.