Writing as Exorcism: The Personal Codes of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Gogol

By Ilya Kutik | Go to book overview

Chapter Four

Rome before Rome

Nihil est in rebus, quod ante non fuerit in
verbis.

There is nothing in the content that would not
have been in the word before.
—A. Peshkovsky

The role of the city of Rome in Gogol's life is
not thoroughly explored yet.
—P. Annenkov


ROME LOST

Nikolai Gogol's exorcism is rich in variations. Mostly, as has been shown in the previous chapter, through writing, he was attempting to neutralize his worst fears—in particular the fear of losing his mind—and thus to prevent his [demons] from coming true. In this chapter I will try to unveil one more Gogolian exorcism, one that can be called an exorcism with complications because of its connection with another facet of Gogol's personality—his fatalism. Gogol's specific brand of fatalism took the form of a belief that good things in life, not just bad ones, can be directly influenced by words: words, in this view, do not describe reality; rather they create it. To put it a little bit differently, words for Gogol were either the magnet of life events or an antagonizing force; the latter we have already called his [nausea/nossea] in chapter 3. And, as usual, Gogol camouflages both categories. Why? Most probably, Gogol's coded intentions were connected to his major superstition: when magnetizing his destiny, he was afraid that its [all-seeing eye,] to which we come later, would scare all the good things away and to avoid this everything needed to be very well hidden.

The reader of this chapter will find out how Gogol—on paper— already tried to predict, that is, to magnetize his Italian period when writing works set in Ukraine. Moreover, it will be shown how, in trying to attract this

-84-

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Writing as Exorcism: The Personal Codes of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Gogol
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Praise for Ilya Kutik's Hieroglyphs of Another World A
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction: Reading the Extra vii
  • Chapter One - Exorcism and [The Extra] in the Text 3
  • Chapter Two - Two Superstitious Men 14
  • Chapter Three - Gogol's Nausea and Nossea 53
  • Chapter Four - Rome Before Rome 84
  • Conclusion: Musings on Modifications of Exorcism 118
  • Notes 131
  • Works Cited 141
  • Index 145
  • About the Author 153
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