Russian Postmodernism: New Perspectives on Post-Soviet Culture

By Mikhail Epstein; Alexander Genis et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 23
CHARMS OF ENTROPY AND NEW SENTIMENTALITY The Myth of Venedikt Erofeev

Mikhail Epstein

W hat is the end of a century? A calendar date, a historic landmark, a sum of accomplishments, the wisdom of experience? If we agree with Andrei Bely's penetrating pun, namely that "[T]he individual is the face of the century" (chelovek--chelo veka), then the end of the century is the image of the people who have brought it to its end, who personify this end. The face of the waning nineteenth century was seen in Friedrich Nietzsche and Vladimir Soloviev, who embodied the quintessence of their times and offered parting words and warnings to the coming century. Many ideas and judgements sum up the nineteenth century, but who can now remember them? What we remember are not so much the words of memorable individuals as the facial expression, the gestures, and intonations that marked their destiny.

While destroying old mythologies, history is constantly creating new myths to personify its fundamental ideas. There are great myths and small myths, universal myths and local myths, metropolitan and provincial ones. Yet even in the small myths the wholeness of the

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