Russian Postmodernism: New Perspectives on Post-Soviet Culture

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

CONCLUSION
On the Place of Postmodernism in Postmodernity Mikhail Epstein

1. Removing the Quotation Marks

Venedikt Erofeev is the first but certainly not the sole manifestation of the new sentimentality. At the end of the 1980s and particularly at the beginning of the 1990s, Erofeev's "sentimental aesthetics" became a major influence on Russian literature. Sergei Gandlevsky, one of the leading poets of his generation, has defined this trend as "a critical sentimentalism," holding the middle ground between two extremes, a lofty and detached metarealism that ignores contemporary life, and conceptualism, which is deliberately reductionist, ridiculing all stilted ideals and models of discourse. "Situated between two polar opposites, it [critical sentimentalism] borrows as needed from its more resolute neighbours, transforming their extremes in its own fashion: it diminishes the arrogance of the righteous poetry and curtails the excesses of the ironic poetry. Such a method of poetic perception of the world is more dramatic than the other two because its aesthetics is subject to minimal regulation; it has no ground except that of feeling, mind, and taste."1 These principles define not only Gandlevsky's own poetry but the skeptical and sentimental "hangover poetics," which pulls the rug out from under not only the haughty sober person but the haughty drunk as well--a practice introduced into the latest Russian literature by Venedikt Erofeev.

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