CHAPTER III
ALEXANDER BLOK

BLOK'S PLACE IN RUSSIAN LITERATURE.--THE PRE-REVOLUTIONARY ELE-
MENT OF BLOK'S SYMBOLISM.--WHY "THE TWELVE" IS NOT A
POEM OF THE REVOLUTION.--DUALISM.--BLOK AND
BOURGEOISIE.

BLOK belonged entirely to pre-October literature. Blok's impulses--whether towards tempestuous mysticism, or towards revolution--arise not in empty space, but in the very thick atmosphere of the culture of old Russia, of its landlords and intelligentsia. Blok's symbolism was a reflection of this immediate and disgusting environment. A symbol is a generalized image of a reality. Blok's lyrics are romantic, symbolic, mystic, formless and unreal. But they presuppose a very real life with definite forms and relationships. Romantic symbolism is only a going away from life, in the sense of an abstraction from its concreteness, from individual traits, and from its proper names; at bottom, symbolism is a means of transforming and sublimating life. Blok's starry, stormy and formless lyrics reflect a definite environment and period, with its manner of living, its customs, its rhythms, but outside of this period, they hang like a cloud-patch. This lyric poetry will not outlive its time or its author.

Blok belonged to pre-October literature, but he overcame this, and entered into the sphere of October when he wrote "The Twelve". That is why he will occupy a special place in the history of Russian literature.

-116-

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