Ранчин А. М. Об одном возможном подтексте стихотворения Бориса Пастернака «Метель» // Вестник ПСТГУ. Серия III: Филология. 2016. Вып. 1 (46). С. 15-23. DOI: 10.15382/sturIII201646.15-23
The paper deals with literary subtexts of the poem Метель (‘Snowstorm’) by Boris Pasternak. It puts forward a hypothesis that among these subtexts there are two narratives from the Tale of Bygone Years. In the collection Поверх барьеров: Стихи разных лет (1929), the Snowstorm was published untitled as the ﬁrst poem in a diptych to which the title Snowstorm went over. The second poem came to be Все в крестиках двери, как в Варфоломееву... The two poems are drawn together not only by the motif of snowstorm and snowfall but also by the motif of conspiracy and massacre in the city. What is more, a concrete historical event is directly mentioned, namely St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. There is conclusive evidence that in the ﬁrst poem of the diptych a similar event, i.e. a perﬁdious crime, is also encrypted. However, taking into account the Old Russian colour of the style of the Snowstorm with its посад, ворожея, шлея, this event may go back to the distant Russian past and may be the blinding of Vasil’ko Rostislavich, Prince of Terebovl’, by his relatives Davyd Igorevich, Prince of Volyn’, and the Kievan ruler Sviatopolk Iziaslavich. This event was described in the so-called Story of the blinding of Vasil’ko of Terebovl’, which is included in the Tale of Bygone Years under the year 6605/1097. The coinciding points of the poem and the Tale are as follows: 1) The victim Prince is being brought in a cart (узложиша и на кола), while the Snowstorm mentions breeching (part of horse harness); 2) Vasil’ko regains consciousness after crossing Zdvizhensky bridge, while Pasternak’s poem mentions Замостье (‘area beyond the bridge’); 3) It seems to the priest’s wife that Vasil’ko is dead, and, in fact, before he drinks some water, Vasil’ko seems to be really dead (and only afterwards въступи во нь душа, i.e. the soul returned to his body). In the Snowstorm the motif of death is manifested through the metaphor как убитые, спят снега (‘as if dead, the snows sleep’) and through the mention of душегубы ‘impious murderers’. The motif of treachery is dominant in the Tale (Vasil’ko is perﬁdiously lured to a feast and then blinded). In the poem this motif is seen in the reference to the aspen, Judas’ tree. The eternal darkness, into which Pasternak’s Posad is immersed, is associated with the loss of sight and the blinding that the miserable Prince suﬀ ers. There is one more parallel to the Tale of Bygone Years. Pasternak’s Posad is infested with semi-infernal душегубы, who are not entirely humans, or rather are not humans at all. It had been mentioned that ‘no foot has trodden the Posad’, and at the end of the poem it is said that ‘no biped has been here’. The Tale of Bygone Years contains a fragment which mentions murders committed by non-human evil spirits (the living dead, according to town residents) in Polotsk in the year 6600/1092, however not in reality but in a vision. Coincidences with the poem by Pasternak are striking: evil spirits act primarily in the city; they are murderers but not humans; the city seems to be empty (its residents hide in their homes, while the ghouls are invisible); murderers in Polotsk are not bipeds, they (or their horses) leave no hoof traces. This subtext of the Tale may explain the dread that the newcomer feels in front of the poem character: he probably suspects that the latter is a ghoul. The theme of evil spirits is clearly visible in the Snowstorm. One of its main subtexts is Бесы by Pushkin, as I. P. Smirnov observed. The lexeme душегубы may with equal reason refer both to murdering robbers (which is its literal dictionary meaning), as well as to evil spirits who try to destroy the soul. Cf. Christ’s words: «And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell» (Matthew 10:28). Mythopoetical or potentially mythopoetical fragments from legends found in chronicles are manifested in the avant-garde poem by Pasternak, creating its subtext and appearing to be the key to its understanding.
literary subtext, interpretation, Tale of Bygone Years, motifs, detail in ﬁction, poetics of space, poetics of time.
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