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Farmer, Rachel S.
Languages: English
Types: Unknown
This study undertakes an examination of the life and works of the satirist Vladimir Voinovich, set in the context of satire in general, and in particular against the changing political, ideological and artistic background of the Soviet Union and the new Russia. It is demonstrated that in certain respects he is typical of his generation and in others an exception. The analysis shows how Voinovich's work gradually diverged from the accepted norms of Socialist Realism, leading him into conflict with the state and into increasingly satirical modes of expression. It is suggested that every satirist is to some extent an exile, since detachment is required from the society which is the object of the satirical impulse. The notion is studied that Voinovich became firstly an ideological exile, and compounded this with a form of chronological exile by expressing himself satirically at the `wrong' time, before consequently becoming also a geographical exile. Detailed attention is paid to his novel “Zhizn' i neobychainye prikliucheniia soldata Ivana Chonkina”, which proved to be a turning point in both his life and work. The hero of this novel has his pedigree in the Russian tradition of the plainspeaking fool Ivanushka-durachok who wins out in spite of circumstances, and it is suggested that he shares certain characteristics with his creator. The writing of Chonkin sealed Voinovich's fate as an emerging `dissident', and after its unauthorised publication abroad, he was persuaded to leave the Soviet Union. In emigration the question arose of how to engage relevantly with his readership in the rapidly changing Soviet Union. Despite the trauma of dislocation, Voinovich continued to write creatively in emigration and then in partial return to post-glasnost' Russia. The new Russia provides fertile ground for satire, but the returning satirist faces the question, now and in the future, of what type of expression is appropriate in a nascent democracy which he instinctively wishes to protect and support, rather than censure. Voinovich's solutions are diverse, and sometimes unexpected
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