L'essai russe (II) au XXIe siècle : Le Prolongement du point d'Andreï Baldine

Abstract : In Russia, the word 'esse' is an imported word, came from the French “essai” and the English essay. Dictionaries are unanimous to find literary or philosophical content, without anything systematic, characterized by a certain freedom, especially in formal presentation, but always with a critical distance. Montaigne’s Essays were brought to Russia by another term - opyty - which also means 'experiments '. It seems to not have been taken up then, except by the poet Batiushkov, at the beginning of the 19th century, in his Essays in verse and prose, which moreover refer explicitly to Montaigne, since the author gave them such an epigraph : « Et quand personne ne me lira, ay je perdu mon temps, de m'estre entretenu tant d'heures oysifves à pensements utiles ou agréables ? ». Here, "essay" had kept all his sense of experimentation, a sort of "attempt". Later we'll find "attempts", expressed by the term popytka in Marina Tsvétaïeva’s poetry, (for example the poems 'Attempt to jealousy), which affirm itself as a sort of sketch (especially clear in 'Attempt to room). The word popytka might as well lead to 'experiment '. On the other hand, in Russia we find a lot of vague generic terms, a nebula of uncertain genres, like "notes", and "remarks" (zametki), "books" (zapiski) )- such as Turgenev’s Zapiski okhotnika . Dostoyevsky’s work that has been translated as Memories of the Dead House bears the name of Zapiski in Russian. But there is a specifically Russian tradition referring to what Albert Thibaudet called in French "a kind of state-approved essayist", that is, as shown by Marielle Macé, a genre "settled" as in England "in periodicals, located at the intersection of literature, cultural history and socio-political criticism. It corresponds to a specific Russian tradition called publitsistika [publicistika], term paradoxically difficult to translate into French, despite its links with French literary culture of the 19th century.
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Françoise Lesourd. L'essai russe (II) au XXIe siècle : Le Prolongement du point d'Andreï Baldine. Patrick Née. Le quatrième genre : l'essai, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, pp.125-144, 2018, Interférences, 978-2-7535-6508-1. ⟨hal-01790364⟩

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