L’incarnation de l’utopie est une des choses les plus terrifiantes qui soient, est persuadé Evguéni Vodolazkine, écrivain russe contemporain, auteur de plusieurs romans historiques, dont le premier, Les Quatre vies d’Arséni, est traduit en français. Dans un entretien au Courrier de Russie, il explique comment la révolution de 1917 a réveillé chez les Russes leurs pulsions les plus basses et mené le pays droit vers la grande terreur stalinienne.
Eugene Vodolazkin’s Laurus was a finalist for WORLD’s 2015-2016 Book of the Year for fiction. It is a long, sprawling novel, translated from the Russian by Lisa Hayden. Russians have given Laurus literary honors because, among other things, it challenges the materialist worldview of Stalin and Putin.
A Russian philologist has written a book that is a masterpiece by any standards. It has already been published in twenty languages, attracting international attention. First published in Russian in 2013, Eugene Vodolazkin’s Laurus became an instant national success winning several of the most prestigious Russian literary awards, among them the National Big Book Award and Yasnaya Polyana Book Award.
Unlike some of the countries on this literary globetrot that I’m barely able to spell let alone am familiar with, Ukraine is a country that is now, as a result of recent problematic events, on everyone’s map. And unfortunately for most, the lasting impression will be the one perpetuated in the media. I have neither the knowledge nor inclination to get into matters political or geopolitical here, nor is it the intention of this journey so, without wanting to downplay events but simply steering into lighter waters, I will turn to more general matters, in keeping with the framework of the previous articles.
Am Sonntag war der russische Schriftsteller Evgenij Vodolazkin zu Gast in der Berliner Galerie Quadrat. Der Autor stellte seinen neuen Roman vor und erzählte, warum er an eine „neue Energie“ in Russland glaubt.
And the knowledge of names,” Socrates explains to Hermogenes in the Cratylus, “is a great part of knowledge.” An important concomitant of Cratylus’s naturalist account of naming that goes unnoticed in Plato’s dialogue but upon which Scripture fixes attention is that a change in nature seems to suggest, even demand, a change in name. And while it’s an overstatement to narrate conversion in terms of a change in nature—Abram’s becoming Abraham doesn’t imperil the integrity of his human nature; nor still Sarai’s becoming Sarah, or Jacob’s Israel, Saul’s Paul, and so ever on—equally slippery is gross understatement, or intimating that nothing of metaphysical interest happens upon conversion. No, there gratia non tollit naturam sed perficit...
Though Nabokov had high admiration for Andrei Bely’s arid symbolist novel Petersburg, and others have heaped accolades on Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, it seems safe to say that the twentieth century never gave us a Russian novelist of the stature of Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. Perhaps now, in this new century, we have a Russian writer worthy of comparison to these great forebears. I’m thinking of Eugene Vodolazkin, whose Laurus, just out in English last year, is nothing short of breathtaking.
No one wants to feel like a fool. When it happens, our faces flush, we turn our eyes away (usually towards the ground). We usually want to hide or disappear, and, just as likely the burn in our face quickly passes to the hot burn of anger. Often what follows are words or actions we regret later. Having felt like a fool, we often act like one, unable to muster the calm deportment that time and distance might allow. Since all of this is true, and pretty universal, it is deeply surprising to discover that there are great saints who have chosen to make fools of themselves for the sake of their salvation and the salvation of others. Indeed, it is perhaps still more surprising to learn that feeling like a fool may be necessary for everyone...
Este un roman bine scris, cu un personaj principal (cu numele lui final de Laur) carismatic, cu o devenire supra-umană interesantă ca parcurs iniţiatic, cu umor bun pe alocuri, în general o carte uşor de citit, fără a vă pune nervii sau răbdarea la încercare prin tot felul de invenţii narative, cu o nuanţă de spiritualitate a-relogioasă (deşi la prima vedere pare profund religioasă) bine dozată.
O lectură plăcută, dar cam atât. Dacă vă plac cărţile mai solicitante, atât prin ideile îndrăzneţe, cât şi prin forma inedită, atunci puteţi să săriţi liniştit peste “Laur”.
IT’S HARD TO WRITE saintly characters. Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov is the least interesting of the brothers. Everybody reads the Inferno, but how many make it to Paradise? Yet Eugene Vodolazkin, whose second novel, Laurus, won both Russia’s Big Book and Yasnaya Polyana prizes in 2013, succeeds gloriously, giving us not just goodliness but an actual saint — a fictional wonderworker in the 15th century. A scholar of medieval literature at St. Petersburg’s Pushkin House, the Institute for Russian Literature, Vodolazkin propels us headlong into the strangeness and wonders of medieval Russia.