J,(znsq lhj;m/ cjrhjdtyyjq>
D cktpf[ jn cxfcnmz> jncnj/.
$ Rjulf hfpuekztncz$ (2, 86) Nature, the world, the universe’s hiding place
With inherent trembling,
In tears of happiness,
I will stay for your long liturgy.
"When the Weather Clears"
These stanzas, in which night is an unfathomed faith, a drop of rain is a trifle from God, and nature is a prayer service, are worthy of an honored place in Hasidic wisdom.
Moreover, no image in this liturgy for nature turns us back from Christianity to a stylized paganism. Objects are treated not in their overwhelming grandeur, but in their diminishing smallness that has been called upon as witness to the power and plenitude of the Creator. Things slip away, melt, twinkle in the wind, flicker, consist of flashes and glimmers. Erasing their own existence in the world, they represent Hasidism as an anti-paganism. Rilke, to whom in many ways Pasternak was so indebted, wrote that not a single monk could sufficiently disparage himself to beg comparison with a thing, for a thing is pleasing to God, precisely because it observes a more profound reticence than does a monk, it dwells in abject poverty and selflessly serves all of those who are in need of it.
Man is somewhat more demanding. To view his historical and moral concerns as the center of the universe remains alien to Pasternak, whose intuition is sharpened to the utmost precisely by the play and sparking of essences outside of history--by everyday life and nature, by the humble diurnal cycle. Despite some of Pasternak’s declarations, both age-old Christian historicism and the newest Marxist historicism were outside of his creative interests. Just as parables of everyday life in the Gospels moved him, so did the unsophisticated intertwining of the events of the October Revolution with the most everyday prosaic occurrences. "This unprecedented thing--a marvel of history--this revelation banged right into the very thick of ongoing daily life, without any concern for its course. It begins not at the beginning but in the middle, without any date fixed in advance, on the first weekday that comes along. This is genius. Only the very greatest can be so out of place and ill-timed" (Doktor Zhivago , 199). The miracle for Pasternak is marked off by the measure of its matter-of-fact entry into the most trifling circumstances of everyday life.
"Genial’nyi dachnik" ["a summer cottage genius"]--is the sarcastic formula that circulated in the 1930s about Pasternak--one that was not so very superficial after all, and if cleared of its pejorative connotation, borders on the truth. A country place is the most humble home of man in his world, for there, outside of "the larger" world of history, he finds himself amid the surroundings of everyday life and Nature. The country place might have been described as the primordial home of the lyrical Pasternak hero, or as his shtetl , not only in its narrowly national sense, but in its metaphysically humble resonance.
The art of Pasternak is diametrically opposed to that of Mandel’shtam, yet within the same cultural circle. Their contemporaries grasped this intuitively. Each poet has been compared to an exotic animal from the Near Eastern world, where the poets’ common historical homeland lies. Writing of both poets, Marina Tsvetaeva coins the following comparisons. "Pasternak’s physical presence is magnificent. There is something in his face both of the Arab and of his horse: a watchful, tense alertness; and at any moment, utter readiness for flight. And the enormous, steed-like as well, wild, and timid sidewise glance of his eyes" ("Svetovoi liven’"["A Downpouring of Light"], 354). Of Mandel’shtam she states: "The eyes look downward, the head is thrown back. Bearing in mind his long neck, his head is set like a camel’s. Three-year-old Andriushka asks, "Uncle Osia, who pushed your head that way?" ("The History of One Consecration," in Mandel’shtam 3, 322-323). In his memoirs, Emil Mindlin similarily depicts Mandel’shtam’s "delicate, large hooked nose and [his ] head, with a proud air, independently tossed back"(in Mandel’shtam, 2, 511).
Thus Mandel’shtam, in the tilt of his head, has been likened to a camel; Pasternak, on account of his elongated face and the impetuosity of his gait, gestures, words--to an Arabian steed. These are more than merely physiognomic comparisons, although they match the features of both poets. Perhaps even before they begin to create symbols, the poets themselves are symbols. The camel and the Arabian steed might be emblematic of a relationship between these two creative worlds. The difference in the poetic approach of Mandel’shtam and Pasternak is analogous to the contrast between the heavy, measured gait of the camel and the light run of the Arabian race horse. In the structure of their poetic beings, so is Mandel’shtam is as unhurried and solemn as Pasternak is impetuous and restless.
The comparison to a camel may be extended further. Mandel’shtam carries a hump, formed by his posture vis-a-vis world culture--the hump of a man who, for his entire life, has been bent over the world as over a book, leafing through its pages and endlessly rereading it. His is the posture of the Talmudist, bent over the text of the Law, and it is characteristic of all of Mandel’shtam’s poetic thought. As we know from his rather caustic reminiscences entitled "The Judaic Chaos" chapter in The Noise of Time , the father of the future poet prepared for the rabbinic profession and studied at a Berlin yeshiva. Then Emil Mandel’shtam forsook the vocation that had been passed down from one Mandel'shtam generation to another, chose a secular profession, and gave up all of his religious interests--preserving only in his dessicated Russian conversation, in his "tongue-tied speech and languagelessness[...] the capricious syntax of a Talmudist" (Mandel’shtam, 2, 66, 67).
The irony of origins and the revenge of the cultural unconscious are, however, evident in the fact that the son of Emil Mandel’shtam became one of the greatest Talmudists, making the secular profession of poetry into a distinctive, Talmudic exegesis of the signs of world culture. In Mandel’shtam’s writings, all of culture comes forward as a holy book, continually demanding rigorous commentary and deciphering.
More than any of his predecessors in Russian poetry, Mandel’shtam views the world through the prism of a cultural-historical exegesis. "Literary competence" and "poetic competence"are at the foundation of Mandel’shtam’s demands on talent. In Dante he honors "a good education--a school of the most rapid associations,[...] a keyboard promenade along the entire mental horizon of antiquity,[...] an orgy of quotations" ("Talking about Dante," 68-69). The citations present in all great poetry seem to him to be not simple borrowings; they are atmosphere that is aquiver the the resonant dialogue of times and cultures. Mandel'shtam comments that "A quotation is not an excerpt. A quotation is a cicada. It is part of its nature never to quiet down. Once having got hold of the air, it does not release it "("Talking about Dante," 69). A quotation is not an alien intrusion into a text, but the very nature of the text itself, resonating with all of the reality of signs, with the world of the all-embracing Book.
For Mandel’shtam, the writer is less an original creator--which would hardly coincide with the traditional Jewish view of the Lord as First Creator--and more the translator and intrepreter of a primary text. He registers his beloved Dante, whose very name symbolizes the limitless power of the imagination, merely as a pupil and copyist of some primordial text. Dante "is set in motion by everything except fabrication, except inventiveness. Dante and fantasy--why, these are incompatible![...]What fantasy is there in him? He writes to dictation, he is a copyist, a translator[....]He is bent double in the posture of a scribe who squints in fright at the illuminated original that has been lent him from the prior’s library" ("Talking about Dante," 100). This portrait of Dante is also a self-portrait of Mandel’shtam, "bent double in the posture of a scribe," over the pages of world culture. In one way or another each line of Mandel’shtam’s corresponds to some chapter and page in a literary anthology. Each poem is an inscription on the margins of "The Book," a form of commentary on Homer, Ovid, Dante, Ossian, Edgar Allen Poe, Batiushkov, Pushkin, Baratynsky, Tiutchev, or on some entirely still unknown, unearthed, but pre-existing primary source.
Mandel’shtam changed the hierarchy of values in Russian poetry. Earlier it was esteemed for an author to be considered "the first"; subsequently it became prestigious to be "the last"--not to open up, but to close a theme, having set forth its most capacious interpretation, having transposed it into various languages of culture. In so traditional a sphere of spontaneous inspiration as poetry, "the divine word," Mandel’shtam was the first Russian poet to canonize intentional secondariness. While the word remains divine, the poet serves as its interpreter: he has to transmit it through all registers of meaning, to adapt it to the sensibilities of his own epoch, to lead it into the tangible strata of culture. Rather than the caprice of self-expression, art is a tenacity of reception. It teaches: "Beauty is not the whim of a demi-god/but the plain carpenter’s fierce rule-of-eye" ("The Admiralty," I, 29).
A similar orientation to intentional secondariness prevails amid new Russian authors and new currents that became well known in the 1980s. Hence they have constantly been reproached for being "bookish"--but must this word resound as a reproach? They share with Mandel'shtam an understanding of art as a self-consciousness of culture, an exploratory and accumulatory work with language. The conceptualists prefer to "recycle" the language of Soviet ideology; the meta-realists focus on the languages of earlier artistic epochs; the presentalists utilize the languages of new sciences and technologies. Secondariness, or what is now called intertextuality, is the means for a text to exist amid other texts; more precisely, it is the means by which a text can absorb them into itself and recreate the universal scope of styles and codes within the microcosm of a single work. This is the porosity of poetic matter, which does not gush forth from its own depths as an instinctive creativity, but which "sucks and is saturated" by the entire system of world culture.
Thus Mandel’shtam, with his inherently Talmudic mind, has influenced Russian literature in the formation of a growing zone of self-reflexivity--"writing to dictation, copying, transcribing" ("Talking about Dante," 100). This kind of secondariness does not exclude genuine originality, but makes it stand out in relief from what has already been accomplished in culture. When artists feel summoned to create "from within," as if "for the first time," the result most often turns out to be sheer banality, the first cliché they hit upon. Pasternak, in one of the entries of Iurii Zhivago, speaks of this seeming artlessness: "In present conditions, pastoral simplicity doesn’t come out of the blue. Its false artlessness is a literary fraud, an artificial manneredness, a phenomenon of the bookshelf, transported not from the countryside, but from the shelves of an academic archive" (Doctor Zhivago , 500). When the artist creates a "variation on a theme" while aware of its preceding interpretations, then a new interpretation has a chance to become a genuine discovery in its repulsion from what had been created previously. Conscious reproduction is the path to innovation.
For Mandel’shtam nature, like culture, turns out to be an open page, strewn with the inscriptions of brooks and crags. Hence the cosmogony and the cosmography of his "The Slate Ode," which represents the world in the process of being inscribed, "written by a milky lead stick." The world has been created by the Word and is written like a Book. All of the elements are depicted in terms of schooling: all of nature is a student who diligently brings forth piles of scribbles, and who is bent over the notebook of naked rocks and species, cutting into it deep lines. Rocks are "students of running water," while "the plumbline preaches to them, the water instructs them, time hones them"; "memory, are these your voices, instructing, breaking the night?" "I break the night, the burning chalk, for a firm notation of a moment," and so on. The various elements teach each other, and the universe as a whole learns from a higher law, whose weight is felt in the slightest blade of grass. Causality haunts us even in the fortuitous events that are inevitably hung on the hooks of causes and effects:
In needle-shaped pestilential glasses
We drink our obsession with causes,
Like light death
We touch the smallest substances with our hooks
All of Mandel’shtam's creativity is, to use his own expression, "the schooling of worlds." This is a typically rabbinic outlook in which all that exists has been created for study, with the poet cast as the most diligent and laborious of pupils. As Mandel'shtam writes: "And I now study the scratched diary of the slate summer." The universe turns out to be a kind of yeshiva , the place where the greatest zeal is demonstrated by seminarians who are immersed in the study of the law: "And your textbook, Infinity, I read by myself, alone..." ("Octets," XI)
Nothing of the kind is to be found in Pasternak. "What is not in Pasternak?" inquires Tsvetaeva. "I listen attentively, and an answer comes: the sense of weight. Weight for him is only another form of action--to be thrown off. You’re more likely to see him hurling down an avalanche than sitting in a snow-covered hut awaiting the avalanche’s deadly thud" ("Svetovoi liven’," 357). But the very quality that is absent in Pasternak is paramount in Mandel’shtam:
Rjve--leibcnjt c rjhbwt/ dbyj>
Rjve--;tcnjrb[ pdtpl cjktyst ghbrfps
D bp,eire lsvye/ gthtytcnb lfyj. (1,96
To some, wine fragrant with cinnamon,
To some, the salty commands from the cruel stars
Fated to be carried into a smoky hut .
D gktntyre hjuj;b ukzltkb rjk/xbt pdtpls>
B ,bkb dhfphzlre rjgsnf gj rkfdbifv vthpksv.
And spaced-out hooves beat along the congealed keys.
Gecnm z kt;e d ptvkt> ue,fvb itdtkz>
Yj nj> xnj z crf;e> pfgjvybn rf;lsq irjkmybr (1, 214 ).
What I say, every schoolboy will memorize.
Mandel’shtam’s place truly is in "a snow-covered hut awaiting the avalanche’s deadly thud" (precisely what Tsvetaeva finds incompatible with Pasternak's lyrical sensibility). He lies under a deadly tread that will trample him into the earth--or under the weight of the Law, by which man is sentenced and which he must transmit to others, like a lesson.
Whereas Pasternak grasps the world in images of free play, Mandel’shtam apprehends it in images of strict law and painstaking learning. Therefore, Mandel’shtam's world is full as well of "unkind loads," of "petrified elements." Stone, the poet’s favorite element, predominates, because it is the element most dependable and obedient to the law, one that abides by the will of the Creator. Almost everything in Mandel’shtam appears in stony or earthen images: "the warmed sand cools down"; "the rose was earth." Elements thicken: "like dark water, I drink the roiled air"; "the heavy steam falls down"; "the deposit of lime in the sick son’s blood hardens"; "wasps suck the axis of the Earth."
This transition of matter into a solid state, this encumbering of the elements by hardening and darkening, may be the fundamental principle of Mandel’shtam’s poetics. It is especially striking that in Mandel’shtam’s poetry, air becomes statuesque and seems more like a tree or a tower than like air. We encounter images such as, "the translucent forest of the air," "in the transparent air, as in a light-blue Colisseum," and so on. Mandel’shtam never whips up a blizzard or a snowstorm, dynamic forces that are endemic to the Russian poetic landscape.
If we turn to images of winter in Pasternak and Mandel’shtam, the contrast becomes especially clear. In Mandel’shtam’s poetry, winter is as a rule hard, like a diamond; it lies on the earth like a heavy ice crust , emitting a sharp, terrifying crunch: "Let the dark people hurry along the snow / Like sheep in a flock, and let the brittle ice crust crunch." Or "everything is shaggy--people and objects./And the hot snow crunches" ("Barely gleams the ghostly scene"). Elsewhere,"the white, white snow eats one’s eyes to the quick"--this snow is impregnated by the whiteness of the fatefulstars, fixed and cruel as the law ("To some winter is arrack and blue-eyed punch..."). And in "1 January 1924": "As of old, I respect the fraternity of the deep frost and the justice of the pike." The strong frost is both a litigation and sentence; it is also the legalistic representation of Nature as a judgment against Man.
In Pasternak, it is just the opposite. Winter is swirling snowflakes: "White starlets in a snow-storm"; "As in summer a swarm of gnats /fly into the flame, /Snowflakes sweep from the yard /up to the windowpane"--there is an impetuous sporadic glimpsing of the most minute airy particles forming soft woven patterns. Winter "knits stockings from snowflakes," "descends from heaven in a patched coat," trails "like a fringed curtain"--in a word, it enters into the category of "matter from which snowflakes are sewn together."
Dct gecrftncz d gjk=n%
Xthyjq ktcnybws cnegtyb>
Gthtrhtcnrf gjdjhjn. (2, 108)
Everything breaks into flight:
The steps of the black ladder,
The turning of the crossroads.
Finally, if for Mandel’shtam, "the frost of eternity streams in the icy diamonds " ("More slowly than the snowy beehive..."), then for Pasternak, "time perhaps slips by with that same rapidity " ("The snow is falling"). These images of snow illustrate the distinction between Law and caprice, between eternity and time, between ice crust and snowflakes, as the poetic metaphors corresponding to the Talmudic and the Hasidic world views.
Both poets are attracted to the Caucasus, the area of their geographic homeland (Russia) that lies closest to their historic homeland (the Land of Israel). This is not, however, the Romanticists’ dream of the Caucasus "that rises like a wall under the heavens"; rather, it is an inhabitable, homey land in that region and beyond it, the dim distant vision of an inconceivable "promised Land." Mandel’shtam refers to "Armenia, the younger sister of Judaea" ("Fourth Prose," 183).
Even in their attraction to the Caucasus, Pasternak and Mandel’shtam are divided between two "Judaeas," two southern poetic homelands, as if they were exemplars of two religious traditions. In every aspect of his poetry, Pasternak gravitates toward Georgia; Mandel’shtam, toward Armenia. One country "plays the prankster" and curls up by its forest trifles, among which "the air breathed and clambered out, necks of hornbeams craned upward" (Pasternak). The other, Armenia is "the country of ploughed-up stones," the bookish land," "the hollow book with its black blood of baked clay." Georgia turns green, lightly sparkles and froths, like the joy of the Hasid. Armenia becomes sallow and is trodden down into its own dead clay, like the seriousness and heaviness of the Law.
Unlike the impressionistically excitable Pasternak, Mandel’shtam primarily addresses the intellectual level of perception. But this does not mean that he is a philosophical poet in the same sense as were Baratynskii, Tiutchev, or Zabolotskii. Usually we equate the intellectual and the philosophical in literature, without noting a vital difference. The Biblical-Talmudic tradition has its sages and the most discriminating of intellects, but not philosophers in the ancient sense associated with the thinkers of antiquity. As is well known, the origin of philosophical knowledge goes back to pagan Greek wisdom, whereas Mandel’shtam, despite his often declared love for Hellenism, is nonetheless closer to the Jewish spiritual tradition.
What is an intellectuality that is alien to a philosophical cast of mind? In Mandel’shtam’s writings, we are not in the presence of an abstracting, generalizing reason, but of an exquisite, explicating intellect. Mandel’shtam’s poetic mind is remote from the generalizing philosophical temper that we encounter in Baratynskii or Tiutchev. It is remote from meditation, from aphorisms, and from maxims of the kind "A thought expressed is false" or "Nature has no inkling of the past" (Tiutchev). Even where Mandel’shtam overtly expresses a general judgment, he gives only a partial, narrow interpretation of a broader phenomenon. Compare, for example, two very similar quatrains about Nature. In Tiutchev we read:
Cdjbv bcrecjv ue,bn xtkjdtrf>
Xnj> vj;tn cnfnmcz> ybrfrjq jn dtrf
Pfuflrb ytn b yt ,skj e ytq (220 )
She destroys Man by her seduction,
Maybe, she never did possess
A riddle to be divined.
Vs dblbv j,hfps tuj uhf;lfycrjq vjob
D ghjphfxyjv djple[t> rfr d wbhrt ujke,jv>
Yf ajhevt gjktq b d rjkjyyflt hjob. (1, 40 )
Its images of civic might we see reposed
In the transparent air, as in the light-blue Colisseum,
In the forums of the fields and the colonnades of the groves .
These statements at first seem to be perfectly matched in their thematics of nature, in their structure ("Nature is such-and-such"), and by the source of their comparison--the selection of proper nouns from antiquity (Sphinx, Rome). Yet we note a subtle difference. Tiutchev attempts to resolve the riddle of Nature, while Mandel’shtam describes nature in images of Roman civilization. The Tiutchev poem is a meditation on a philosophical problem: What is Nature? What is its essence? Generalizing speculation of this kind is absent from the Mandel’shtam poem. Rather, it is structured by a transposition from one "language" to another, from the language of nature to the language of culture. Here Mandel’shtam is the explicator of nature-as-text, not the philosopher of nature-as-essence.
In this distinction lies the difference between philosophical ratiocination
and Talmudic explication. Each type of thinking is concentrated on a process
of understanding, but while the philosophical moves from the concrete to
the general ("this is that"), the Talmudic is driven from the general to
the concrete ("that is manifest through this"). Essence is disclosed only
to God; therefore the explication must be more partial, no more general
than what is explainable. The Natürphilosophie of Tiutchev’s
world view is an indication of the general attribute of nature as Sphinx:
"...She destroys Man by her seduction,/Maybe, she never did possess/A riddle
to be divined." In Mandel’shtam, on the contrary, Roman civilization is
more concrete than nature, which can be translated into the language of
"civic might"--into the architectural images of the Colosseum, the Forum,
colonnades. For this reason, the Talmud is more detailed than the Torah,
which it explicates. The task of the interpreter is not to pronounce the
one absolute truth, but to expound what has been said about it; not to
enter into the secrets of nature, but to clarify what is manifest in it.
* * *
Both poets, then, evoke a Jewish spiritual dimension. As Pasternak’s poetry is not so much Christian as it is Hasidic, so Mandel’shtam’s poetry is not so much philosophical as it is Talmudic. To be sure, the creativity of Pasternak and Mandel’shtam is attendant upon Christian ethical and classical philosophical traditions.. But their divergence from the Christian ethical and the classical philosophical traditions bespeaks their (mostly subconscious) affinities with expressions of Jewish spirituality.
Finally, what vital cultural principles underlie these two creative intuitions that Pasternak and Mandel’shtam transmitted into Russian culture? Russian Jewry was divided not only spiritually and ideologically, but geographically as well. The North was the home of Talmudically educated Baltic Jewry, the "Mitnagdim" (opponents of the Hasidic renewal), who established a stronghold in Vilna. Faithful to rabbinic principles, the Mitnagdim insisted on the teaching of the Book and lifelong erudition, and they were staunch advocates of the legalistic path to a cognition of God. In the South, above all in the Ukrainian provinces of Podoliya and Volhynia, lived a more densely settled Jewish population, which on account of persecution and suffering was more distant from the traditions of learning and was more inclined to seek God in lightheartedness, through the carefree joys of the humble heart. In this setting, the preaching of the Ba’al Shem Tov, or the "Master of the Great Name" (often known by the acronym, Besht), had great success. For followers of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the law is not inscribed in books once and for all, but rather is marked in the human heart, as an openness to God and the celebration of every trifle, so as to hint at or indicate His will.
In the North, a more reclusive and contemplative character emerged, whereas the more elemental and open tenor of life in the South may have been a factor in the formation of the spontaneous temper of its residents. In any case, these two movements, coming from the North and the South, reveal the territorial context of the two varieties of Jewish spirituality that penetrated Russian letters. The ancestors of Mandel’shtam came from the North--his paternal forebears from Riga, and his maternal, from Vilna. The family of Pasternak originated in Odessa, in the most southerly area of the geographic entrenchment of Jewish culture in Russia.
The predominance of creative Talmudism in Mandel’shtam and of creative Hasidism in Pasternak may, to a certain degree, be attributed to the spiritual milieu that nourished their ancestors. After all, if these influences of origin and ancient homeland skirt the conscious life and nurturing environment of the individual, they are nevertheless passed along. To cite a well-known example, when Leo Tolstoy's heroine Natasha Rostova finds herself at the country place of her uncle, "the little countess"--who has been taught by a French dancing master--breaks into a Russian dance. How is a manner of speech or gesture inherited?
The question is as irresolvable as it is clear, but perhaps one should not sink into the debris of creative physiology. In any case, in discussing the indigenous roots of poetry, one need go no further than the attestation of the poet himself: "As a little bit of musk fills an entire house, so the least influence of Judaism overflows all of one’s life. Oh, what a strong smell that is!" Thus Mandel’shtam transmits to the reader his almost unconscious olfactory impression of his "genuine Jewish house" (The Noise of Time, 56). He makes the point especially strongly in regard to Hebrew, in which he was instructed though he never mastered it. His ears were filled to the brim: "The speech of the father and the speech of the mother--does language not feed throughout its long life on the confluence of these two, do they not nourish our speech our life long, do they not compose its character?" ( 66).
These are the elements that contributed to the creative formation of two of the greatest figures in twentieth-century Russian poetry--its Talmudist, Osip Mandel’shtam, and its Hasid, Boris Pasternak.
I am grateful to Ruth Rischin, translator of this essay, for her assistance in identifying relevant sources and for her editing of subsequent authorial additions and revisions. I also would like to thank Anna Muza (University of California at Berkeley) for her sensitive reading of the translation in draft form. A special thanks to Ken Frieden (Syracuse University) for his thoughtful editing of this article and valuable proposals that led to a significant improvement of the manuscript.
In citations from Boris Pasternak and Osip Mandel'shtam, the first number indicates volume, the second, page.
Except for those quoted passages that are otherwise identified, all citations in English are the work of the translator of this essay.
The Russian, "mel’khior " is derived from French maillechort (cupro-nickel), named for the metallurgist who first produced the alloy. There is also a Christian association with the word. In the apocryphal oral tradition, Melchior was one of the Magi who brought gifts to the baby Christ.
For a detailed analysis of this poem’s historical background, see John E. Malmstad, "Boris Pasternak: The Painter's Eye," The Russian Review 51.3 (July 1992): 301-318. Malmstad suggests that this poem was inspired by a painting by Aristarkh Lentulov (1878-1943). [Translator’s note].
Iurii Tynianov, Viktor Shklovsky, and Boris Eikhenbaum are the three major representatives of Russian Formalism, which became renowned as a school of literary theorists in the 1920s. Ensuing from the above discussion, the question might be raised as to what extent the Jewish origin of all three of these theorists impacted on the basic concepts of the Formal school, in particular, the theory of art as "defamiliarization" (Shklovskii), and the theory of "the crowdedness [or tightness] of the verse line" (Tynianov). This is a notion in which one can identify the very intuition of a maximum phonetic and semantic squeezing of poetic speech that is expressed also in the free associative formulations of Pasternak and Mandel’shtam. See Tynianov, Problema stikhotvornogo iazyka  (Moscow, Sovetskii pisatel', 1965).
Shklovsky refers to Aristotle's Poetics, ch. 22.
Throughout this discussion, Hasidism is to be understood as the spiritual current within East European Jewry of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, rather than that of contemporary Hasidism in Israel or the United States.
The most authoritative exposition of the foundations of Jewish mysticism, including Kabbalah and its Lurianic variant, may be found in the works of Gershom Sholem. See, for instance, his Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism , 3rd revised ed. (New York: Schocken Books 1995); and Kabbalah (New York: Schocken Books, 1974).
Shtetl (a small town, in Yiddish) in Russian is "mestechko," literally, "a small place."
In Pasternak’s own words, "A person attains the maximum greatness when he himself, all his being, his life, his activity have become a paradigm, a symbol" ("What is Man?," 671).
Although one can speak about the influence of medieval, monastic culture on Mandel’shtam’s representation of art as the copying of texts and their exegesis, this culture itself is of biblical origin. According to Sergei Averintsev, "The early Byzantine metaphoric tradition of 'the notation' goes back to the ancient Hebrew and more widely to Near Eastern culture, the works of which were created ‘by scribes and bookmen for scribes and bookmen.’ " Therein lies the distinction between Near Eastern, European tradition proper, and Graeco-Roman antiquity. At the center of the last-mentioned was the free citizen and the orator, but not the scribe. "The visual symbol of a citizen of classical antiquity was not at all the bent-over posture of the scribe, carefully and respectfully entering the Emperor’s words or recopying a text of sacred legend, but the free bearing and lively gesticulation of the orator" (S. S. Averintsev, 188, 190, 191).
On these trends in contemporary Russian poetry, see Mikhail Epstein, After the Future: The Paradoxes of Postmodernism and Contemporary Russian Culture, 19-50.
Considerably earlier, in connection with some poems of Sergei Esenin, Iurii Tynianov had noticed this secondariness of the "naive": "The poet who is so dear to those who revere ‘what is inside him’ [nutro], and who complain that literature has become a craft (i. e. an art--as if it had not always been that)--this poet discloses that 'what is inside him' is more literary than ‘craft’" (Arkhaisty i novatory , 546).
Stone (Kamen’ ) is the title of Mandel'shtam's first book (1913; extended and revised edition, 1915).
As early as 1772, the Vilna Gaon issued the ban against the Hasidim, especially condemning their neglect of Torah study and their irrational belief in the powers of the tzadikim .
15The great Jewish historian, Simon Dubnow, describes the geographic distribution of these spiritual trends as follows: "In the Northwest, rabbinic scholasticism reigned supreme, and the caste of scholars, petrified in the ideas of talmudic Babylonia, was the determining factor in public life[....]Matters, however, were different in Podolia, Galicia, Volhynia, and in the whole southwestern region in general. Here the Jewish masses were much further removed from the sources of rabbinic learning, having emancipated themselves from the influence of the Talmudic scholar. While in Lithuania, dry book-learning was inseparable from a godly life, in Podolia and Volhynia it failed to satisfy the religious cravings of the common man. The latter was in need of beliefs easier of understanding and making an appeal to the heart rather than to the mind." (Dubnow, 221-222).
Information on the Jewish spiritual traditions of Pasternak’s forebears
is, unfortunately, very limited. However, given that his ancestors settled
in the southern Ukraine in the mid-eighteenth century, and that his grandfather,
Osip (the father of the artist, Leonid Pasternak) was a synagogue cantor--all
suggest a familiarity on the part of the Pasternak family with Hasidism.
Sources describing Pasternak’s ethnic and cultural origins include: Leonid
Pasternak (1975); Christopher Barnes (1989); Lazar Fleishman (1990); and
Peter Levi (1990).
Averintsev, S. S. Poetika ranne-vizantiskoi literatury . Moscow: "Nauka," 1977.
Barnes, Christopher. Boris Pasternak. A Literary Biography. Vol. 1, 1890-1928, Cambridge (England), New York: Cambridge UP, 1989.
Buber, Martin. Tales of the Hasidim. The Later Masters . New York: Schocken Books, Inc., 1975.
Dubnow, Simon M. History of the Jews in Russia and Poland from the Earliest Times Until the Present Day. Trans. from the Russian by I. Friedlaender, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1916, vol. 1.
Epstein, Mikhail. After the Future: The Paradoxes of Postmodernism and Contemporary Russian Culture, Amherst: The U of Massachusetts P, 1995.
Fleishman, Lazar. Boris Pasternak. The Poet and His Politics . Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1990.
Levi, Peter. Boris Pasternak . London, Sydney: Hutchinson, 1990.
Mandel’shtam, Osip. Sobranie sochinenii v trekh tomakh. Vol.1. Poeziia . Washington: Inter- language Literary Associates, 1967.
______________."Chetvertaia proza." Sobranie sochinenii v trekh tomakh. Vol. 2. Proza. 177-194.
______________. "Iz vospominanii E. L. Mindlina o Mandel’shtame." SS. Vol. 2. Proza 511-529.
______________. "Razgovor o Dante."SS Vol. 2. Proza . 363-413.
______________. "Shum vremeni." SS . Vol. 2. Proza . 45-110.
______________. "Zametki o poezii." Sobranie sochinenii v trekh tomakh . Vol. 2. Proza New York: Inter-language Literary Associates, 1971. 260-265.
______________. "Talking about Dante." Trans. by Clarence Brown and Robert Hughes. In Delos 6 (1971:65-106).
Pasternak, Boris. Sobranie sochinenii v piati tomakh . Vol. 1. Stikhi i poemy 1912-1931 Moscow: "Khudozhestvennaia Literatura," 1989.
______________. SS. Vol. 2. Stikhi 1931-1959 . Perevody . Moscow: "Khud. Lit.," 1989.
______________."Neskol’ko polozhenii." Stikhi 1936-1959. Stat’i i vystupleniia . Ann Arbor. U of Michigan P, 1961. 152-154.
_____________. "Zametki k perevodam shekspirovskikh tragedii." Stikhi 1936-1959... Stat’i i vystupleniia , 1961. 193-213.
_____________. Doktor Zhivago . Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1959.
_____________. "Chto takoe chelovek?" SS Vol. 4. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia Literatura." 670-674.
Pasternak, Leonid. Zapisi raznykh let . Moscow: "Sovetskii khudozhnik," 1975.
______________. The Memoirs of Leonid Pasternak . Trans. Jennifer Bradshaw. With an Introduction by Josephine Pasternak. London: Quartet Books, 1982.
Polsky, Howard W. and Wozner, Yaella. Everyday Miracles. The Healing Wisdom of Hasidic Stories . Northvale (New Jersey), London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1989.
Scholem, Gershom G. Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism . New York: Schocken Books, 1995.
Shklovsky, Viktor. Art as Technique. Trans. Lee T. Lemon and Marion J. Reis. In Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. and with Introduction by Robert Con Davis. New York and London: Longman, 1986.
Tiutchev, F. I. Lirika . Vol. 1. Stikhotvoreniia 1824-1873 . Moscow: "Nauka," 1966.
Tsvetaeva, Marina. "Svetovoi liven’. Proza . New York: Chekhov Publishing House, 1953. 353- 371.
______________. "Istoriia odnogo posviashcheniia." in Osip Mandel’shtam. SS . Vol. 3. Essays. Letters . Washington : Inter-Language Literary Associates. 306-344.
Tynianov, Iurii. Arkhaisty i novatory . Berlin: "Priboi," 1929.
______________. Problema stikhotvornogo iazyka .Moscow,
Sovetskii pisatel', 1965