19 June 2010

Pierre Bezukhov, “Clerical Persons”, and Defamiliarization (Part 3)

In my last post I discussed the Tolstoy’s concern for reality and how he paradoxically uses anti-realist techniques, specifically defamiliarization. I promised to ponder how this relates to Toltoy’s complicated, and tragic, relationship to organized religion. So I’d like to jump ahead a few decade to the end of the Count’s life. Aaron of Logismoi gives a good overview of his eventual excommunication so I won’t get into it in detail, except insofar as it relates to literature.

One thing I’ll note is that, at least superficially, the excommunication was occasioned by the publication of his novel Ressurection. He had criticized the Orthodox Faith significantly before 1901, and it was surprising to me to find that the Church took so long excommunicate him, but it is at least interesting that it was in fact occasioned by the publication of a novel.

Count Tolstoy didn’t think much of the Church. As Metropolitan Anthony put it, according to Tolstoy, Orthodoxy "substitutes the moral teaching of the Gospel with idle ritualism." [1] But was the "attack on the Church in Resurrection led to Tolstoy’s formal excommunication." [2]

And with what tactics does launch his attach on the Church? Put simply, defamiliarization, our subject. Victor Shklovsky, in "Art as Technique," writes:
“Tolstoy described the dogmas and rituals he attacked as if they were unfamiliar, substituting everyday meanings for the customarily religious meanings of the words common in church ritual. Many persons were painfully wounded; they considered it blasphemy to present as strange and monstrous what they accepted as sacred. Their reaction was due chiefly to the technique through which Tolstoy perceived and reported his environment. And after turning to what he had long avoided, Tolstoy found that his perceptions had unsettled his faith." [3]


Rosemary Edmonds writes,
"In every description he gives of church services, ritual, traditions, texts, he disfigures and caricatures with such obvious tendentiousness and vehemence that art goes by the board… Everything that, as a rationalist, he could not accept, everything in which he could not BELIEVE, Tolstoy rejected with the intransigence of a man who knows himself to be right." [4]


The defamiliarized Church service takes place in Chapter 39 of Resurrection. Chapter 40 is a sort of commentary on Chapter 39 (using absolute, monophonic language, another technique of Tolstoy’s that we know from War and Peace). These chapters were, of course, censored for the original publication. I have to admit they are difficult to take. I am sorry to report that he not only attacked the Church’s Liturgy, but mocked even the Gospel According to St. Mark. [5] Both offensive and artless, a good editor would have cut the chapters before it even got to a government censor.

Now, of course, this is at a whole different level than the mention of 'clerical person' in War and Peace. But the difference is a difference of degree, not of kind.

To be continued...

[1] The Moral Idea of the Main Dogmas of the Faith.(Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, Synaxis Press). Page 102.
[2] Rosemary Edmond’s introduction to her translation of Resurrection published by Penguin Classics. Page 15.
[3] Shklovsky. Page 8.
[4] (Edmond, Penguin) Page 14.
[5] Apparently he didn’t realize that the passage he referenced would never be read during the Liturgy. See the note in Edmond/Penguin, page 181. I guess it had been a while since the Count actually paid attention to the Liturgy, or bothered to flip through a service book.

18 comments:

柏辰柏辰 said...

向著星球長驅直進的人,反比踟躕在峽路上的人,更容易達到目的。............................................................

茂慧茂慧 said...

Quietude is the crown of life.............................................................

玉婷良DGFHFJ瑋黃吳 said...

不只BLOG內容很棒留言也很精采 XDDDD..................................................................

雅莊王edgd春2蕙婷余惠其 said...

我們老得太快,卻聰明得太遲。..................................................

吳婷婷 said...

不願彎腰撿拾一根針的人,永遠不值得一塊錢。..................................................

姿柯瑩柯dgdd憶曾g智曾 said...

一棵樹除非在春天開了花,否則難望在秋天結果。..................................................

楊家堯楊家堯楊家堯 said...

與人相處不妨多用眼睛說話,多用嘴巴思考. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

宮惠如宮惠如 said...

人生中最好的禮物就是屬於自己的一部份............................................................

呈婷呈婷呈婷呈婷 said...

雖天地之大,萬物之多,而惟吾蜩翼之知。..................................................

林聿希林聿希林聿希 said...

人們不缺少力量,他們缺少意志。..................................................

謝翁穎翰毓珍 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。..................................................

萬建彰宇 said...

傻氣的人喜歡給心 雖然每次都被笑了卻得到了別人的心..................................................................

吳王俊彥琬泰 said...

Learning makes a good man better and ill man worse.............................................................

思韓韓韓穎 said...

在你一無所有的時候 是誰在陪伴你 他便是你最重要的人......................................................................

慧佳蓉佳蓉桓 said...

如果你批評他人。你就沒有時間付出愛......................................................................

孫邦柔 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。............................................................

偉冠儒冠儒倫 said...

從人生中拿走友誼,猶如從生活中移走陽光......................................................................

Z said...

This sounds a lot like what folklorists call "strange-making". Except meaner.