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Educational Programme
Final Grade
Year of Graduation
Irina Nurbaeva
The Reception of Psychoanalysis by Z. Freud in Russian Literature in the Early 20th Century
(Bachelor’s programme)
Research “The Reception of Psychoanalysis by Z. Freud in Russian Literature in the Early 20th Century” consists of two chapters, representing comprehensive study of perception of the ideas of Austrian psychoanalyst at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries in Russia.

The first chapter is devoted to reception of Freud's ideas in the Russian religious philosophy in the beginning of 20th century. Thus, the chapter examines in detail how psychoanalysis influenced the Russian religious renaissance on the example of the texts of some well-known philosophers. We have chosen philosophical works of Vl. Solovyov (“Justification of Good”), N. Berdyaev (“Eros and Personality: Philosophy of Sex and Love”), V. Rozanov (“Family Question in Russia”) for analysis. So, the first chapter identifies three areas in Russian intellectual history, in which the reception of psychoanalysis manifested itself: firstly, philosophy or metaphysics of sex, questions about femininity and androgyny, secondly, themes of love and death (Freud Eros and Thanatos) and energy of the creative act.

The second chapter is devoted to reception of Freudian studies in literature and fictions. First, the chapter details the formation of such an original method as psychoanalytic literary criticism, that appeared in Russian literary criticism in 1910-1920s. The formation of this method took place at the time when scholars and literary critics tried to apply Freud's ideas to literary criticism and analyze works of art, their authors and characters from the point of view of psychoanalysis. Thus, a truly interdisciplinary approach is created at the junction of sciences - philosophy, literature, psychology and medicine - perhaps overly applied and imbued with reductionism, but, nevertheless, corresponding to modernist trends of the time.

Secondly, the chapter shows how theory of psychoanalysis could have an effect on the ideas of Russian symbolists and avant-garde representatives. Some works of futurists have been selected for analysis (for example, futuristic opera “Victory Over the Sun”, E. Zamyatin’s novel “We”, M. Artsybashev “Sanin”, etc.)

The main purpose of this work is to trace how psychoanalysis has influenced Russian religious philosophy and some modernist trends of literature since the beginning of the 20th century.

Purposes of research:

• to trace how psychoanalysis influenced Russian religious philosophy and some modernist trends in literature in of the 20th century;

• analyze philosophical texts of Russian religious philosophers (Vl. Soloviev, N. Berdyaev, V. Rozanov);

• compare ideas of Freud with ideas about Eros and Thanatos, sex and metaphysics of Russian religious philosophers;

• analyze a number of literary texts of various representatives of Russian modernism, avant-garde and futurism (“Victory over the Sun”, E. Zamyatin “We”, M. Artsybashev “Sanin”, etc.)

• determine value of reception of psychoanalysis by Z. Freud for Russian national culture in the early of 20th century.

The main conclusions of research:

The work presents an extensive religious-philosophical reception, marked by problems about metaphysics of gender, the crisis of the family and man. It can be said that Russian religious philosophers interpreted Freud's ideas in the context of their own ideas – it was important for them to develop ideas about Eros and Thanatos, the unconscious and libido, including their ideas in context of Christian religious doctrine. So, extraordinary ideas were born, dedicated to high existential questions – metaphysics of sex, True femininity and symbolism, forms of family and marriage, form of personality as such.

Freud's ideas in Russian literary criticism were no less original. The psychoanalytic approach in Soviet literary scholarship was formed in an atmosphere of ideological struggle. The ideas of this approach were not only not accepted by many scholars, but also actively criticized by them. In a similar way, innovative and interdisciplinary approach appeared, at the crossroads of several sciences - literature, philosophy, psychology and even psychiatry.

Finally, speaking of the reception of psychoanalysis in works of art in the early of 20th century, it can be noted that this concept had an impact, first of all, on the development of the literary process in Russia in the first quarter of the 20th century. The influence of Freud’s ideas was direct, in the case of works of futurists (“Victory over the Sun”, “A slap in the face of public taste”, language of zaum’) and symbolists (D.S. Merezhkovsky, A. Bely), and more indirect as the main paradigm of the 20th century, in other cases (E. Zamyatin, “We”).

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