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Regular version of the site

Dmitri Shostakovich in Modern Anglo-American Fiction

Ivan Delazari, Associate Professor at HSE Department of Comparative Literature and Linguistics, gave a seminar on Shostakovich in Contemporary Anglo-American Fiction on October 16, 2018 at HSE St. Petersburg.

In his talk, Ivan overviewed the range of Shostakovich avatars, demonstrating that the figure of the Russian composer and his music is subject of a chain of fictionalizations, a la Derridian supplements, that defer and negate the idea of original. The Shostakovich we encounter in a novel is a fictional entity, loosely based on a documentary source, primarily Solomon Volkov's best-selling but controversial Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich (1979). ‘The authenticity of this major source is often questioned, so that the composer's first-person voice talking to us from the pages of Volkov's influential book is nothing but the editor's fictitious construct.’ Turning from the Shostakovich persona to the Shostakovich music, Delazari focused on the intermedial transposition of the Cello Sonata (1934) in William T. Vollmann's Europe Central (2005), with a background discussion of Julian Barnes's highly praised The Noise of Time (2016).

Delazari's interest in this somewhat exotic subject dates back to his career as a Rock musician during his high school and undergraduate studies in the 1990s. Ivan was the guitarist, soloist and the author of texts of “The Nerves” rock group. The last concert programme his band happened to be performing in 1999-2000 incorporated interludes and quotes from Dmitri Shostakovich's symphonies. It was a coincidental discovery on Ivan's part in his PhD research that Shostakovich is featured in a number of English 21st-century novels from the US, the UK, and Canada. His PhD thesis (2018) is a study of the musical dimensions of contemporary American fiction - namely, of how literary narrative dramatizes and imitates Western art music of the last three centuries. His PhD co-supervisor at Hong Kong Baptist was composer Dr David Francis Urrows.

Ivan received his college degree (2000) and his first PhD in Philology (2003) from St. Petersburg State University, where he taught Literary History and American Cultural Studies in 2003-2014. In 2009-2010, as a Faulkner scholar, he was on a Fulbright research grant at University of Missippi. He has presently returned to Russia from Hong Kong, where he was a Hong Kong PhD Fellow and part-time lecturer at Hong Kong Baptist University. Ivan is an active member of the International Society for the Study of Narrative (ISSSN) and the International Association for Word and Music Studies (WMA).

Ivan Delazari focuses on topics that are at the intersection of literature and music. He is interested in exploring various kinds of perceptions. Thus, his research encompasses reader's perception from the standpoint of cognitive and general narrative theory (the auditory side of literary worlds of art and reading experience, a book as a multimodal interface), musical literary ecphrasis (“verbal music” and imitation of musical forms by means of narrative prose), modern US literature, and comparative literature in the era of globalism. He is currently working on a book project on musical experience in Gass, Vollmann, and Richard Powers.