Intertextual Parallels between Gogol’ and Hoffmann: A Case Study of Vii and The Devil’s Elixirs

in Canadian-American Slavic Studies
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Critics have noted similarities between Nikolai Gogol”s three early horror stories (Vecher nakanune Ivana Kupala [St. John’s Eve], Strashnaia mest’ [A Terrible Vengeance], and Vii) and the works of his famous German predecessor Ludwig Tieck. While some scholars have speculated on the relationship between his Ukrainian tales and the works of E.T.A. Hoffmann, detailed comparisons between the two authors have been limited only to Gogol”s “St. Petersburg” stories. By comparing and contrasting Gogol”s Vii to Hoffmann’s Die Elixiere Des Teufels [The Devil’s Elixirs], this article argues that the “Ukrainian tales” also betray some influence of Hoffmann, and that, in particular, there are intertextual connections between these two stories. This is evident on several levels: (1) in the similar depiction of the monstrous beings that appear to the protagonists in both works and influence their lives; (2) in the transformation of the protagonists into villains under the power of evil forces; (3) in the presence of a sinister double, at the “hands” of which the protagonists find their death; and (4) in the doubling of a female into an innocent and a corrupt (lustful) being. The paper contends that Gogol’ was recapitulating, consciously or unconsciously, Hoffmann’s The Devil’s Elixirs in Vii both in terms of plot detail and, as my psychoanalytical reading shows, also on the level of latent content found in both works.

Intertextual Parallels between Gogol’ and Hoffmann: A Case Study of Vii and The Devil’s Elixirs

in Canadian-American Slavic Studies

References

1)

Norman W. InghamE.T.A. Hoffmann’s Reception in Russia (Würzburg: Jal-Verlag, 1974), p. 165. To illustrate Gogol”s interest in German Romanticism – namely in the tales of Hoffmann – Ingham quotes Gogol”s letter to Balabina (Nov. 71838) and draws attention to the fact that the name of Hoffmann is encountered in Gogol”s tale Nevskii prospekt [Nevsky Prospect]. Ingham also includes a section on Russian translations of Hoffmann’s works which shows that the first translations appeared in the Russian Empire as early as 1822. Ibid. pp. 271-81. More information on Hoffmann’s reception and popularity in the Russian Empire can be found in Aurélie Hädrich Die Anthropologie E.T.A. Hoffmanns und ihre Rezeption in der europäischen Literatur im 19. Jahrhundert: Eine Untersuchung insbesondere für Frankreich Rußland und den englischsprachigen Raum mit einem Ausblick auf das 20. Jahrhundert Europäische Hochschulschriften Reihe I: Deutsche Sprache und Literatur Bd. 1802 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang 2001).

3)

According to Charles E. PassageThe Russian Hoffmannists (The Hague: Mouton1963) p. 141.

5)

PassageThe Russian Hoffmannists p. 141.

7)

ErlichGogol pp. 67-69.

9)

Sigmund Freud“Repression (1915),” in General Psychological Theory: Papers on Metapsychology. Theories on Paranoia Masochism Repression the Unconscious the Libido and Other Aspects of the Human Psychewith an introduction by Philip Rieff. Volumes in The Collected Papers of Sigmund Freud (New York London Toronto Sydney: A Touchstone Book 2008).

16)

Robert Romanchuk“Back to ‘Gogol”s Retreat from Love’: Mirgorod as a Locus of Gogolian Perversion (Part II: ‘Viĭ’),” Canadian Slavonic Papers: Special Issue Dedicated to the 200th Anniversary of Gogol”s Birth51 nos. 2-3 (June-Sept. 2009): 305-31.

18)

McLean“Abstract” p. 474.

19)

KarlinskyThe Sexual Labyrinth of Nikolai Gogol p. vii.

21)

Michal OklotPhantasms of Matter in Gogol (and Gombrowicz) (Champaign and London: Dalkey Archive Press2009).

22)

 See V. Mikushevich“Kommentarii,” in Sobranie sochinenii v 6 t.. T. 2: Eliksiry d’iavola. Nochnye etiudy ch. 1 by Ernst Teodor Amadei Gofman trans. by V. Mikushevich (Moscow: “Khudozhestvennaia literatura” 1994) available on-line: < http://gofman.krossw.ru/html/gofman-eleksiri_diavola-ls_9.html > (last accessed Dec. 18 2008).

23)

InghamE.T.A. Hoffmann’s Reception in Russia p. 120.

31)

KarlinskyThe Sexual Labyrinth of Nikolai Gogol p. 88.

32)

OklotPhantasms of Matter in Gogol (and Gombrowicz) p. 190.

38)

HoffmannThe Devil’s Elixirs p. 45.

42)

HoffmannThe Devil’s Elixirs pp. 227-28.

43)

Gogol’Vii p. 163. “рассвет загорался и блестели золотые главы вдали киевских церквей.”

44)

HoffmannThe Devil’s Elixirs p. 228.

45)

Gogol’Vii p. 162. “сладкое чувство подступавшее к его сердцу” “бесовски сладкое чувство” “пронзающее какое-то томительно-страшное наслаждение.”

49)

HoffmannThe Devil’s Elixirs p. 228.

50)

Freud“Repression” p. 98.

52)

HoffmannThe Devil’s Elixirs pp. 245-46.

53)

Gogol’Vii p. 190. “Двери сорвались с петлей и несметная сила чудовищ влетела в Божью церковь. Страшный шум от крыл и от царапанья когтей наполнил всю церковь. Все летало и носилось ища повсюду философа. У Хомы вышел из головы последний остаток хмеля. Он только крестился да читал как попало молитвы. И в то же время слышал как нечистая сила металась вокруг его чуть не зацепляя его концами крыл и отвратительных хвостов. Не имел духу разглядеть он их; видел только как во всю стену стояло какое-то огромное чудовище в своих перепутанных волосах как в лесу; сквозь сеть волос глядели страшно два глаза подняв немного вверх брови. Над ним держалось в воздухе что-то в виде огромного пузыря с тысячью протянутых из середины клещей и скорпионьих жал. Черная земля висела на них клоками.”

54)

KarlinskyThe Sexual Labyrinth of Nikolai Gogol p. 95. “A man who yields to homosexuality would perhaps be free from the witch’s power…. Now a mighty male earth spirit enters his maleness emphasized by his ultra-phallic anatomy – few things could be as phallic as eyelids that hang to the ground. He causes others to lift these eyelids for him in what seems to be an unmistakable erection a double one which with the pointing iron finger becomes a triple one…. All three are directed at another male [K]homa graphically spelling out the possibility of one man’s sexual desire for another.”

59)

Freud“Repression” p. 98.

60)

Sigmund Freud“Neurosis and Psychosis (1924),” in General Psychological Theory: Papers on Metapsychology. Theories on Paranoia Masochism Repression the Unconscious the Libido and Other Aspects of the Human Psychewith an introduction by Philip Rieff. Volumes in The Collected Papers of Sigmund Freud (New York London Toronto Sydney: A Touchstone Book 2008) p. 187.

65)

Leon Stilman“The ‘All-Seeing Eye in Gogol’,” in Gogol from the Twentieth Century: Eleven Essaysselected edited translated and introduced by Robert A. Maguire (Princeton NJ: Princeton Univ. Press 1974) p. 379.

67)

McGlatheryMysticism and Sexuality: E.T.A. Hoffmann. Part Two: Interpretations of the Tales pp. 224-27.

68)

HoffmannThe Devil’s Elixirs p. 17.

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