2016 №1-2

Author: Dmitriy Ivinskiy
About the author:

Dmitriy P. Ivinskiy. PhD. Professor of Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.

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In Pushkin’s literary imagination Boileau and Chapelle correlate – and at the same time are opposed: the former is identified with Heraclitus, the latter – with Epicurus. Juxtaposing Vyazemsky and both of them, Pushkin had in mind Vyazemsky’s psychological characteristics: his penchant for the pleasures of life was often overshadowed by attacks of melancholy; his literary and political optimism was complicated by a skeptical turn of mind. Epicurean subtext of Viazemsky’s biography is adequately expressed by identifying him not only with Chapelle, but with Chaulieu as well, who is usually viewed as a refined but unstable and erratic poet; therefore identifying Viazemsky with him could be regarded as an additional epigrammatic connotation.

Calling Vyazemsky “Aristippus”, Pushkin refers to certain aspects of his reputation in “Arzamas” literary society, recorded in Batiushkov’s epistle “My Penates”. Unlike Aristippus, Asmodeus neither aspires to get the laurels of a philosopher, nor talks about restraining passion with the help of intellect. Asmodeus was considered a libertine, and among his characteristics there was predilection for gambling and French fashion. All of it fit into Vyazemsky’s reputation in a circle of friends; moreover, his passion for the uncompromising literary struggle in “Arzamas”’ ludic context was identified with cruelty, i.e. another characteristic feature of Asmodeus, often represented as a merciless demon-assassin.

Keywords: “Arzamas” society, Vyazemsky, Pushkin, Derzhavin, literary society, literary reputation

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