2022 №25

Author: Irina Z. Surat
УДК / UDK: 821.161.1.0
About the author:

Irina Z. Surat — DSc in Philology, Leading Research Fellow, А.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 а, 121069 Moscow, Russia.


E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The article is dedicated to the subject of the crucifixion in Russian lyric poetry of 19th–21st centuries. It studies five poems that present different images of Calvary. Analyzing A.S. Pushkin’s “Worldly power” we discover a lexical connection of the poem to prayers and liturgical texts. The poem “When rowan leaves are dank and rusting…” by A.A. Blok requires consideration from two angles: among his other Christological poems and in the light of a general among symbologists tendency of eroticizing Christian images. We demonstrate that the subject of co-crucifixion is natural for Blok, that it was slowly emerging in his lyric poetry of the 1900s. The article analyzes O.E. Mandelstam’s poem “The implacable words…” in the context of his lyric poetry of the 1910s, as well as in comparison to the later variation of the image (“Like chiaroscuro’s martyr Rembrandt…”). The research reveals “maternal projection” of the subject of Calvary on the example of the poem “Mother” by V.V. Nabokov, passages from A.A. Akhmatova’s poem "Requiem” and I.A. Brodsky's poem “Still-life.” El.A Shvarts’s poem “Rembrandt’s etching — Christ and the thieves” represents ekphrastic versions of the biblical story.

Keywords: Russian poetry, Calvary, Pushkin, Blok, Mandelshtam, Nabokov, El. Shvarts.
For citation:

Surat, I.Z. “Calvary.” Literaturnyi fakt, no. 3 (25), 2022, pp. 163–194. (In Russ.)


1. Averintsev, S.S. “Sud’ba i vest’ Osipa Mandel’shtama [“Osip Mandelstam’s Word and Destiny”]. Mandel’shtam, O.E. Sochineniia: v 2 t. [Works: in 2 vols.], vol. 1. Moscow, Khudozhestvennaia literature Publ., 1990, pp. 5–64. (In Russ.)

2. Virolainen, M.N. “Mirskaia vlast’.” [“Worldly Power”] Pushkinskaia entsiklopediia. Proizvedeniia [Pushkin Encyclopedy. Works], issue 3. St. Petersburg, Nestor-Istoriia Publ., 2017, pp. 117–120. (In Russ.)

3. Grigor’eva, A.D. “Iazyk liriki Pushkina 30-kh godov” [“The Language of Pushkin’s Lyric of the 30s”]. Grigor’eva, A.D., Ivanova, N.N. Iazyk liriki XIX v. Pushkin. Nekrasov [The Language of the Lyrics of 19th Century. Pushkin. Nekrasov]. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1981. 340 p. (In Russ.)

4. Dolinin, A.A. Istinnaia zhizn’ pisatelia Sirina: Raboty o Nabokove [The True Life of the Writer Sirin: Works on Nabokov]. St. Petersburg, Akademicheskii proekt Publ., 2004. 400 p. (In Russ.)

5. Izmailov, N.V. “Stikhotvorenie Pushkina ‘Mirskaia vlast’ (Vnov’ naidennyi avtograf)” [“Pushkin’s Poem ‘Worldly Power’ (The Newly Found Autograph)”]. Izvestiia AN SSSR. Otdelenie literatury i iazyka, vol. 13, issue 6, 1954, pp. 548–556. (In Russ.)

6. Losev, L.V. Iosif Brodskii: Opyt literaturnoi biografii [Joseph Brodsky: an Experience of Literary Biography]. Moscow, Molodaia gvardiia Publ., 2008. 479 p. (In Russ.)

7. Musatov, V.V. Lirika Osipa Mandel’shtama [ Osip Mandelstam’s Lyric Poetry]. Kiev, El’ga-N, Nika-Tsentr Publ., 2000. 560 p. (In Russ.)

8. Nabokov, V.V. “Iv. Bunin. Izbrannye stikhi” [“Iv. Bunin. Selected Poems”]. Nabokov, V.V. Sobranie sochinenii russkogo perioda: v 5 t. [Works of the Russian period: in 5 vols.], vol. 2. St. Petersburg, Simpozium Publ., 2009, pp. 672–676. (In Russ.)

9. Nabokov, V.V. “Novye poety” [“New Poets”]. Nabokov, V.V. Sobranie sochinenii russkogo perioda: v 5 t. [Works of the Russian period: in 5 vols.], vol. 2. St. Petersburg, Simpozium Publ., 2009, pp. 640–644. (In Russ.)

10. Nabokov, V.V. Stikhotvoreniia [Poems]. St. Petersburg, Akademicheskii proekt Publ., 2002. 674 p. (In Russ.)

11. Nesterov, A. “‘Rim v chetyre ruki.’ Olga Martynova, Elena Schwartz. Rom liegt irgendwo in Russland” [“‘Rome Four-hand.’ Olga Martynova, Elena Shvarts. Rom Liegt Irgendwo in Russland”]. Kriticheskaia massa, no. 3, 2006. URL: https://magazines.gorky. media/km/2006/3/rim-v-chetyre-ruki.html (Accessed 01 June 2022) (In Russ.)

12. Niva, Zhorzh. “Pushkin: mezhdu prosvetitel’stvom i khristianstvom” [“Pushkin: between Enlightenment and Christianity”]. Kontinent, no. 2 (100), 1999, pp. 345–351. (In Russ.)

13. Poliakova, S.V. “‘Oleinikov i ob Oleinikove’ i drugie raboty po russkoi literature” [“‘Oleynikov and about Oleynikov’ and Other Works on Russian Literature”]. St. Petersburg, INAPRESS Publ., 1997. 384 p. (In Russ.)

14. Segal, D.M. Osip Mandel’shtam. Istoriia i poetika: v 2 kn. [Osip Mandelstam. History and Poetics: in 2 books], book 1. Moscow, Vodolei Publ., 2021. 816 p. (In Russ.)

15. Stark, V.P. “Stikhotvorenie ‘Ottsy pustynniki i zheny neporochny…’ i tsikl Pushkina 1836 g.” [“The Poem ‘Hermit Fathers and Immaculate Women’ and Pushkin’s Cycle of 1836”]. Pushkin: Issledovaniia i materialy [Pushkin: Research and Materials],

vol. X. Moscow, Leningrad, Nauka Publ., 1982, pp. 193–203. (In Russ.)

16. Toddes, E.A. Izbrannye trudy po russkoi literature i filologii [Selected Works on Russian Literature and Philology]. Moscow, Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie Publ., 2019. 760 p. (In Russ.)

17. Uspenskii, P.F. Tvorchestvo V.F. Khodasevicha i russkaia literaturnaia traditsiia (1900-e gg.–1917) [ V.F. Khodasevich’s Work and Russian Literary Tradition (1900s–1917)]. Tartu, University of Tartu Press Publ., 2014. 214 p. (In Russ.)

18. Chukovskii, K.I. “Aleksandr Blok” [“Alexander Blok”]. Chukovskii, K.I. Sobranie sochinenii: v 15 t. [Collected Works: in 15 vols.], vol. 5. Moscow, Agentstvo FTM, Ltd Publ., 2012, pp. 152–194. (In Russ.)

19. Shvarts, E.A. Sochineniia [Works], vol. V. St. Petersburg, Pushkinskii fond Publ., 2013. 410 p. (In Russ.)

20. Freidin, Gregory. A Coat of Many Colors: O. Mandelstam and His Mythologies of Self-presentation. Berkeley etc., University of California press Publ., 1987. 422 p. (In Engish)