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2024 №31

Author: Anna A. Lebedeva
About the author:

Anna A. Lebedeva — PhD Student, Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Makarova Emb. 4, 199034 St. Petersburg, Russia.


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The article attempts to identify the time when the category “fantastic” appeared in the aesthetic thought of the Pushkin era. Common and fixed in the poetics of this time was another, close in meaning, term “chudesnoe” (“miraculous”). It denoted the “supernatural” (a concept that has become crucial in literary fantastic) but did not fundamentally differ from similar phenomena, such as rare, unexpected, and extraordinary. According to the National Corpus of the Russian Language, the word “fantastic” finds frequent use only after 1830, which chronologically coincides with the period of active perception of foreign romantic prose in Russia, in particular the genre of the fantastic story. In most cases, the new lexeme appears in fiction, keeping “etymological” meaning (related to fantasy, dream, imagination). Many original statements and translations, however, reflect another trend: the “fantastic” in them describes a particular kind of composition or type of narrative, as well as the features of poetics inherent in these works. As such, the word acquires a wide range of meanings and evaluative characteristics, some of which reveal similarities with the semantic content of the concept of “fantastic literature” in contemporary studies. The publication in which a conceptual interpretation of the “fantastic mode of writing” was first proposed in Russian was the translation of Walter Scott’s article “On the Supernatural in Fictitious Composition, and particularly in the works of E.T.W. Hoffmann” (in Russian translation: “O chudesnom v romane” (“About the wonderful in the novel”)) (1829).

Keywords: romanticism, romantic aesthetics, the fantastic, fantastic story, literary criticism, conceptual history.
For citation:

Lebedeva, A.A. “The Birth of the Category of ʽFantastic’ in Russian Aesthetic Thought”. Literaturnyi fakt, no. 1 (31), 2024, pp. 167–186. (In Russ.)


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