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2024. no. 2 (32) 

Author: Zuseva-Özkan, V.B.
About the author:

Veronika B. Zuseva-Özkan, DSc in Philology, Leading Research Fellow, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya St., 25А, bld. 1, 121069 Moscow, Russia. 


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The article considers the short story by Anna Barkova, “The Steel Husband,” in many ways: as a point of intersection of several different influences (“pornographic prose” from the heyday of the “women’s question”; the poetry of the Proletcultists, in particular, the association “Kuznitsa”; discussion of the 1920s about the “sexual question” within the framework of the struggle for a “new way of life”); in the aspect of the centuries-old history of the “artificial body” topic; from the point of view of the motifs of Barkova’s work in general, in particular autobiographical (“psychological” ones); and in the light of gender studies, since in the story there is a gender inversion of the traditional topic. The research reveals plot borrowings and echoes with the short stories of Anatoly Kamensky’s “The Ideal Wife” and A. Mire’s “Rambellino.” The article concludes that by performing several inversions in the story “The Steel Husband,” including gender inversion, which manifests itself primarily in the use of an “inverted” ratio of male and female roles in the Pygmalionist plot about the creation of an “artificial body,” Anna Barkova, at the same time, relays essential elements of the masculine gender order, and in her “technical” story the “eternal values” still paradoxically win. 

Keywords: Anna Barkova, artificial body, automaton, gender inversion, Anatoly Kamensky, Mire (Alexandra Moiseeva), Proletcult, “Kuznitsa,” “new way of life,” “sexual question.”
For citation:

Zuseva-Özkan, V.B. “Human and Machine: Gender Inversion and the Problem of Artificial Body in the Short Story by Anna Barkova ʽThe Steel Husband’ (1926).ˮ Literaturnyi fakt, no. 2 (32), 2024, pp. 204–226. (In Russ.)


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