Some Aspects of Deconstruction of Totalitarianism in Russian and German Postmodernist Literature


Abstract: While deconstruction of totalitarianism has been an important issue for Russian postmodernist authors since the 1980s, German-speaking postmodernists rather reluctantly take up the topics of National Socialism and the pro-Soviet regime in the GDR. It is characteristic for both Russian and German literatures that they developed postmodernist poetics later than the American and the most European literatures. Nevertheless it seems that postmodernism has discovered its own strategies for reflecting totalitarianism. As in the postmodernist point of view there is no faithful history, and it’s the focus that makes the whole historiography, the authors neglect historical truth for the purpose of investigating the mechanisms of totalitarian power implicitly present in any public practice. Both Russian (Vladimir Sorokin, Viktor Yerofeyev, Yuz Aleshovsky, Tatyana Tolstaya, Alexey Slapovsky etc.) and German (Kurt Drawert, Marcel Beyer) authors deconstruct similar manifestations of Soviet and German totalitarianism: 1) the simulative language and the new type of discourse which form the personality and obtrude a simulative image of the reality and 2) the power over a human being as an organism, which leads to the reduced self-comprehension of an individual.The foci of the recent postmodernist texts shift from investigating totalitarian mechanisms to contemplating the impact of totalitarianism on today’s Russian and German societies. The significant difference between the Russian and German texts is in their perspectives. German authors use a marginal perspective while Russian texts turn around the image of Stalin. This difference draws attention to the different messages of the texts: while German authors try to liberate the totalitarian topic from the genres that occupy it (“Vaterroman”, “Elternroman”), Russian postmodernists are still concerned with the aspects of totalitarian consciousness present in modern Russia.

The experience of totalitarianism is familiar both to Russian and German cultures, but there are significant differences in its perception in their respective literatures. While deconstruction of totalitarianism, which never experienced a sufficient public condemnation in Russia, is an important issue for Russian postmodernist authors since the 1980s, German-speaking postmodernists rather reluctantly take up the topics of National Socialism and the pro-Soviet regime in the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

Given that defining the essence of postmodernism among its own adherents usually results in controversy, nearly no article on postmodernist art is possible without naming the author’s standpoint. It seems that problems in defining significant features of postmodernist aesthetics, poetics and philosophy appear primarily within three spheres which postmodernism has entered. These are the relation between postmodernist and modernist aesthetics, the relation between postmodernist aesthetics of different art forms, and the relation between postmodernist poetics in different cultures or literatures.

If we want to define postmodernism as a movement that covers different arts and different cultures and still can be distinguished from modernism (which itself is multi-faceted) it is not sufficient to name an array of features (such lists of postmodernist features can be easily found in various theoretical works on postmodernism and often can be as easily applied to modernism: e.g. selfreflexivity, intertextuality, playing with genres, openness, immanence). Explaining postmodernist aesthetics through detaching its features and exemplifying them by different works of art, as in Christer Petersen’s Der postmoderne Text[1] is one possible way to come closer to the phenomenon, but if we want to have a kind of postmodernist invariant, applicable to a wide range of works in different cultures, it is best to turn to the Weltanschauung that spans the different cultures and unites the genres.

Postmodernist aesthetics abandoned the claim of truth and with it the principle of mimesis. Thus, a postmodernist text is dealing not with the reality itself, but with our picture of the reality, with theworld view that is given in texts. According to Frederic Jameson’s account of postmodernism:

‹…› the postmodern looks for breaks, for events rather than new worlds, for the telltale instant after which it is no longer the same ‹…› for shifts and irrevocable changes in the representation of things and of the way they change. The moderns ‹…› thought about the thing itself, substantively, in Utopian or essential fashion. Postmodernism is more formal in that sense, and more “distracted” ‹…›, and knows only too well that the contents are just more images.[2]

This kind of aesthetics is often accused of destructiveness (Dmitry Zatonsky[3]), anti-literariness(Dmitry Bavilsky[4], Mark Lipovetsky[5]), senseless playing, dehumanization (Vyacheslav Kuritsyn[6]). These reproaches, however, regard rather literature as an art form and are related more to the fear of losing the notion of beauty. They neglect, however, that postmodernist aesthetics turned out to be an adequate form of deconstructing power discourses. Indeed, one of the most significant features of postmodernism is that it is anti-totalitarian at its core, it challenges every topic from within, every discourse with its own means.

Postmodernist consciousness has produced a new approach to representing historical issues. As postmodernism does not abide by the faithfulness of the text regardless of its genre, historiography is as faithful as fiction, for it is dependent on the generating consciousness to the same extent. Because writing history cannot be objective any more, the postmodernists’ interest for history is unthinkable without playing with the foci within their work. The awareness that the focus makes the whole historiography, allows postmodernists to neglect historical truth, expressed in details and relations, and enables them to investigate the mechanisms of totalitarian power which work not only on the surface but are implicitly present in any public practice.

For both Russian and German literatures it is characteristic that they developed postmodernist poetics later than the American and the most other European literatures. As a remarkable movement, the first Russian and German postmodernist literary works appeared in the late 1980s and the 1990s, when totalitarian issues had been already discussed within realist aesthetics e.g in the works by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Yevgenia Ginzburg, Varlam Shalamov, Yury Trifonov, Christa Wolf, Erich Loest, and Monika Maron.

Totalitarianism was a central issue of Russian postmodernism in the 1980s and 1990s. Nearly all Russian postmodernists touched upon this topic: Vladimir Sorokin, Viktor Yerofeyev, Viktor Pelevin, Yuz Aleshovsky, Andrey Bitov, Tatyana Tolstaya. After 2000, totalitarianism has remained an important issue for Russian postmodernists, although the main focus in Sorokin’s Day of the Oprichnik (2006) and Sugar Kremlin (2008), Yerofeyev’s The Good Stalin (2004), Slapovsky’s Re-judgement (2008) and Yuz Aleshkovsky’s Penultimate Life (2009) shifted from picturing violence, unfreedom and ideological manipulation to contemplating the impact of totalitarianism on today’s Russia.

There are few German-speaking postmodernist works dealing with National Socialism, and all these works share a marginal perspective of it. So, Christoph Ransmayr creates in his Morbus Kitahara(2002) a picture of an isolated Austria or Germany after the Second World War transformed, as a punishment for Nazi crimes, into a pre-modern state. For Uwe Timm in his novel Halbschatten(2008), National Socialism is the background of the biography of German pilot Marga von Etzdorf. Marcel Beyer pictures totalitarianism through the crossing perspectives of the sound engineer Hermann Karnau and Goebbels’ eldest daughter Helga in Flughunde (1995) and through a children’s detective game in Spione (2000).

It seems to be difficult for German-speaking postmodernist authors to deconstruct National Socialism. It is easier to deconstruct the memory discourse dealing with National Socialism and the Holocaust which developed its own phrases, topics, commonplaces, genres and its own market, as well. This is demonstrated by Klaus Modick in his satirical novel Bestseller (2006). He articulates the real causes for the authors’ reluctance of taking up totalitarian issues: Holocaust, National Socialism and Second World War topics are occupied by certain genres as Vaterroman, Familienroman, Dokufiction.

Among German novels dealing with the GDR reality, there are few that use postmodern aesthetics: Thomas Brussig’s Helden wie wir (1995), Uwe Timm’s Johannisnacht (1996), Kurt Drawert’s Ich hielt meinen Schatten für einen anderen und grüßte (2008).

In his novel Die atlantische Mauer (2002), where he points out the similarities of the two regimes, Reinhard Jirgl presents a comparative perspective on National Socialism and GDR-Socialism:

And through the fact that Hitler’s dictatorship handed over the scale of the absolute in horrors to any following dictatorships, the apologists of those successors, mentally of the same type, can henceforth scornfully claim their own incomparability with the predecessor, reckoning not to have gone as far as Hitler. And their argument is designed to obscure the fact that, merely & as the ! reason for the nonappearance of their sameness with Hitler, not enough time was left for these little Hitlers in-the-East and in the GDR ‹…› to realize their measures beginning with the construction of internment camps.[7]

Totalitarianism continues to impact public life in Russia and in Germany, although in very different ways. While the Soviet discourse is still very present in Russia in mass media and in the rhetoric and public performance of various politicians, in Germany dealing critically with totalitarianism became an important part of culture and national identification.

Although Russian and German traditions of representing totalitarianism are often very unlike, there are surprisingly many similarities within their respective literatures.

Repeating Motives

1. Totalitarianism as a physical experience

Totalitarian power is experienced not only on the psychic level, but on the physical level as well. It possesses and controls a human being as a whole, forms not only his thoughts, but also his body, and final liberation from totalitarianism is possible only by destroying the body. For example, in Kurt Drawert’s and Sorokin’s works, people living under Socialist rule are physically damaged, and their mental structures are unable to adjust to new surroundings. In Drawert’s “Ich hielt meinen Schatten für einen anderen und grüßte”, citizens of the former GDR have to learn anew writing and reading after the fall of the regime. Not only enemies of the regime, but also devoted Communists are pictured as cripples (in Drawert’s novel or Viktor Pelevin’s Omon Ra), and the connection between people and authorities is a physical one. Thus the protagonist of Drawert receives a letter from the National People’s Army and instead of signing a receipt has to put an ink mark on the chest of the civil servant who has brought it. The same motive can be found in Marcel Beyer’s Flughunde. National Socialism is pictured from an acoustic perspective. At the beginning, as National Socialism is strong and powerful, its discourse can be perceived almost everywhere, and even for the deaf-mutes it is impossible to elude it. The sound intensity is so strong that their bodies vibrate, and the sounds eat into their bones and flesh. In Beyer’s novel, totalitarianism transforms bodies of both the perpetrators and their victims:

And how he shouts, how he imitates his Führer’s voice, taking the audio system to its maximum capacity. And his voice, as well. Doesn’t he know that every shout, every loud expression tear his vocal chords? (…) The voice will stay scarred for eternity.[8]

At the end of the Second World War, the national socialist discourse is noiseless, and Hitler ceases speaking some days before his death.

2. The human being as a product of the regime

Repeating patterns of every single Soviet life are ironically shown in the second chapter of Sorokin’sThe Norm in the form of 1742 word groups with the word “normal” which refers to “Soviet”. These word groups describe the surroundings of a normal Soviet life, and the fact that these are nominal groups with only one exception communicates the message that there is no motion in this life, nothing happens.

a normal birth
a normal boy
a normal cry
normal breathing
a normal umbilical cord
normal weight
a normal death

In Kurt Drawert’s novel there are many protagonists which have the same names making it difficult to distinguish them from each other. So, all protagonists who execute the will of the authorities are called Tutti, and all GDR-women Barbara, Bärbel, or Babsi. The narrator speaks of himself ascloned social body[9]. The protagonist of Marcel Beyer does not want to be involved in any Nazi actions at the beginning of the novel, but in the course of the war gets involved in denounciations and experiments on humans and spends the last days of the war in a shelter with Hitler and Goebbels. And when his sound archive is found in 1992 close to the former shelter (Karnau is still alive) some rooms look as if operations on humans were still being made there. As one of the versions regarding who helped Magda Goebbels to kill her children, the possibility of Kaurnau’s participation is discussed in the novel. At the end, the author shows Karnau involved in almost all of the horrors committed by the National Socialists.

3. Language as a power tool and simulative character of the reality

Totalitarian power covers the world with its own phrases and concepts, forming a world view and banning and erasing all other concepts and discursive formulas. Marcel Beyer shows die Entwelschung of Alsace expressed not only in the banning of the French language, but also in replacing lexical borrowings from other languages with German equivalents: Meuchelpulver (instead of Revolver), Brotgemeinschaft (instead of Kompanie), Streifen-Selb (instead ofZigarettenautomat).[10]

Kurt Drawert induces the same phenomenon in the socialist discourse in order to to discuss the controversy between the official language and the meaning of the concepts it names.

Things ‹…› are how they are and not how we see them. Or they are how we see them because they are what we claim they are. ‹…› I am because I am or I am because it is acknowledged that I am.[11]

Postmodernist authors reveal the senselessness of socialist life and language by picturing absurd situations and demonstrating how the process of imperative signification works.

The totally simulative character of socialist reality is one of common places in a number of Russian postmodernist works as well as in Drawert’s novel Ich hielt meinen Schatten für einen anderen und grüßte. Absurdity is the main feature of his poetics and pursued on various text levels: the confusing, incoherent plot, the uncertain space and character structure of the whole novel, the playing with language and symbols. Unexpected breaks in the space structure reveal the simulative character of the GDR reality and emphasize the critical message of the novel. So, when the main protagonist is kept in a tiny cell, he is afraid of moving his limbs because of the danger to hit himselfin Heringsdorf / Ostsee an der Zellendecke und in Zinnwald / Erzgebirge am Zellenfußboden.[12]

In Drawert’s novel and in Yuz Aleshkovsky’s Maskirovka, the socialist state is pictured existing beneath the earth. Drawert’s West Germany is above the earth, while his GDR nine levels beneath. Its citizens can only puzzle about what is above. In Aleshkovsky’s novel is placed in a Soviet city where secret military plants work and party meetings are held in beneath the soil, while people imitate a normal life above. Aleshkovsky deconstructs here the central Soviet topos that state interests are more important than the private interests of the citizens. All important things are happening in his novel beneath the soil, and houses, hospitals, cinemas, parks, and people on the surface are needed just to misinform the enemy and their satellite observation systems.

In Kurt Drawert’s novel, the simulative reality is covered with a simulative language, so that socialist texts are unreadable or readable only in a different way.[13] As there is almost no natural signification any more, even simple words lose their sense: horse can mean anything.[14] A giant state machinery is necessary to produce those discursive formulas the only purpose of which is to form a certain consciousness: High meaning attribution from pure non-existence(Hochbedeutungsvergabe aus reinem Nichtsein).[15]

The previous examples illustrate Michel Foucault’s notion of individual subjectivity as proton pseudos which is not able to claim autonomy because it originates from power constellations manifested as discourse formations on the level of language.[16] This affected subjectivity is one of the postmodernist authors’ concerns. In Kurt Drawert’s novel the total simulation in the GDR results in losing the sense of reality, so that his protagonist asks himself, whether he really experienced the things he is speaking about or if he has just dreamt of them. The other consequence of the simulation is people’s perception of reality as full of secret messages calling for interpretation: So, the broadcasting of my poetry (in West Germany) was in a certain way already a farewell from the legend that life had secrets, (…) the truth of which is the unknown.[17]

Russian and German postmodernists demonstrate similar strategies in deconstructing totalitarian language. One of the ways of liberation from the official discourse is re-using and modifying its discursive formulas and prominent quotations. Kurt Drawert often modifies socialist discursive formulas in order to reveal their perverted meanings or lack of any meaning.

Sozialrealismus, Aufbau des Sozialrealismus Arbeiter- und Frauenstaat Verheimlichte Staaten vom Gegenteil der UdSSR Diktatur der Freunde des Proletariats
Deutsche D. Republik
Proletarier aus allen Ländern und vereinigt im Erdreich

Russian postmodernists frequently use the same strategy of deconstructing the Soviet discourse. They put famous Soviet quotations in an inappropriate context in order to show their insignificance.

You must look at what’s happening! The darkness of ignorance is ever thickening, and impoverishment is growing. Have you read Marx? Everyone is drinking more and more. The Social Democrats’ despair grows proportionally, now it’s not Lafite or Cliquot – they somehow succeeded in awakening Herzen. But now all thinking Russia, grieving over the muzhik, drinks and never wakes up. Ring all the bells of London – no one in Russia will raise his head, everyone’s lying in vomit, and life is hard for everyone.[18]

In this passage, Yerofeyev travesties Karl Marx’s well-known thesis of growing impoverishment by and Lenin’s often quoted sentence The Decembrists awakened Herzen.[19]

The other way to liberate from the official Soviet discourse goes through the use of vulgar language. Yuz Aleshkovsky managed to write his latest novel quite exceptionally using obscene words and thieves-talk — a style that gives a very creative and lively impression while on the other hand representing the opposite of the dead Soviet language.

The third way to challenge the Soviet language (widely used by Sorokin) is to let the characters repeat Soviet discursive formulas and long quotations from Soviet newspapers. This begins mostly as a sensible speech or dialog and then develops into endless senseless quotations from Soviet papers. His other favorite strategy in Norma is materializing metaphors of Soviet propaganda texts:locked borderscommunism sproutarms merged with steelto breathe the motherland.

It is remarkable that neither Marcel Beyer nor Christoph Ransmayr deconstruct the National Socialist discourse. In Beyer’s, Goebbels’ “Sportpalastrede” is pictured, but no words are quoted. Some fragments of Goebbels’ speeches appear only in what his eldest daughter Helga’s talks, transformed through the child’s consciousness.

4. The Postmodernist Approach to Representing History

Postmodernism seems to have offered its own strategies for reflecting certain aspects of totalitarianism, such as mechanisms of ideological pressure, the personality cult or the idolization of Russian literature of the XIX. Century.

Thus, Tatyana Tolstaya in her novel Kys (2000) managed to deconstruct the Soviet idolization of Pushkin that began in the 1930s. Apparently such difficult aspects as the appropriation of Pushkin by the regime or the reduction of his work to an ideological interpretation are hardly to reflect within any other, non-playful aesthetics. (In her novel, the inhabitants of Fyodor-Kuzmichsk know only little of Pushkin’s works because most of it got lost in a nuclear catastrophe. The protagonist carves a Pushkin monument out of wood. The monument’s hands have six fingers and no legs, a metaphor of the reduced understanding of Pushkin. And making an idol of Pushkin, the new regime builds a fence around the monument and prohibits walking in its proximity.)

Such aspects of totalitarian power as making an idol of Pushkin are quite difficult to criticize because they aren’t negative. Pushkin wasn’t prohibited, he was appropriated by the regime as a part of its self-legitimization. Of all other poetics, it is postmodernism with its rationality that is seemingly best able to reflect the pure effect of idolization without getting emotionally involved.

It is remarkable that postmodernist aesthetics helps authors to bring in their own perception of history or to touch upon topics which are difficult to handle. Nowadays it is difficult to depict Soviet phenomena in realistic aesthetics because there is a danger of trivializing totalitarian issues, especially because this is exactly what happens at the moment on Russian television and partly in mass culture. But the postmodernist defamiliarization gives the author much more freedom. Such examples of using this freedom are for instance Tatyana Tolstaya who manages to express her own conception of Russian history, and Marcel Beyer who manages to picture the last days of Goebbels’ children in non-realist aesthetics.

In his novel Marcel Beyer plays with the narrators’ perspectives. Both his narrators are from theside of the perpetrators, sometimes their accounts of the last months of Nazi Germany correspond, sometimes they are contradictory. The author touches upon many topics and opens many questions, but leaves many of them unsolved: Was it Karnau who helped Magda Goebbels to kill her children? Was Karnau personally involved in operations on humans? Did he carry out these operations secretly until 1992? The importance of crossing perspectives in historiography seems to be the central message of “Flughunde”. The structure of reality is very complex, and it is important to take this fact into consideration while writing history. One can say that Beyer deconstructs not National Socialism itself but the usual perception of it, the one sided perspective.

In Kurt Drawert’s novel, people living in the GDR are pictured as cripples who never recover from the mental and physical traumas they suffered during socialist times:

They formed tracks that were already obliterate, and in their recollections, they are walking on these tracks farther and farther. They see themselves moving forward because their gaze remains focused on the ground, on one point of this ground that draws a borderline, but they are not walking straight but in a circle. Like prisoners. The head replaces in this case the ball on a chain bound round the ankle.[20]

This image corresponds with the picture of Russian people as mutants in Tatyana Tolstaya’s Kys. The plot of her novel plays after the Soviet regime ended in a nuclear war with only few people surviving. A small group outlived the catastrophe without any physical damage, but the majority mutated, and all born after the catastrophe have something animalistic about their appearance. Their cultural surroundings are very artificial, only the underground culture tries to hold on to traditional European concepts and values as far as they had been known to the Soviet underground. The choice of forbidden texts circulating in the underground is also accidental. In Kys Tatyana Tolstaya pictures underground intellectuals as conformists whose protests against the regime consist of reading forbidden books and small transgressions of public order. Here, underground intellectuals are no danger for the regime because their political claims never leave their own circle. Being an underground artist has become a certain life-style that has no real political agenda. There is an amusing scene in which the dissident Lev Lvovich remembers how he and his friend were persecuted and had to do corrective work: I said no. As his friend asks him, whether he refused to do this corrective work, Lev Lvovich says: I didn’t. But I said no. – Whom, to whom did you say no? – To you, I said no to you.[21]

The confrontation with a different worldview and with different behavioral patterns experienced by people from post-socialist countries is reflected in the image of a hermaphrodite whose gender ambiguity corresponds with the ambiguity of his political views and art preferences (Kurt Drawert,Ich hielt meinen Schatten für einen anderen und grüßte“, Slapovsky Ono).

Some most recent Russian novels deal with the perception of Stalin in contemporary Russia, for example The Good Stalin (2004) by Viktor Yerofeyev and Re-judgement (2008) by Alexey Slapovsky. Both authors emphasize the fact that in Russia the image of Stalin has been mythologized thus preventing a final social condemnation and a clear view of how to categorize him. Viktor Yerofeyev articulates this pessimism very explicitly:

The main paradox of Russian history, I thought, is that in spite of everything, Stalin will remain a positive popular hero. The love for Stalin is an indicator of the archaism of the Russian people. ‹…› No matter how much slop is poured over his head, he lives on. He lives in spite of Perestroika. He has floated up to the surface like a drowned man. He has floated up and risen from the grave. Magical totalitarianism is under Stalin’s copyright. Stalin needs no rehabilitation because he has already been rehabilitated. The Russian soul is by nature Stalinist. The farther Stalin’s victims wither into the past, the stronger and more radiant Stalin becomes.[22]

Alexey Slapovsky in Re-judgement pictures a situation which is meant to be a model of totalitarianism. A few prisoners escape from jail and take hostages in an intercity bus. It turns out that almost every bus passenger has a reason to collaborate with the terrorists. It is rather a rare case in Russian literature that an author takes up the issue of collaboration and tries to show how totalitarianism works not in labor camps or in power structures, but on the level of the individual. Against the background of this plot, one of the characters imagines how he would speak to Stalin and accuse him of crimes against humanity. The author gives three versions of this conversation, and in each one the protagonist loses. In his defense, Stalin uses various Soviet demagogical strategies (referring to socialistic democracyclass struggle, the image of the enemy, the building of socialism, the notion of just and impartial criminal proceedings in the Soviet Union) and puts forward arguments which are common for every discussion about Stalin in Russia: the people love him, Russians are not mature to account for their own lives, Russians are spoiled and need terror, Stalin prevented the Russian state from disintegration, Stalin won the Second World War, and so on.

Similar causes for the mythologization of Stalin are articulated in Reinhard Jirgl’s Die atlantische Mauer:

This discontent & contempt made those disappointed unintentionally go over something in their disposition that had already appeared decades before – and still more photos and still more slipped time –, in the generation of their fathers=in-the-after=war, already in the latter’s attitude towards Hitler: towards Stalin: the bigger the atrocities of the one, the farther vanished the misdeeds of the other out of sight because what was to stick to the one mass murderer as an epithet therefore had to be denied all the more about the other: Stalin’s scale rose with every one of Hitler’s deeds farther up into the bright sky of innocence.[23]

Contemporary Russian authors are rather scrutinizing of Stalinism through today’s Russian society, that’s why they don’t investigate into the grounds of the Stalin cult. Jirgl names one important point in the mechanism of Stalin’s mythologization: the cult of the Great Patriotic War was based on different narratives among which one became dominant: it contrasted the crimes of Nazist Germany with the losses and damages of the Soviet Union. And it was this interpretation of the war that made the crimes of Stalinism fall into the shade.

Although German postmodernist works reflecting totalitarianism are much fewer than Russian ones, in both literatures there are some similarities in the perception of totalitarian regimes. As the aim of postmodernist authors dealing with such subjects is to reveal and deconstruct the mechanisms of ideological pressure, they focus only on totalitarian features of the Soviet Union, the GDR and Nazi Germany and do not contemplate e.g. the inner life of those societies. German works picturing Nazi Germany do not deconstruct its language even though they indicate the significant role of language as a power tool there. The strategies of deconstructing the Soviet official discourse and the Socialist discourse of the GDR are related very closely. Both literatures use the method of deconstructing the discourse with its own means. What makes a significant difference in the ways of representing the Nazi and the Soviet ideologies is the focus of narration. While Russian postmodernist stories turn around the mythologized figure of Stalin, who is often presented in the narration as one of the characters, the German authors are prone to use the marginal perspective of National Socialism which allows them to bring in a different view and liberates them from common places of theVerarbeitung of the the experience of National Socialism, usual for a number of literary genres likeVaterromanElternroman, and Dokufiktion.

Yulia Arskaya is a lecturer in Russian philology at Irkutsk State University. Born in 1980, she studied at Irkutsk State Linguistic University and Irkutsk State University. She holds a Ph.D from the Siberian Federal University (Krasnoyarsk). Her research focus is on Russian and German contemporary literature. Email: .


1. Christer Petersen, Der postmoderne Text. Rekonstruktion einer zeitgenössischen Ästhetik am Beispiel von Thomas Pynchon, Peter Greenaway und Paul Wühr, Kiel: Verlag Ludwig 2010, 327 p.

2. Frederic Jameson, Postmodernism, or, The cultural logic of late capitalism, Durham: Duke University Press 1991, p. ix.

3. Dmitri? Zatonski?, Modernism i postmodernism: mysli ob izvechnom kolovrashchenii iziashchnykh i neiziashchnykh iskusstv,Moskva: AST 2000, p. 135.

4. Dmitri? Bavilski?, “ Marinina i Dashkova ubili postmodern“,

5. Mark Lipovetsky, Russian Postmodernist Fiction: Dialogue with Chaos, New York: M.E.Sharpe 1999.

6. Viacheslav Kuritsyn, Russki? literaturny? postmodernism, Moskva: OGI 2000, p. 115.

7. Reinhard Jirgl, Die atlantische Mauer, München: DTV 2000, p. 57.

8. Marcel Beyer, Flughunde, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1996, pp. 14-15.

9. Kurt Drawert, Ich hielt meinen Schatten für einen anderen und grüßte, München: C.H.Beck 2008, p. 241.

10. According to Gerd Simon („Die Bemühungen um Sprachämter und ähnliche Norminstanzen im Deutschland der letzten hundert Jahre“ these are the words which Goebbels rejected.

11. Kurt Drawert, Ich hielt meinen Schatten für einen anderen und grüßte, op. cit., pp. 74-75.

12. Ibid., p. 130.

13. Ibid., p. 134.

14. Ibid., p. 126.

15. Ibid., p. 135.

16. Peter.V. Zima, Theorie des Subjekts, Tübingen: A.Francke Verlag 2010, p. 38.

17. Kurt Drawert, Ich hielt meinen Schatten für einen anderen und grüßte, op. cit., p. 220.

18. Venedikt Erofeev, Moscow to the End of the Line, Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press 1994, p. 83.

19. Vladimir Lenin, “In Memory of Herzen”, in: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Collected WorksVolume 18, Moscow: Progress Publishers 1975, p. 25.

20. Kurt Drawert, Ich hielt meinen Schatten für einen anderen und grüßte, op. cit., p. 235.

21. Tat’iana Tolstaia, Kys’, Moskva: Eksmo 2004, p. 264.

22. Viktor Erofeev, Khoroshi? Stalin, Sankt-Peterburg: Azbuka klassika 2004, p. 343.

23. Reinhard Jirgl, Die atlantische Mauer, op. cit., p. 57.

Social Transformations in Theory and Practice

IWM Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences, Vol. XXXI
© 2012 by the author
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Preferred citation: Arskaya, Yulia. 2012. Some Aspects of Deconstruction of Totalitarianism in Russian and German Postmodernist Literature. In: Social Transformations in Theory and Practice, ed. M. Bucholc, Vienna: IWM Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences, Vol. 31.