Die linguistischen Artikel betreffen die slavische Sprachgeschichte (lexikalisch-semantischer Wandel sowie die Vita Constantini), Tempus und Aspekt im Russischen (Form-Funktionszusammenhang vom Morphem zum Text) sowie Fragen der sprachlichen Identitätskonstruktion (allgemein und im Slavischen).
- Zitierfähigkeit des eBooks
- Madness and Literature
- Andrei Rogatchevski, Madnes and Literature (Maija Könönen)
- Two Sides of the Same Coin? Fictional Representations of Madness by Doctors and Patients in the 1880s-1930s (Andrei Rogatchevski (London))
- The Foolish Wanderer in Contemporary Russian Prose. Natal’ia Kliucharëva’s Novel Rossiia: obshchii vagon and Postsecular Fiction (Maija Könönen (Helsinki))
- Mapping the Black Void: Ianka Diagileva’s poem ‘Klassicheskii depresniak’ (Yngvar B. Steinholt (Tromsø))
- A Holy Fool of Our Time? Petr Pavlenskii as a Case Study of the Paradigm of Iurodstvo in Modern Russian Performance Art (Sylwia Hlebowicz (Kielce))
- Norm and Alterity in Linor Goralik’s Valerii and Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Ekaterina Prosandeeva (Joensuu))
- Literaturwissenschaftliche Beiträge
- Машинальный шаманизм в траурном марше. Симптомология одного стихотворения (Валерий Мерлин (Jerusalem))
- Странничество как экзистенциальная категория у А. Платонова (Hans Günther (Bielefeld))
- Литературная антиутопия в поисках жанровой идентичности (Борис Ланин (Москва))
- Linguistische Beiträge
- Semantic Change in Slavic Inherited Lexicon: An Initial Analysis (Danko Šipka (Tempe, Arizona State University))
- Vita Cyrilli III: 18-26. Hagiographie, Biographie und historische Faktizität (Thomas Daiber (Göttingen))
- Aspekt und Tempus: Die Zeitintervalle vom Lexem bis zum Diskurs (Am Beispiel des Russischen und Deutschen) (Volkmar Lehmann (Hamburg))
- Identität und Sprache: Zum inter-dependenten Verhältnis von Identitätskonstruktion und Sprachgebrauch (Dennis Scheller-Boltz (Wien))
- Erstellung der Druckvorlage: Aage Hansen-Löve (Tilmann Reuther)
Wiener Slawistischer Almanach 80 (2017), 7-13
What is the role of literature in articulating madness?
In Shoshana Felman’s words (2003, 2, 4-5), the specificity of literature lies in its constitutive relation to what culture has excluded under the label “madness” (nonsense, alienating strangeness, a transgressive excess, an illusion, a delusion, a disease). Felman poses the same question as we do in this issue: why and how do literary writers reclaim the discourse of the person who is believed to be mad? By asking what it means to be mad, literary texts destabilize the boundary line between the inner world of the madman and the outside world, between the other and the same. Literary texts communicate with madness “– with what has been excluded, decreed abnormal, unacceptable, or senseless – by dramatizing a dynamically renewed, revitalized relation between sense and nonsense, between reason and unreason, between the readable and the unreadable” (Felman 2003, 5).
Literature provides a flexible mode of expressing and rendering a meaning to the often unfathomable complexity of insanity. It can illustrate individual, situated cases (thus coming closer to the medical discourse) in such a way that the individual experience is linked to a broader frame of reference, for instance to social and political breakage points that affect the psyche of an individual. To quote Lillian Feder (1980, xi), madness as a theme of literature “has always dealt with personal responses to environmental influences, which include political, social, and cultural pressures, or […] which exclude nothing”.
However, in literature the individual is rarely limited to a study case and a plain diagnosis. Patients’ stories engender plots and reveal diseases’ widespread and long-lasting causes and consequences, relevant to, and indicative of, societies at large. Also, in literature, as in other arts, one tends to question the borders of definition between the so-called normal and the so-called abnormal, which may widen conventional perceptions of the (in)sane personality and behaviour. This is possible, because in literature it is human experience that forms the narrative crux of the text telling us how it feels to suffer from a mental disorder. When a disease adopts a verbal form in a literary text (or a visual form in film or fine art), it materialises in the mind of the reader and may generate empathy. In ← 7 | 8 → literature and art, madness finds its own rhetoric and logic, and with them, its own champions.
The appearance of madness as a literary theme cannot be ascribed to any particular period in history or any national literature, literary movement or genre. Literary representations of madness have occurred throughout the world for centuries from the classical period (see O’Brien-Moore 1924) onwards (see Feder 1980). Madness and theories of madness have always nourished literature, and vice versa, literature has provided material upon which theory has worked (see Thiher 1999). In Western literature, the theme of madness was reinforced in the late 18th and early 19th centuries owing to pre-romantic and romantic tendencies. This re-emergence of insanity as a literary theme roughly coincided with the first steps of psychiatry as a specialised field within medicine.
Notwithstanding the fact that perceptions of madness have varied throughout the centuries, certain views have been persistent in Western literature. In the sentimentalist and romantic literature mental illness was a fashionable subject both in poetry and prose. While in classical literature madness was chiefly linked to acts of violence, on the one hand, and truthful prophesies, on the other (see, for example, Rosenshield 2003, 11-14), Romantic poets stressed the unity of insanity and artistic creativity, madness and (gendered) male genius. The role of the author was given a new primacy as a visionary and a tormented outcast. The romantic concept of poetic madness arose as a counterforce to the belief in the power of human reason, propagated by the Enlightenment. The compelling relation between madness and creativity, madness as an ambiguous state of disorder and a possible opening onto a “heightened” understanding still attracts authors and scholars of literature (see Saunders and Macnaughton 2005).
The production and interpretation of madness as a literary phenomenon is not only culturally bound but subjected to changes in the course of time. Therefore, the changing meanings invested with the notion of madness, its functions and modes of representation remain unrecognised and incomprehensible if not placed in a broader historical, cultural and social context. The psychiatric discourse with its emphasis on classifications of symptoms and diagnoses has introduced even more universality to the discussion of mental disorders. This does not mean, however, that madness may not obtain distinctive characteristics and connotations in different cultural contexts. In addition to individual experiences and individual identities, mental disorders can reflect collective mental states. Thus madness, in the variety of its manifestations, acquires metaphorical dimensions. On the one hand, these metaphorical cultural meanings and functions are dynamic and changing. On the other, they can be used to illustrate more permanent cultural characteristics, a sort of national pathological heritage.
In the Russian cultural context, these characteristics and connotations appear to be particularly persisting, so much so that quite a few writers feel compelled ← 8 | 9 → to define his/her position in relation to literary parameters set up by predecessors.
Generally speaking, Russian literature has followed Western tendencies, albeit with some delay, in its treatment of madness in the 18th and the 19th centuries. As far as the discourse on madness is concerned, Russian romantic poetry is dominated by the union of madness and artistic creativity. In the early 19th century, madness becomes a common theme also in prose and drama. Apart from the obvious influence of Western literary models, the Russian press with its accounts of mental asylums and the mentally disturbed – mixing facts with fiction – raises the interest of both authors and the reading public in the theme (see, e.g. Zolotusskii 1987).
Starting from the 1840s, the Romantic concept of poetic madness gives way to a more versatile treatment of insanity in realistic prose. Dostoevsky’s fiction, for example, abounds with mad characters, whose insanity does not only indicate individual suffering but has a social bearing, as well as religious connotations (see Murav 1992). The fin-de-siècle symbolist writers with their neo-romantic inclinations reformulate the idea of poetic madness by linking it to the aesthetics of decadence. In the works of other Russian modernist movements, the inner turmoil is often a reflection of the abrupt historical changes that have taken place in the surrounding world. The fragmented reality, together with its unpredictable impact on individual lives (a writer’s position and fate in particular) is often depicted in terms of madness. The theme of madness disappears from official Soviet literature during Stalin’s purges of the 1930s. It resurfaces first in émigré literature and later in postmodernist prose in the wake of perestroika in the 1980s.
In Russian literary scholarship, there are certain approaches that have been particularly popular in the examination of literary representations of madness. Several studies are devoted to the investigation of the connection between the empirical author and his/her works deploying methods of biographical studies together with textual analysis. Interpretations are often based on psychoanalytical theories. The pioneer of the psychoanalytical approach to works of art in Russia was Ivan Ermakov, whose accounts date to the 1920s-30s (see Ermakov 1999). A more recent scholar with a psychoanalytic approach is Igor P. Smirnov (1994), whose work covers 150 years of various manifestations of Russian literary madness. It sheds light, among other things, on the Oedipus complex in Dostoevsky’s novels, hysteria and obsession in symbolism, sadism in the avantgarde, masochism and kenosis in Soviet prose, as well as narcissism in Russian postmodern literature.
Contemporary scholars of Russian literature, both in Russia and in the West, have been attracted by the mental state of writers, as can be witnessed by Irina Sirotkina (2002) and Frederick H. White (2006 and 2014). Sirotkina (2002, 910) ← 9 | 10 → stresses the importance of literature in providing case studies for the rising domain of Russian psychiatry. She sees the psychiatrists’ production of pathographies and discussions of literary characters as a continuation of the Russian tradition of debating political and social issues in the form of literary criticism. Overall, “madness” and “yellow house” (zhëltyi dom, a Russian euphemism for a lunatic asylum) serve as fundamental metaphors for Russia as a whole, commonly used by writers, artists, journalists, filmmakers and the public. As Julie V. Brown (2007, 297) asserts, images of “insanity” and “the asylum” are regularly employed to assess Russia’s collective past and to express frustrations with its present (cf. an online comment to Podrez 2017, which estimates the number of people in need of psychiatric care in today’s Russia at around 14 million, or roughly 10% of the country’s population: “мы все из одного дурдома, только из разных палат” / “it’s the same madhouse for us all, only the wards are different”).
The above-mentioned works by Russianists attest to the fact that they have mostly been interested in the representations of madness in the 19th century classics, Gogol and Dostoevsky in particular. It is of course not advisable or even possible to avoid time-honored depictions of insanity in Russian culture. Inevitably, our collection of articles focuses on the domestic Russian tradition of exemplifying what is often deemed to be insane behaviour, through either canonical literary works (by Vsevolod Garshin, Anton Chekhov, Leonid Andreev and Mikhail Bulgakov in the article by Andrei Rogatchevski) or a customary personal lifestyle (e.g. the iurodivyi phenomenon in the articles by Maija Könönen and Sylwia Hlebowicz).
Yet we have slightly expanded the scope of our research material in terms of chronology, to include more contemporary authors; in terms of gender, to include more women writers, such as Ianka Diagileva, Linor Goralik and Natal’ia Kliucharëva (in the articles by Yngvar Steinholt, Ekaterina Prosandeeva and Maija Könönen respectively); in terms of genre, to include rock-related poetry (Diagileva) and performance art (Petr Pavlenskii, in the article by Sylwia Hlebowicz). We have added a comparative perspective, too (Goralik vs. the British author Mark Haddon), as the concept of insanity cannot be fully understood without an international context.
In all of them madness, whether genuine of feigned, comes to the fore in diverse forms, serving different purposes and gaining different, often metaphoric meanings, that may go well beyond the purely medical discourses of sanity/insanity (recent studies of Russian “folly” and “irrationality” – see Tabachnikova 2016 and Ready 2017 – are a further evidence of such a broad approach to madness and its representations). Yet there are recurrent motifs in the texts explored in our volume, as well as in the literature of madness in general, namely the ambiguous and context-related meanings attributed to the concept of reason ← 10 | 11 → and the significance of insight into madness. Besides, as most of the texts and phenomena we examine are contemporary, we hope to jointly disclose some sources of frustration in the “yellow house” of Russian society today.
Yet we are far from being judgmental. In this special issue’s collective interpretation of insanity we are inclined to respond to Michel Foucault´s appeal to try and reach ”that zero point in the course of madness at which madness is an undifferentiated experience, a not yet divided experience of division itself” (Foucault 2003, xi). Ever since the boundary between madness and non-madness had been drawn, the realm of madness kept encroaching on that of non-madness (the opposite tendency also being in evidence from time to time). For our part, this issue’s contributors prefer to relativise the professional and public discourse, whenever it becomes less permissive and more inclusive towards what is perceived as a mental disorder. After all, no other person than Allen Frances, the overall editor of the fourth revised version of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, known as DSM-IV (1994) – a standard reference book for many psychiatrists everywhere – said:
Psychiatric diagnoses are getting closer and closer to the boundary of normal. <…> That boundary is very populous. The most crowded boundary is the boundary with normal, <…> <because> there is a societal push for conformity in all ways, there’s less tolerance of difference. (Ronson 2011, 258).
Moreover, as the journalist Jon Ronson puts it, it may well be that it is exactly ”trying so hard to be normal that <is> making everyone so afraid they <are> going crazy” (ibid., 222).
In such a situation, it appears legitimate to posit a question, who is madder, the person regarded as mad by society (cf. especially a powerful ”cultural tradition that represents ‘woman’ as madness”, Showalter 1987, 4), or society itself? As early as 1689, the English writer Thomas Tryon considered the issue and concluded: ”The world is but a great Bedlam, where those that are more mad lock up those who are less” (Tryon 1689, 266). More than three hundred years later, another journalist, Adam Curtis, sounds remarkably similar to Tryon, when he explains how he and his fellow journalists find what they need in their hunt for resonant stories:
We sit in people’s houses, our notepads in our hands, and we wait for the gems. And the gems invariably turn out to be the madness – the extreme, outermost aspects of that person´s personality – the irrational anger, the anxiety, the paranoia, the narcissism, the things that would be defined within DSM as mental disorders. We´ve dedicated our lives to it. We know what we do is odd but nobody talks about it. <…> My question is, what does all this say about our sanity? (Ronson 2011, 180) ← 11 | 12 →
On the other hand, it would perhaps be equally presumptious to claim that a medical diagnosis is little else but society´s self-defence mechanism and only the righteous people are labelled insane. To put it differently, ”at what point querying diagnostic criteria tip over into mocking the unusual symptoms of people in very real distress?” (ibid., 244).
Fortunately, humanity in its best practice has come far enough from the utterly diagnostic and dehumanizing psychiatric culture in which the human sameness between the patent and the doctor was denied by hiding behind the doctor’s medical authority. “If a doctor has a desire to understand his/her patient, he/she has to recognize the same spot in his/her own psyche and examine it”, says the Finnish psychiatrist poet Claes Andersson (2017). “A mental disorder is always a message, a means to tell something to the surrounding world. It is important to understand what the meaning of the disease is to the person himself,” Andersson continues. And, we may add, what kind of message does it carry to the whole community or culture, since pathological mental states can hardly be separated from the surrounding reality?
It is not at all easy to obtain definitive answers to this and similar questions. But that is exactly why it is extremely important to listen to the voices of madness, moulded and amplified by literature. Despite having been socially, politically and philosophically repressed throughout our cultural history, madness has made itself heard and survived as a speaking subject, mainly through literature.
That is also probably why the study of insanity’s definitions, manifestations and representations, in Russia and elsewhere, shows no sign of abatement. This special issue is but a modest addition to the relevant knowledge mass.
Andersson, Claes 2017. Tohtorin oppivuodet [Doctor’s Years of Apprenticeship: An Interview with Claes Andersson], Helsingin sanomat, 15 January 2017, C1-C3.
Brown, Julie V. 2007. Afterword, in: Angela Brintlinger and Ilya Vinitsky (eds), Madness and the Mad in Russian Culture, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 283-299.
Ermakov, I. D. 1999. Psikhoanaliz literatury: Pushkin, Gogol’, Dostoevskii, Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie.
Feder, Lillian 1980. Madness in Literature, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Foucault, Michel 2003. Madness and Civilisation: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, transl. from the French by Richard Howard, London and New York: Routledge.
Murav, Harriet 1992. Holy Foolishness: Dostoevsky’s Novels and the Poetics of Cultural Critique, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
O’Brien-Moore, A. 1924 Madness in Ancient Literature, Weimar: R. Wagner Sohn.
Podrez, Taras 2017. Samye sumasshedshie regiony Rossii, Life.ru, 17 February.https://life.ru/t/социология/974715/samyie_sumasshiedshiie_rieghiony_r_ossii (accessed on 6 June 2017).
Ready, Oliver 2017. Persisting in Folly: Russian Writers in Search of Wisdom, 1963-2013, Bern: Peter Lang.
Ronson, Jon 2011. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, London: Picador.
Rosenshield, Gary 2003. Pushkin and the Genres of Madness: The Masterpieces of 1933, Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.
Saunders, Corinne and Jane Macnaughton (eds) 2005. Madness and Creativity in Literature and Culture, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Showalter, Elaine 1987. The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture, 1830-1980, London: Virago.
Sirotkina, Irina 2002. Diagnosing Literary Genius: A Cultural History of Psychiatry in Russia, 1880-1930, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Smirnov, Igor P. 1994. Psikhodiakhronologika: Psikhoistoriia russkoi literatury ot romantizma do nashikh dnei, Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie.
Tabachnikova, Olga (ed.) 2016. Facets of Russian Irrationalism between Art and Life: Mystery inside Enigma, Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Thiher, Allen 1999. Revels in Madness: Insanity in Medicine and Literature, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Tryon, Thomas 1689. A Treatise of Dreams and Visions, London: T. Sowle.
White, Frederick H. 2006. Memoirs and Madness: Leonid Andreev through the Prism of the Literary Portrait, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
White, Frederick H. 2014. Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle: Neurasthenia in the life and work of Leonid Andreev (Durham Modern Languages Series MUP), Manchester & New York: Manchester University Press.
Wiener Slawistischer Almanach 80 (2018), 15-29
No one seems to know more about different forms of mental disorder than psychiatric patients and doctors who treat them, yet their respective representations of insanity (those that are on the record, intelligible enough and publicly available) are rarely examined together, especially as far as Russia is concerned.1 The key questions here appear to be: To what extent do such representations by doctors, on the one hand, and patients, on the other, compete? And does the combined picture tend to be fragmented and inconclusive, or coherent and comprehensive?
In her article in the collection on Madness and the Mad in Russian Culture, Angela Brintlinger writes of a “struggle between writers [i.e. authors] and doctors [i.e. psychiatrists] for control over the discourse of madness during the second half of the XIX century [in Russia]” (2007, 175). Such a struggle took place partly because the psychiatrists, mostly utilising specialised journals, must have felt that the authors involved, mostly using the popular press, “were all too personally familiar with the condition of madness itself” (2007, 181), presumably as potential or actual psychiatric patients – which called for a professional medical perspective on the subject.
It can be claimed, however, that doctors’ participation in this struggle went well beyond the XIX century2 and was not limited to non-fiction, as some doctors, whether psychiatrists or (perhaps more often) general practitioners, were authors themselves.3 It would be interesting to survey, albeit briefly, how the ← 15 | 16 → physician writer’s gaze (as opposed to that of a patient) influences fictional representations of madness.4 My research material belongs to the period from the establishment of psychiatric specialisation in Russia in the late XIX century up until the emergence of the so-called punitive psychiatry in the USSR in the 1940s (see, for example, Bloch and Reddaway 1977; Podrabinek 1979; and Prokopenko 1997), marking the moment when the Soviet state, not the doctor, took ultimate charge of the patient.
The canonical Russian stories of insanity that I have selected, by Vsevolod Garshin, Anton Chekhov, Leonid Andreev and Mikhail Bulgakov, jointly provide a blueprint of a composite Russian fictional “syn-text” on madness for the delineated time period. To this blueprint, other texts by the same (and different, suitably qualified) authors can be added, in order to establish in greater detail such texts’ unifying features (as opposed to the features that keep them apart). For a wider context, brief forays into non-Russian discourses on madness are occasionally made.
A typical if somewhat idealised view of medics (including their vision of humanity), can be summarized by a quote from Sergei Chekin (1897-1970), a physician writer and Gulag survivor:
Еще с древних времен врачи более других были свободны в своей работе. Врачебное искусство в равной степени применялось у постели ← 16 | 17 → богатого и бедного больного, ни перед кем врачи не раболепствовали и не идолопоклонничали. Пожалуй, из всех профессий умственного труда врачи самые рациональные и свободолюбивые. Для врачей никаких идолов не существует, врачебная наука и практика космополитичны, интернациональны. Им чужда расовая, национальная и прочая дребедень звериного свойства. Врачебная наука и практика видят в каждом больном человека с большой буквы без мундиров, чинов и званий. (Chekin 2013, 119-20)
Since ancient times, physicians have been more independent than many other professionals. Medical treatment has been applied equally to rich and poor patients. Physicians would not bow down to or idolize anyone. Of all intellectuals, medics are arguably the most rational and freedom-loving. They have known no deity. Medical science and practice is cosmopolitan and international. They shun racism, nationalism and other beastly nonsense like that. Medical science and practice treat all patients as human beings, irrespective of their rank, status or title.5
It is tempting to see a manifestation of such views in the psychiatrist Pavel Karpov’s (1873-?) attitude to mental disorders as a sign of humanity’s progress, not degradation:
Человечество не закончило цикла своего развития. Скелет, мышцы и внутренние органы сравнительно мало изменяются в смысле прогресса; что же касается центральной нервной системы, то последняя делает большие шаги вперед. На пути развития среди человечества появляются такие индивиды, которые опережают в своем развитии остальное человечество, поэтому эти индивиды представляют из себя неустойчивые формы в отношении заболевания душевным расстройством. Следовательно, человечество в лице душевнобольных приносит жертвы, устилая путь своего развития людьми, впадающими в состояние психического хаоса. (Karpov 1926, 7)
Mankind has not yet completed its development cycle. Skeleton, muscles and inner body parts change relatively little in terms of progress [these days]. As for the central nervous system, it is [still] making great strides forward. In the course of development, there appear such individuals among mankind, who in their evolution are well ahead of the rest of humanity. With regard to mental disorder, such individuals represent a volatile form. Therefore, people of unsound mind are sacrifices that humanity makes. Its advancement is paved by the people, who have fallen into a state of mental chaos.
The trouble is, irrespective of how representative and widespread Karpov’s benign opinion of psychiatric patients was, it did not guarantee them a happy ← 17 | 18 → time either in society or in isolation. Those at the receiving end of psychiatric treatment, who had a receptive audience and the eloquence to describe their condition, did not hesitate to try and arouse empathy when given the chance.
A psychiatric ward was a natural place of interaction between patients and medical staff, and it is not at all surprising to come across rather depressing descriptions of such wards by patients. A classic example is the partly autobiographical short story ‘Krasnyi tsvetok’ (The Scarlet Flower, 1883) by Vsevolod Garshin (1855-88), a bipolar disorder sufferer who was hospitalised in 1872 and 1880 in St Petersburg, Orel and Kharkiv, and committed suicide at the age of 33 (for some details, see Wessling 2007).6 In this story about a manic depressive with a fixation on a poppy flower allegedly embodying the world’s evil, a provincial psychiatric hospital – modelled on the Saburova Dacha psychiatric clinic in Kharkiv (see Reilly 2013, 284-85) – is depicted as an overcrowded place with limited air circulation and violent treatment methods:
Это было большое каменное здание старинной казенной постройки. Два больших зала, один – столовая, другой – общее помещение для спокойных больных, широкий коридор со стеклянною дверью, выходившей в сад с цветником, и десятка два отдельных комнат, где жили больные, занимали нижний этаж; тут же были устроены две темные комнаты, одна обитая тюфяками, другая досками, в которые сажали буйных, и огромная мрачная комната со сводами – ванная. [...] Больница была устроена на восемьдесят человек, но так как она одна служила на несколько окрестных губерний, то в ней помещалось до трехсот. В небольших каморках было по четыре и по пяти кроватей; зимой, когда больных не выпускали в сад и все окна за железными решетками бывали наглухо заперты, в больнице становилось невыносимо душно. (Garshin 1983, 204)
It was a large stone building of old-fashioned [state-funded] construction. Two large halls-one a dining-room, the other a common room for the quiet inmates-a wide passage with a glass door leading into the garden, and about twenty separate rooms where the inmates lived, occupied the ground floor; on the same floor were two dark rooms, one padded, the other boarded, where the violent patients were kept, and a great gloomy room with a vaulted ceiling which was the bath-room. [...] The hospital had been built for eighty patients, but as it was the only one serving several adjacent gubernias, it accommodated up to three hundred. The tiny rooms contained as many as four and five beds; in the winter, when the patients were not allowed out into the garden, and all the windows behind their iron bars were shut tight, the air in the hospital became unbearably stuffy. (Garshin 1961, 84) ← 18 | 19 →
Even though there is an occasional display of kindness on behalf of the hospital staff, from top to bottom in its hierarchy (e.g. a warden says to a patient: “Кушайте, милый, на здоровье” / ”My dear man, you´re welcome to it”; and the chief doctor, to his assistant: “Мне не хотелось бы прибегать к насилию” / ”I should not like to resort to force” (Garshin 1983, 213, 215; Garshin 1961, 89, 91), the main protagonist is still tied up for his own good7 and, on arrival, administered leech therapy: ”Боль от этой операции, невыносимая и для спокойного и здорового человека, показалась больному концом всего. […] Он думал, что ему отрубили голову” / ”The pain of that operation, unbearable even to a calm and sane person, seemed the end of everything to the patient. [...] He thought he had had his head cut off” (Garshin 1983, 205-6; Garshin 1961, 85). Overall, the patient’s impressions of the clinic are summed up as “hell itself” (“самый ад”, Garshin 1983, 205).
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- 2019 (November)
- Linguistik Slavistik Sprachgeschichte Tempus und Aspekt Form-Funktion-Zusammenhang Sprachliche Identitätskonstruktion Literaturwissenschaft Kulturwissenschaft Poetik und Semantik Sowjetliteratur Utopische Romane
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