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She is currently serving as a corps member at City Year in Washington D. This paper was published as part of Vestnik: The Journal of Russian and Asian Studies. The collective legacy of the Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky has been influenced by fact and fiction from various sources, including the historical realities of his era, the political agenda of his homeland, his reception by fellow modernists, and the poet himself.
Mayakovsky was born in in Baghdati, which is now a city in modern-day Georgia. He engrained himself within Russian political culture after settling into Moscow, until he was ableto attend college to study art before dropping out.
Mayakovsky Square poetry readings
While enrolled as an art student at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture Московское училище живописи, ваяния и зодчества , Mayakovsky met David Burlyuk; the two quickly became friends due to their shared interests in art and political activism.
In April of , Mayakovsky committed suicide at the age of 36 Woroszylski Mayakovsky was a pro-Bolshevik supporter, so one can understand this association within the Revolution. Studying this dual-representation can provoke many questions about the true Mayakovsky. More so, how was this shift created, and how can we benefit from analyzing it? In an attempt to shed clarity upon the lyrical embodiments of his work, we will analyze key verses by Mayakovsky. We will see how this side of his persona will be contrasted with the imposing, constructed legacy of Mayakovsky as a sort-of political martyr for revolutionary Russia—the Mayakovsky that can still be seen as a bronze statue, both literally and figuratively, in the streets of Moscow.
These writers were members of the Moscow-based literary group Gileya Гилея , which was founded in by Burlyuk; others, including Kamensky, Khlebnikov, Kruchenykh, and Mayakovsky, joined in The Academy and Pushkin are less intelligible than hieroglyphics. The ideas of the manifesto, as well as its authors, are passengers on the Ship of Modernity. This was an allegorical representation of what the Futurists had believed to be the necessary path from an obstructed, misleading past of outdated ideas.
Mayakovsky: The Poetry of Action (1973) - IMDb
During this time, modernization, especially in the form of construction, was emphasized as a crucial detail of transformation into a modern-day country. It is interesting to consider how this manifesto used allegory and detailed symbolism, cornerstones of lyrical expression, to support a Revolutionary-fueled agenda.
The usefulness of analyzing this manifesto is especially important because it was written when Mayakovsky first began associating with the Futurists, this occurred after he was released from prison for the first time due to his political activities.
Although this manifesto does not describe Mayakovsky himself, it helps explain his entire ideology, which will be discussed later. Ann Charters of the University of Connecticut describes this multi-faceted effect in her book I Love: The filmmaker Christopher Edgar further supports this struggle within Mayakovsky in his article published in the anthology Night Wraps the Sky, edited by Michael Almereyda.
He chain smoked and almost never smiled, mostly due to the poor condition of his teeth. He describes this iconic yellow blouse in his autobiography: I never had any suits. Had two blouses—hideous things. Mayakovsky was often boastful and could be seen as a narcissist based on several depictions of him by his contemporaries. In his youth, he would frequently pursue women and attempt to pique their interest in him with copies of his poetry.
On one occasion in , he presented the actress Alexandra Rebikova with a copy of this poem while they were in a cab together after working on a film, and she said that she did not understand any of his verses. She laughed and was met with his grim smile: There was a similar occurrence when Lili Brik read this poem for the first time: These dramatic responses to unfavorable feedback were overinflated reactions to cover up the lyrical, sensitive, vulnerable Mayakovsky—the poet who could only be sustained by the praise and support of others.
Instead of throwing classic writers such as Pushkin and Dostoyevsky off of this ship, Mayakovsky insisted on purging his poetry when it was not understood by those he wanted to persuade. Later, Gorky wrote about this very meeting with Mayakovsky in a letter to a friend: I moved him with my poems. This made me a little proud.
The Paradoxes of Vladimir Mayakovsky
Mayakovsky had created his own myth, perhaps more as a coping mechanism than anything else. This behavior was far from unusual for Mayakovsky; when he traveled through America in the early s and eventually published My Journey to America in , he would frequently make jokes at the expense of various people in the audience, directly mocking them and provoking a response with his humor and gestures simply for his own amusement and pleasure Night Wraps the Sky This boisterous behavior can be contrasted with other public depictions of Mayakovsky, such as those at the end of his life.
He held a large exhibition of his work three weeks before his death, which only young people attended, and few people seemed interested in the work he had recently produced. The basic goal of the exhibition is Nadezhda Mandelstam, the wife of the famous soviet writer Osip Mandelstam, wrote a first-person memoir called Hope Against Hope.
This account explains Mrs. The Multiple Deaths of a Poet After his suicide in April of , Mayakovsky was portrayed by the Soviet press as a supporter of the revolution who also made the active choice not to join the Communist Party, thereby decreasing his worth as a writer.
Lili Brik sent a letter to Joseph Stalin in complaining about these public attacks in the newspapers. It is still present today. In central Moscow, there is a statue of Mayakovsky on Triumfalnaya Square about a kilometer north of Pushkin Square that was erected in Boym describes this representation in Death in Quotation Marks: As Boym cites in Death in Quotation Marks: The political struggle within Mayakovsky emphasizes his persona as a pro-Bolshevik poet, in favor of the revolution and Communism.
Coexisting within this persona is a lyrical struggle: Therefore, we are led to a paradoxical split in rebirth: A politically fueled poet cannot suffer from a lyrical death, because it would not be a death at all when his lyricism gave birth to a political agenda.
It would seem as if this cycle of birth and death never concludes, or even more importantly, it never finds any real meaning beyond surface interpretations to fit a specific agenda. Before we can better understand these layers of paradoxes within Mayakovsky, let us consider another poet from around this time whose death has been influenced by this same cycle of creation and destruction in myth through legacy: This begs the question: What was the context of the man and his verses before his death became a catch-all explanation?
This idea of a split existence exemplifies the necessity for another lens to understand the reality beyond what has been constructed. For Mayakovsky, this additional lens that is required to support the meaning of his death is found within his lyrical verses. The Paradox of Mayakovsky in his Verses As we have discussed, the split of Mayakovsky is evident within his outward appearance, personal inner struggle, and the varied interpretations of his death.
I will examine three poems in particular: This analysis will further support a split in the portrayal of Mayakovsky to fit the needs of an individual premise which can vary greatly among representations, including the ideas of cultural myths of poet, of revolution , political myths, the formation of Soviet literature, lovers of lyric poetry, anti-Soviet information, and so on.
In this poem, he writes: He favors hyperbole to emphasize the impact of the imagery in this poem, along with personification: Yet rather than relying on others for this expression, as in the manifesto A Slap In the Face of Public Taste, Mayakovsky is allowed to express his ideas and language through an individual voice that is only further personified and will become a cornerstone in his manner of expression.
This poem, which was written during the American intervention in the Russian Civil War, is full of larger-than-life scenarios. The main character is Ivan, a colossal peasant with ,, heads, an arm as long as the Neva River, and heels as big as the Caspian steppes. He wades across the Atlantic Ocean to fight a hand-to-hand battle with Woodrow Wilson, wearing a top hat as high as the Eiffel Tower.
Mayakovsky flirted with the idea of anonymity by originally publishing this poem anonymously. However, he directly stated in his autobiography: In this poem, Mayakovsky is part of the million people who are collectively organizing. Originally publishing this poem without his last name further supports the relationship that he suggested between himself and anonymity, because others were still able to figure out that only Mayakovsky could have written a poem of that specific nature.
Although he can be singled out by his literary style, he was attempting to further dissolve himself into the collective of Soviet people. He was not trying to become Mayakovsky in these verses, but rather he was trying to speak from a larger point-of-view. Regardless, his individuality continued to shine through the attempted anonymity of lyrical expression. Both of these ideas relate to his lyrical persona as a poet, as well as the constructed myth of a poet, which can be lyrical or revolutionary depending on how it is supported.
Regardless, these premises support the duality of myth in a poet and his legacy. The poem was written in a mannered style and cast in a complicated form; Mayakovsky continued to deny classical heritage as he did in A Slap In the Face of Public Taste while supporting futurism as the only literary trend consonant with the times of the revolution. It is an eclectic document that consists of verses, solicitations of love, off-hand humor, and promises to pay taxes with money hidden in his apartment.
This form was used in favor of the formal вы, reserved for elders as well as strangers as a sign of respect. His language in the note is precise and his are intentions clear; he even adds humor: The deceased terribly dislike this sort of thing Night Wraps the Sky You must have gone to bed.
The Milky Way streams silver through the night. And, as they say, the incident is closed. Now you and I are quits. Why bother then To balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts. Behold what quiet settles on the world. Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars. In hours like these, one rises to address The ages, history, and all creation. The last sentence uses the third person singular explicitly in the English translation to impose an impersonal sense on the reader in these two lines because the Russian translation does not have a direct subject for these actions.
When considering the span of his lifetime, was Mayakovsky ultimately incapable of continuing his life because of his susceptibility to the struggles between myth and reality? Patricia Blake explains this idea in Night Wraps the Sky: They [the Soviet government officials] would have killed him, as they completely disposed of some six hundred other writers Even if he was creating his own idea of reality with myth, there were also elements of his society that were out of his control.
The only method of moving onward became the creation of myth, even if Mayakovsky interpreted this progress as the merit of his own suicide. Legacy is a construction of perception, and arguably, the entire idea of legacy is based upon myth. The duality in multiple myths coexisting can create a paradox, with multiple ideas that do not neatly intersect or completely support each other, from which various interpretations can emerge regarding a singular event, idea or person.