The influence on Mandelstam by Goethe: “The Octaves” as “The Poems on the Cognition”

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The article considers “The Octaves” by O.E. Mandelstam as the unique complex of genre and theme connected not only with the literary but also with the philosophical influence of J.W. Goethe on the Mandelstam’s poetry. It is proved that Mandelstam enters the consensual dialogue with Goethe because at the time of creating the studied cycle of poems, at the beginning of 1930s, Mandelstam’s interest in scientific theories, especially in biology and history reached its pinnacle. Mandelstam’s “The Octaves”, “Lamarck” are compared with scientific works of J.W. Goethe as well as with his sciencerelated poetry, in particular with “Metamorphosis of Plants”. Imaginative homology of both poets, convergence of their plots and trope functions are demonstrated. All this undoubtedly proves that Mandelshtam was affected by Goethe’s beliefs reflected in his ideology and ideopoetic. It is shown how the feeling of spiritual connection with Goethe which Mandelstam had, especially after his journey to Armenia (and acquaintance with biologist B. Kuzin) is converted into aesthetic world view and poetic principles. It brightly manifests itself in lyrical ontology of such “The Octaves” like: “Both Schubert on the waters and Mozart in birds’ chirping...”, “When having destroyed a draft...”, “Oh, Moslem-butterfly...”, “And the jagged bough of a maple-tree...”.

About the authors

Sergey A. Kornienko

Institute of International Law and Economy of A.S. Griboedov

Author for correspondence.

postgraduate student of Journalism History and Literature Department, Institute of International Law and Economy of A.S. Griboedov

21 Enthusiastov Highway, Moscow, 111024, Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2019 Kornienko S.A.

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