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  Philologica 5 (1998)  
   
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V. V. SPERANTOV

THE POETICS OF STAGE DIRECTIONS
IN RUSSIAN TRAGEDY OF THE EIGHTEENTH AND EARLY NINETEENTH CENTURIES
(On the Typology of Literary Movements)

 
 
 


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Summary

This article is part of a large-scale research project devoted to the question of the relationship between literary movements and the structural features of stage directions in Russian verse tragedies of the period 1747 to 1822. The material for this project is close to being exhaustive: 70 works by 30 playwrights (from Sumarokov and Lomonosov to Pavel Katenin and Iakov Rostovcov). Moreover, five parodies are also considered: four obscene plays (Ebixud, Durnosov i Farnos, Pizdrona, Vasta) and Ivan Krylov’s “mock tragedy” Trumf (or Podshchipa). A study of indecent farce-tragedies can contribute to the study of stage directions in serious theatre: parody usually preserved the most distinctive marks of genre and style.

The tragedies are compared against five parameters which, one way or another, typify the use of stage directions: 1) their density; 2) their average length; 3) the frequency of their appearance within the poetic line; 4) lexical diversity; 5) the proportion of characterizing directions. The results of the investigation reveal that four parameters of the five (lexical diversity is the exception) are more or less closely linked. The tragedies which consistently follow classical norms display the lowest figures; conversely, the maximum number is found in works in which these norms are disregarded. The method of measuring the degree of “classicism” which is suggested in this article enabled us to divide the works into four more or less “organic” groups. The playwrights of the first group can conventionally be called “strict classics”; those belonging to the second one can be called “non-strict classic”; the third can be labelled “sentimentalists”, and the fourth can be considered “pre-romanticists”. In the article the peculiarities of stage direction sin the plays of each group are described and some laws of evolution of Russian tragedy in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are established.

 


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