M. L. GASPAROV
CONCERNING THE CRITERION OF VERSE
ACCORDING TO BORIS IARXO
(A Note to M. V. Akimova’s Article)
Boris Iarxo never gave reasons for his basic position: that the difference between verse and prose does not lie in the outer segmentation, but the inner rhythmicality, and the threshold of this rhythmicality is 50%. In the meantime, a psychological basis for this opinion is easy to explain. Iarxo, a classicist and mediaevalist by training, started from the premise that the material for the student of literature is, first and foremost, the records of dead languages and alien cultures. In respect of these records neither an intuitive awareness of the difference between verse and prose is possible, nor can a division into lines help, for manuscripts and inscriptions are not, as a rule, split into lines: neither Pindar’s odes, nor biblical psalms were recorded as separate lines. The availability of a text, which is already divided into lines, and an uninterrupted cultural tradition, on which intuition could base itself, is a nice exception, rather than the rule, and cannot serve as the basis for a methodology.