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  Philologica russica et speculativa VII  
Maksim Shapir. Photo by Il'ia Dolgopol'skij. 1998       

Shapir M. I., Universum versus: Iazyk — stix — smysl v russkoj poezii XVIII—XX vekov [= Universum versus: Language — Verse — Meaning in Russian Poetry of the Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries], Edited by A. S. Belousova and V. S. Polilova with S. G. Bolotov and I. A. Pil’shchikov, Moscow: “Iazyki russkoj kul’tury”, 2015, book 2, ÕÕII + 586 p. (Philologica russica et speculativa; T. VII).


The articles in this book are united by a single, overarching theoretical and methodological concept. First and foremost, Shapir proceeds from the idea that material, form and content are autonomous categories which exist in a tight symbiosis; the same is true of the universal, unique and specific; of fact, law and principle; of history, theory and methodology. Hence the title, simultaneously ‘The World of Verse’ and ‘Towards the Universe’. Poetic speech, like any other phenomenon, reflects the general principles which govern our world.

The “protagonist” of Universum Versus is is Russian prosody, which Shapir considers in terms of broader issues of the language and the function of poetry, poetry being one of the global fields of human endeavour. The author introduces a new approach to a fundamental issue of poetic theory: the border between poetry and prose. The extension and intension of almost all poetological concepts hinge to some degree on this issue. The theoretical objective here is to demonstrate that prosody is semantically-loaded and closely linked to other phenomena of artistic form. In terms of literary history, the primary aim is to study the formation and later development of classical Russian prosodic culture from its foundation by Lomonosov to its apogee in Pushkin. Pushkin’s poetic legacy is examined in the context of his predecessors, contemporaries and followers: from Trediakovskij, Lomonosov and Sumarokov to D. A. Prigov, L. Rubinshtejn and T. Kibirov. This narrative takes into account not only the canon of Russian poetry, but also the works of minor and even unknown poets. At the same time, Shapir addresses not only the immanent factors of the evolution of prosody (its nomogenesis, if you will), but also the genetic mechanisms of poetry’s interaction with the “real world”, which seem extraneous and arbitrary from “within” poetry as such.

Verse and genre, verse and theme, verse and narrative, verse and composition, verse and style, verse and author, verse and character, to name just a few of the issues addressed, are discussed a number of times throughout this cycle of articles: at first, in purely theoretical terms; then in terms of the lyric, epic and dramatic poetry of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries; and, finally, from the vantage point of the history of these ideas in Russian philological scholarship.

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About This Publication

M. V. Akimova, I. A. Pil’shchikov
Maksim Shapir: a Sketch of his Portrait

Part III. History (the Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries)

In Search of a Signless Language (Sound and Meaning in the Poetry of Early Khlebnikov)

  1. On “Sound Symbolism” in Early Khlebnikov
    (The Phonic Structure of “Bobeobi Sang the Lips”)
  2. On One of Khlebnikov’s Anagrammatic Poems
    (Toward a Reconstruction of the “Moscow Myth”)

The Symbolic “Trans-Sense” in Theodor Sologub: Between Lie and Fantasy

Pseudo-Biblical Quasi-Anthroponyms in the Avant-Garde Poetic Text

Time and Space in the Poetic Language of Mandel’shtam
(Notes by E. P. Soshkin)

Russian Accentual Verse and Old Church Slavonic Syllabics:
Vladimir Mayakovsky in Roman Jakobson’s Translation

On the Semantics of the “Parodic Ballad Verse”
(Mayakovsky’s “The Sun” in the Shade of Barkov)

The Aesthetics of Negligence in the Poetry of Pasternak
(The Ideology of a Certain Idiolect)

Between Grammar and Poetics
(On a New Approach to Editing the Texts of Daniel Charms)

Dante and Tyorkin “in the Other World”
(The Fate of the Russian Burlesque in the Twentieth Century)

Three Reforms of Russian Poetic Syntax
(Lomonosov — Pushkin — Joseph Brodsky)

On Line Length Limits in Vers Libre
(D. A. Prigov and Others)

Semantic Leitmotifs of the Mock-Heroic Ottava Rima
(Byron — Pushkin — Timur Kibirov)

Part IV. History of Russian Verse Studies

“The Grammar of Poetry” and its Creators
(Grigorij Vinokur and Roman Jakobson’s Theory of “Poetic Language”)

Maksim Kenigsberg and his Phenomenology of Verse

“...Domestic Far-Back Argument...”
(Boris Jarcho vs Jurij Tynianov in their Views on the Nature and Semantics of Verse)

The Problems of the Boundary Between Verse and Prose in the Light of Roman Jakobson’s Linguistic Theory

“The Semantic Halo of a Meter”: the Term and the Concept
(A Historical and Poetological Retrospective)

Gasparov the Theorist of Poetry and Gasparov the Maker of Poetry:
Comments on a Poetological Commentary


Entries for the Encyclopedia of Literary Terms and Concepts

    Standard Language
    Literary (Poetic) Language
    Moscow Linguistic Circle (MLC)

Contra philologiam: The Linguistic and the Ideological in Mikhail Bakhtin and Valentin Voloshinov’s “Marxism and the Philosophy of Language”
(Edited with notes by I. A. Pil’shchikov)

A. S. Belousova, V. S. Polilova
Maksim Shapir’s Unwritten Article în Lev Rubinstein’s “Poems on Library Index Cards”


The Published Works of Maksim Shapir (1986–2015)



Index of Proper Names


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