This second installment in a chronologically arranged, three-part sequence continues the author's examination of Anglo-American literati who, in the later nineteenth and twentieth centuries, turned — in acts of combined xenophilia and xenophobia — to Russian literature and literary theory in order to escape the dominant influence of avant-garde movements in France. These Anglophone writers found in Russian exemplars a responsible, morally rigorous, and pragmatic, yet philosophically sophisticated, alternative to what they described as the amoral, superficial, and pretentious aestheticism of French literary culture. Part 2 treats the poetry and criticism of the English “Movement” poet Donald Davie in light of his turn, in 1958, toward the example of Boris Pasternak as a way of escaping the influence of French Symbolist poetics and the post-Symbolist poetics of anglophone modernism. Although Davie understood that Pasternak was as much a modernist as T. S. Eliot or Ezra Pound, he also argued that the Russian's poetry, unlike theirs, sought, on explicitly moral grounds, to maintain conventional syntax and purity of diction, with the result that Pasternak's verse communicates with the reader more as prose than as music does.
Noa Halevy; ENGLISH EMERGENCIES AND RUSSIAN RESCUES, c. 1875 – 2000: Part 2: Pasternak and Donald Davie. Common Knowledge 1 September 2017; 23 (3): 404–439. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-3988198
Download citation file: