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Perception of V. Pelevin and the study of his work in China

Shi Fuyui

PhD in Philology

Senior Lecturer, Institute of Russian Language, Dalian University of Foreign Languages

116000, China, Liaoning Province, Dalian, Lvshunxi str., 6

sfy1989@foxmail.com
Other publications by this author
 

 
Li Syaoge

ORCID: 0000-0003-3002-6968

PhD in Philology

Senior Lecturer, Department of Russian Language, Inner Mongolia Normal University

010000, China, Inner Mongolia, Hohhot, Zhaowuda str., 81

lixiaoge89@mail.ru
Other publications by this author
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/2409-8698.2023.10.44199

EDN:

YRJNYM

Received:

27-09-2023


Published:

04-10-2023


Abstract: The article is devoted to the consideration of the perception of V. Pelevin and the study of his work in China. The object of the study is the perception of Victor Pelevin's creativity in China. The subject of the study is a review of translations of V. Pelevin's works into Chinese and a presentation of the results of research about him in Chinese literary criticism. The main purpose of the work is to analyze the degree of study of Victor Pelevin's work in China with a brief overview of the main directions of modern research by Chinese critics. In the work, along with general scientific methods of analysis, synthesis, analogy and generalization, the descriptive method and the comparative method were also used. As a result of the conducted research, it was revealed that Chinese literary critics pay close attention to the work of Viktor Pelevin, especially the Chinese elements in his works, and highly appreciate the intellectual value of the writer's works. The results described in this article will contribute to a deeper understanding of V. Pelevin's work by Chinese literary critics, and can also be introduced as scientific material into the educational process at the Faculty of Philology. The scientific novelty of the research lies in the fact that for the first time new scientific achievements of China are involved in the research field Ц the evaluation and study by Chinese researchers of the works of V. Pelevin.


Keywords:

Victor Pelevin, postmodernism, emptiness, Zen Buddhism, Eastern philosophy, Chinese elements, anti-utopia, Chinese criticism, Russian literature, Chinese literary studies

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

Introduction

Russian Russian writer Viktor Pelevin is one of the most influential and popular contemporary Russian writers, a representative of Russian postmodernism, who is the author of the largest number of bestsellers among modern Russian writers. His works have been translated into many languages.

Russian Russian scientists call Pelevin "a dark horse in the Russian literary world", "the Russian Wang Shuo (a modern Chinese writer)" and "the Russian Mo Yan (Mo Yan, the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012)", and his works are considered "literary examples of the post-Soviet period" [1, p. 36]. The attention of the Chinese academic community to Pelevin began in the late 1990s. In 2001, the first translation of V. Pelevin's novel "Generation "P"" into Chinese was published in China (then the book was republished in 2018). In 2004, another Pelevin masterpiece was published in China Ц the novel Chapaev and the Void. Subsequently, "The Yellow Arrow", "The Life of Insects" and "The Helmet of Horror: A Creatiffe about Theseus and the Minotaur" were translated into Chinese. In addition, Chinese scientific journals have consistently published articles devoted to his works "Omon Ra", "DPP (NN)", "Pineapple water for a beautiful lady", "Love for Three Zuckerbrins", "iPhuck 10", etc. (see Table 1).

Table 1. Output data of translations of V. Pelevin's works into Chinese

є

Title

Translator

Output data

1

УФ

("Generation "P""

(Liu Wenfei)

2001

(Beijing: People's Literature Publishing House, 2001.)

2

УФ

("Generation "P""

(Liu Wenfei)

2018

(Beijing: Beijing Publishing House of Literature and Art "October", 2008.)

3

("Yellow Arrow")

(Wang Haitao)

2004

(Hailar: Publishing House of Inner Mongolia Culture, 2004.)

4

("Insect Life")

(Zhou Zhengcang)

2005

(Taipei: Yuanliu Publishing House, 2005.)

5

ЧЧ

("Helmet of Horror: The Creatiffe of Theseus and the Minotaur")

,

(Zhou Zhengcang, Chen Cuye)

2007

(Taipei: Locus Publishing House, 2007.)

Studies of V. Pelevin's creativity in Chinese academic circles

Along with the constant release of translations of V. Pelevin's works into Chinese, the research of the Chinese academic community devoted to his work is developing and deepening. Currently , two monographs have been published in China: "The Game Ј ZenЈ Postmodern Ц a study of V. Pelevin's Postmodern Poetics" (2006) and "Reality and Illusion Ц an Artistic Picture of Victor Pelevin's Postmodern Novels" (2012).

Zheng Yongwang's work "The Game Ј Zen Ј Postmodern Ц a study of V. Pelevin's Postmodern Poetics" (2006) (hereinafter referred to as the "Study") focuses on the work "Chapaev and the Void": the scientist began by analyzing the intertextuality of the text of the novel to prove that it is a postmodern work. Then the researcher found that Pelevin uses narrative games in the text to express his metaphysical view of the illusory world. The individual narrative of the main character, Peter the Void, has the game characteristics of postmodern texts. The fascination with the combination of reality and fantasy is a distinctive feature of Russian postmodern literature [14].

It is worth mentioning that the author of the "Study" suggested that there is to some extent a misinterpretation of Pelevin's understanding of Zen Buddhism. Pelevin uses a clay machine gun as a weapon Ц it was enough to point it at the target, and the object or person disappeared without a trace, as if they did not exist. It turned out that the clay machine gun is the little finger of Buddha Anagama, to which a clay butt is attached. Buddha Anagama did not spend much time explaining to people the nature of things Ц it was enough for him to point the little finger of his left hand, and immediately the thing indicated by him showed its true nature Ц emptiness. The clay machine gun in Pelevin's novel implies the emptiness of things and the illusory nature of the world. This understanding is based on a misinterpretation of "emptiness" in Zen Buddhism, where it means not the emptiness of material things at the everyday level, but the absence of a permanent and imperishable being or essence. At the same time, emptiness refers not only to the outside world, but also to the person himself: it manifests itself in the fact that he is deprived of constancy. However, in the novel, the clay machine gun will indicate the goal and reveal the essence of the object or person Ц the disappearance into nothing. In fact, this is a misunderstanding of the term "emptiness".

It should be said that the "Study" is full of philosophical reflections Ц its author, scientist Zheng Yongwang, is an expert not only in the theory of postmodernism, but also in Buddhist teaching. He deeply analyzed the elements of Zen Buddhism used by Pelevin and logically confirmed the correctness of the definition of the novel as a postmodern literary work [11, p. 107]. The author of the monograph to a certain extent recognizes the idea that "the world is an illusion", "the world is a mirage". The whole book is written in a postmodern spirit. The enthusiasm and personal interest of a scientist who interprets the novel on a metaphysical level make the monograph so vivid and original that it is definitely worth reading.

In the book "Reality and Illusion Ц an artistic picture of Victor Pelevin's postmodern novels" (2012) (hereinafter referred to as the "Picture"), the object of research was such works by V. Pelevin as "Omon Ra", "Insect Life", "Chapaev and Emptiness" and "Generation "P"". The monograph analyzes the real and illusory paintings depicted in the novel. The author believes that Pelevin created a myth about modern Russian literature. It is a cultural symbol of the post-Soviet era. His creations manage to combine Russian history and culture with modern Russian social reality. They not only demonstrate Pelevin's reinterpretation of the history and culture of his homeland, but are also filled with the writer's deep reflections on the present and future of Russia. Pelevin deliberately violates the language taboos established in traditional literary creativity, thereby vividly reproducing the life discourse of people from all walks of life, objectively reflecting the change and development of language in a new era [7].

At the moment, in China, the PhD thesis "The problem of EastЦWest in V. O. Pelevin's prose from the perspective of the semiotics of culture" is devoted to Pelevin's work. Its author, scientist Kun Liin, draws attention to the semiotics of the culture of Yu. M. Lotman, summarizes the characteristics of the semiospheres of Russian, Eastern and Western cultures. The author believes that the EastЦWest problem in Pelevin's prose is transformed into the semiospheres of Eastern and Western cultures. On the basis of Yu. M. Lotman's semiotics of culture, with the help of Western postmodernist theories, as well as theories of Eastern philosophy, the meaning of the collision and exchange between the semiospheres of different cultures is revealed, the search for characters on the border of different cultures is carried out. According to the researcher, Pelevin uses postmodern absurdity and language games to reflect on the problem of humanity, as well as to search for the primary source of life and the further path of development of Russia [5].

The main directions of scientific research in the Chinese academic environment

More and more Chinese scientists are paying attention to the importance of V. Pelevin's work and the artistic value of his works. In addition to the above-mentioned monographs and doctoral dissertations, the number of master's theses and scientific articles in the Chinese academic community devoted to V. Pelevin and his work increases from year to year. Research can be divided into several general areas.

1. V. Pelevin and postmodernism

Zheng Yongwang "Research of postmodern markers of Pelevin's novel Chapaev and Emptiness" Ц the scientist believes that Pelevin's work has postmodern features due to the writer's strategy of "pseudomauvais" and the use of images of real things, such as trains, for metaphorical expression of the illusory world [15, p. 34].

Kun Liin "The study of intertextuality in Victor Pelevin's novel "Generation P"" Ц based on the theory of intertextuality, the author analyzes the intertextual connections between the novel and other texts that are found in such techniques as quoting, hint, parody, collage, etc. The article also defines the meaning and aesthetic functions of intertextuality in the novel [4, p. 65].

Zheng Xiaoting "Viktor Pelevin and Eastern postmodernism" Ц the scientist believes that the modern Russian writer Viktor Pelevin combined "postmodern" with "Easternness". Pelevin's goal is to carry out a unique experiment in the field of postmodern creativity focused on the East. Pelevin's Eastern postmodernism cannot be studied exclusively within the framework of Russian literary criticism and literary criticism, since he made a significant contribution to the rethinking of the Eastern cognitive paradigm. Pelevin's work contributes to the development of literary dialogue between East and West [13, p. 68].

2. Oriental elements in the works of V. Pelevin

Wang Shufu "Oriental illusion in Russian literature: the image of China in V. Pelevin's novels" Ц the scientist notes that in the interpretation of Chinese cultural elements Pelevin does not always accurately convey the original text and its meaning. The writer has a reasonable interpretation, and his own processing, and unintentional erroneous understanding, and deliberate misinterpretation. From the perspective of the West, Pelevin describes an imaginary exotic East. The writer's goal is to use oriental elements to emphasize the advantages of the West over the East and compensate for the shortcomings of the West with the strengths of the East [2, p. 18].

Shi Xixian "The Russian Dream in Nanke about China: Chinese elements in the "USSR Taishou Chuan" Victor Pelevin" Ц the scientist points out that Chinese cultural elements are not only artistic means by which Pelevin reflects the realities of the foreign world, but also one of the most important ways to build his literary empire. Pelevin's short story "USSR Taishou Zhuan" includes: (Chinese idiom, dream of the kingdom of Nanke), (Chinese idiom, ants crawled up and down the banyan tree), (all emptiness) and other elements of Chinese culture. With the help of these elements, the writer builds a unique poetic construction in the novel and expresses his philosophical understanding of the world. Pelevin uses the structure of the Chinese legend of the Tang Dynasty to tell the history of Russia, demonstrating a deep understanding and unique representation of Chinese culture, as well as to a certain extent reflecting the universal values and philosophical implications of elements of Chinese culture [16, p. 58].

Qin Ruizi "On the influence of the southern school of Zen Buddhism on the work of V. Pelevin - on the example of "Chapaev and Emptiness"" Ц the scientist starts from the relationship between the ideas of the southern school of Zen Buddhism and the content of the novel, analyzes the influence of Chinese Zen Buddhism on the picture of the world reflected in the novel, the images of characters and the manner of narration. Pelevin did not abandon the educational role of traditional Russian literature. From the point of view of the Buddhist idealistic worldview, the writer investigated the origin of the world, separated reality from illusion and interpreted the spiritual crisis and mass confusion that people suffered from in the post-Soviet era [9, p. 75].

3. Dystopian ideas in the works of V. Pelevin

Wen Yuxia "The Dystopia Complex in a Postmodern context: the landscape of V. Pelevin's work" Ц the scientist emphasizes that Pelevin through his novels reveals the falsity of utopian ideals and their negative consequences, showing the existential confusion that this pseudo-idealism has brought to Russian society, and the psychological shadow that it casts on modern man. The writer depicts the confusion, fear and anxiety of Russian society under the influence of a strong world culture [3, p. 11].

Jiang Lei "Against the Utopia of Consumerism: a study of Victor Pelevin's novel "Generation P"" Ц the scientist chooses Pelevin's "Generation P" as the object of research. He believes that this book is a prediction, a warning, expresses the anxiety that has arisen among modern Russian intellectuals in connection with the advent of the era of consumption, demonstrating a strong anti-consumerist utopian idea [10, p. 101].

Zhu Tao "Utopia or dystopia? Ц About the stylistic dispute of V. O. Pelevin's novel "SNUFF"" Ц the scientist believes that in this work Pelevin boldly breaks through the methods of representation traditional for utopian and dystopian novels, deliberately erasing the boundaries between them in order to effectively absorb the advantages of the two genres and maximally focus the reader's attention on reality and all kinds of paradoxes behind it and absurdities, so that the work is filled with contradictions between the real and the illusory, good and evil [12, p. 47].

4. Other aspects of V. Pelevin's research

Yan Meiping "Humanistic perspectives of artificial Intelligence in "iPhuck 10"" Ц the scientist uses the work "iPhuck 10" as an analyzed text to explore the writer's reflections on humanistic problems arising in connection with the development of artificial intelligence. He reveals the creative position of the writer through the analysis of the text using research methods of digital humanities: firstly, AI has a postmodern specificity and is a kind of virtual reality; secondly, the development of AI self-awareness can lead to a confrontation between artificial intelligence and the human mind [17, p. 120].

Feng Xue "Spatial writing in V. Pelevin's postmodern novels" Ц the scientist hypothesizes that space is not only a place where events take place, but also a reflection of the inner world of the characters. Space in Pelevin's work is a kind of floating space of consciousness, a metaphor for the wandering fate of modern people who have lost the basis of existence [8, p. 84].

Kun Liin "Border Research: the identity crisis in V. Pelevin's novels" Ц the researcher notes that the identity crisis of a person and even the whole country caused by the problem of choosing a landmark Ц the eastern or western path of development, was fully reflected in the novels of the famous modern Russian postmodernist writer V. Pelevin. In the works of the writer, many characters are caught off guard by large-scale social changes during the transition period, as a result of which they face the questions "Who am I?" "Where am I?" They can't find their place in the world in any way. The characters have typical characteristics of a modern "superfluous man" and "little man" [6, p. 69].

Conclusion

Victor Pelevin is a postmodernist writer who pays considerable attention to Eastern culture. The Oriental elements in V. Pelevin's novels are an artistic assessment and interpretation of Oriental culture from the standpoint of Russian literature and culture, it is a symbolic construction and representation of an imaginary Oriental, in particular Chinese, culture. Pelevin's work has a pronounced national connotation, while he considers Chinese culture as an exotic foreign land from a Western point of view, which is reflected in his judgments and interpretations of Chinese cultural realities, which bear obvious traces of Russian mass culture.

This article provides only a general overview of the perception of V. Pelevin's creativity and the results of the study of his works by Chinese researchers. Many of Pelevin's books have not yet met Chinese readers, since their translation into Chinese is a long and difficult process. V. Pelevin, as an outstanding Russian writer, attracts the attention of Chinese readers and researchers both with his artistic value and with elements of Eastern philosophy and Chinese culture present in his works. His novels are like a prism through which the East opens to the Russian reader, and Russia opens to the Chinese.

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Peer Review

Peer reviewers' evaluations remain confidential and are not disclosed to the public. Only external reviews, authorized for publication by the article's author(s), are made public. Typically, these final reviews are conducted after the manuscript's revision. Adhering to our double-blind review policy, the reviewer's identity is kept confidential.
The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

The work of Viktor Pelevin, a Russian postmodernist writer, attracts the attention of both Russian and foreign researchers. Indeed, the prose of this author is universal, because he uses signs of different cultures and different social ethnicities in his texts. The translation of V.O. Pelevin's novels into foreign languages is difficult, however, it is quite successful to do this in the course of constructive and rather long work. The reviewed work is more descriptive than analytical, but this fact does not reduce its relevance and significance. The author of the article draws attention to the problem of perception of Victor Pelevin's legacy in China. I would like to note that this essay is of a compilation nature, it is somewhat formal, but a similar type of research takes place in the scientific environment. Russian Russian writers, I think that the following fragments are not so critical, for example: "Viktor Olegovich Pelevin is one of the most influential and popular modern Russian writers, a representative of Russian postmodernism, who is the author of the largest number of bestsellers among modern Russian writers. His works have been translated into many languages", or "in the book "Reality and Illusion Ц an artistic picture of postmodern novels by Viktor Pelevin" (2012) (hereinafter referred to as the "Picture"), the object of research was such works by V. Pelevin as "Omon Ra", "Insect Life", "Chapaev and the Void" and "Generation "P"". The monograph analyzes the real and illusory paintings depicted in the novel. The author believes that Pelevin created a myth about modern Russian literature. He is a cultural symbol of the post-Soviet era. His creations manage to combine Russian history and culture with modern Russian social reality. They not only demonstrate Pelevin's reinterpretation of the history and culture of his homeland, but are also filled with the writer's deep reflections on the present and future of Russia," etc. The researcher's main attention is focused on the most significant achievements of Chinese philologists: "along with the constant release of translations of V. Pelevin's works into Chinese, the research of the Chinese academic community devoted to his work is developing and deepening. Currently, two monographs have been published in China: "The Game Х Zen Х Postmodernism Ц a study of V. Pelevin's postmodern poetics" (2006) and "Reality and Illusion Ц an artistic picture of Victor Pelevin's postmodern novels" (2012)."I think that such an unfolding is objective, and the Russian reader will be able to get acquainted with the essence and objectives of these monographs with interest. In my opinion, the style of the article is still focused on the scientific type itself, but sometimes there are so-called errors in the text, violation of the logic of conducting an assessment, language inaccuracies. The formal standard of scientific research has been maintained, it is good that the text is divided into semantic fragments, this allows you to somewhat differentiate the points that are significant to the author. The researcher's position has been fully verified, and no serious violations have been identified at this level. The evaluative parts themselves look convincing: for example, "Zheng Yongwang's Study of Postmodern markers of Pelevin's novel Chapaev and the Void" Ц the scientist believes that Pelevin's work has postmodern features due to the writer's strategy of "pseudomauvais" and the use of images of real things, such as trains, to metaphorically express the illusory world," or "Kun Liin's Study of Intertextuality in Victor Pelevin's novel Generation P" Ц based on the theory of intertextuality, the author analyzes the intertextual connections between the novel and other texts, which are found in such techniques as quoting, allusion, parody, collage, etc. The article also defines the meaning and aesthetic functions of intertextuality in the novel", or "Wang Shufu"Oriental Illusion in Russian Literature: the image of China in V. Pelevin's novels" Ц the scientist notes that in interpreting Chinese cultural elements Pelevin does not always accurately convey the original text and its meaning. The writer has a reasonable interpretation, and his own processing, and unintentional misconception, and deliberate misinterpretation. From the perspective of the West, Pelevin describes an imaginary exotic East. The writer's goal is to use oriental elements to emphasize the advantages of the West over the East and compensate for the disadvantages of the West with the strengths of the East," etc. The work has a completed form, the main goal of the study has been achieved; the set vector of tasks has been solved. The topic of the work corresponds to one of the sections of the magazine. The final block is in tune with the main part. The author notes that "Victor Pelevin is a postmodern writer who pays considerable attention to Eastern culture. The Oriental elements in V. Pelevin's novels are an artistic assessment and interpretation of oriental culture from the standpoint of Russian literature and culture, it is a symbolic construction and representation of an imaginary oriental, in particular Chinese, culture. Pelevin's work has a pronounced national connotation, while he considers Chinese culture as an exotic foreign land from a Western point of view, which is reflected in his judgments and interpretations of Chinese cultural realities, which bear obvious traces of Russian mass culture ...". The list of sources is full, editing of this part is unnecessary. I think that the article "The perception of V. Pelevin and the study of his work in China" can be recommended for publication in the journal "Litera".
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