The “death/ birth” mythologeme in E. Vodolazkin’s novel “Laurus”

Abstract: 

The article studies the “death / birth” mythologeme and the specific features of its actualization in the novel “Laurus” by E. Vodolazkin, a Russian writer, scholar and expert in ancient Russian literature. We have addressed this topic as the issue of time is closely related to one’s comprehension of death, which makes it the main topic in modern culture. The research task is to determine the essence of the writer’s thoughts. He refers to the materials of the Russian Middle Ages, which deal with death in terms of correlation of time and eternity, corporality and spirituality, general and personal issues. The study of the “Laurus” enables us to argue that the “death/birth” mythologeme is realized at several levels: the structural organization of the novel, the system of its characters and in the reference to the motifs of ancient and Evangelical myths about death and the resurrection of God. Our research has shown that the principles of cyclicity and the circle dominate the structural organization of the novel. Another side to the actualization of the “death/birth” mythologeme is the emphasis on the lack of clear boundaries between the world of the living and the dead. It is manifested in focusing on the bodily expression of death and resurrection typical of the medieval world. Healing, as the protagonist’s lifework, aiming to cure body, ultimately becomes a means for the salvation of soul. The research results demonstrate that the “death/birth” mythologeme is essential for the structure and meaning of the novel. Its function is to designate the author's thoughts, concerning the categories of time, history, and the meaning of things. The protagonist goes from the hypostasis of a cyclic change of death/birth, designating the flow of time, to the hypostasis associated with the possibility of overcoming time. This overcoming is connected with one’s move to God as an ultimate shift away from death to eternal life.

Key words: 

E. Vodolazkin, mythology, death, birth, resurrection, Old Russian literature, Russian Middle Ages.

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