საბჭოთა იდენტობის პოლიტიკა და საბავშვო მხატვრული ლიტერატურა (ლ. ლაგინის „მოხუცი ხოტაბიჩის“ მაგალითზე)

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Date
2019
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უნივერსალი
Abstract
Research of identity politics is an important topic. Meaning of a such research increases when identity politics is controlled by specific ideologies. Identity politics of Soviet Union was aimed on forming and shaping of a new type of person – Homo Sovieticus. The most important group for manipulations were children. Literature was one of the ways of such influence, therefore, the information given to a child was carefully controlled and defined by ideology. Studying the children’s books of Soviet period may give us a valuable information about the methods and topics of influence used for forming and shaping the Soviet Identity. Comparing the different editions of the same book gives us the most interesting information. In this paper we are comparing two editions of the L. Lagin’s “Old man Khottabych”. The goal of the research is to underline differences between the original (1938) and the edited version (1955) of the book, to highlight the topics and the methods of influence. We used narrative analysis as a method of research and structuralism as a framework. The importance of the study is defined by the essence of identity politics – forming and shaping identity is a crucial part of any society. As a result of the research we can define two major groups of differences – characters (types of pioneers; Soviet civilians; image of enemy) and plot (life in Soviet Union; attitude towards past and religion; international relationships). In this article we discuss only first group of differences – differences about characters. The first principal contradiction between the first and edited versions of the book is diverse types of pioneers. Before editing (1938) of the book, the main character – Volka (Vladimir) Kostilkov is an ordinary, naughty boy. After editing (1955) Volka’s character is no more childlike. He turns into serious Soviet boy, whose judgement solely depends on Soviet ideology. If in 1938 Volka’s character is ready to cheat on exam, in 1955 he delivers a speech about soviet pioneers, who never cheat on exams. Furth more, they are systematically fighting against it. In the edited version of the book even dreams and fantasies are changed – they became ideologically appropriate. For example: in the original Volka is imagining adventures in prairies and Indians and battles. Contrary to it, in the edited version Volka is dreaming about building a “giant of Soviet industry” in Siberia, resisting terrible cold and hard conditions. Differences of this kind remind us of G.H. Hofstedes term “Heroes” – models for behavior, who have characteristics valued in certain culture. (Hofstede. 2011, p.16) Thus, Volka might be considered as a “hero”, role model for soviet children, showing what real pioneer must be. To make “pioneer Volka” as a role model more explicit, there is a new character – Goga in the edited version of the book. Goga is a classmate and a rival of Volka, possessing traits, which are considered as negative for pioneer. We suggest that in 1955 by making such stereotyped (good/bad) contrast editors were creating “heroes” and a role model for soviet children and pupils, something that was not a goal for the author of an original story (at least not in such explicit way). Second major difference between original (1938) and edited (1955) versions of the book involves disappeared and transformed characters. The original story contains two important characters – Seriozha (Volkas friend) and Alexandr Nikitich Kruzhkin (father of Seriozha). Both characters disappear after editing. One of the reasons of such change might be inappropriate actions of Alexandr Nikitich. It starts when old man Khottabych turns some people into a rare breed of sheep. Turning soviet citizens into sheep is already enough to get censored, but as the story continues, it becomes more unsuitable for Soviet reality: Alexandr Nikitich, who happens to be a scientist and work in the Institute of sheep farming, lies to a policeman and claims that these sheep belong to the institute. Then he takes sheep to the institute, to “discover” this rare breed and become famous scientist. Obviously, actions of Alexandr Nikitich and his desire of “quick success” instead of hard work are inappropriate and belittle the name of Soviet scientist. However, as the story evolves, Alexandr Nikitich appears to be typical Soviet citizen. He turns into contradictive character, being “good” and “bad” at the same time. This might be the reason of his disappearance. The “uncertain” character Alexandr Nikitich Kruzhkin and as a result his son – Seriozha, both vanished from the story. Though disappearing was not the only way of changing characters, one more important character was edited - transformed from one into another: Feoktist Kuzmich Khapugin - Harry Wandendulles. Despite all the differences, it is still utterly surprising to have character like Khapugin even in the original story: before revolution Khapugin was a businessman, who had four stores. After revolution he lost his stores, but continued using hired workers, until joining the labor union. Khapugin misses (!) his life before revolution and does not like (!) new, Soviet way of living. Obviously, editors could not leave such a negative model of a Soviet citizen. However, Khapugin as a character did not just disappear, his negative features were ideal as a basis for an “image of enemy”. Thus, he was transformed into American businessman Harry Wandendulles. Wandendulles is utterly stereotypical villain, whose interests in life are money and power. He wants to possess every factory, forest, airplane etc. in Soviet Union, furthermore, he wants to possess Soviet Union itself and whole world. There is an opinion, that Wandendulles has two prototypes – J.F. Dulles (United States Secretary of State 1953 -1959) and A. Dulles (Director of Central Intelligence 1953-1961). Considering that fact speech of Wandendulles about possessing the world gets another, hidden meaning. To conclude, 1955’s edited version shows several specific methods of manipulation and influence, as well as certain topics. Comparing to 1938’s original story, edited version is far more ideologically “appropriate”, more detailed about soviet life and values. We believe, that the paper reached its goals - highlighted the topics and the methods of influence and underlined differences between the 1938’s and 1955’s versions of the book. Therefore, we hope, that the importance of studying children’s literature as a source of Soviet identity politics and manipulations, becomes more evident.
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Keywords
identity politics, Children’s Literature, Lagin
Citation
III International Symposium for Young Scholars in the Humanities (Symposium proceedings)
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