University of Sussex
Carrick, Rosy Patience.pdf (2.74 MB)

Vladimir Mayakovsky: the language of revolution

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posted on 2023-06-09, 05:20 authored by Rosy Patience Carrick
My thesis addresses two significant misrepresentations in western criticism and translation of Mayakovsky that have developed since his death in 1930: his diminished status as a Marxist poet; and his negative attitude towards everyday life (byt). Part One (‘Mayakovsky and Marxism’) contests the consistent refusal in the west to acknowledge Mayakovsky as a Marxist poet and demonstrates instead, through a close examination of the specific terminology used in certain essays and poems by Mayakovsky in relation to that used by Karl Marx in Capital, not only that the poet is keenly engaged with and influenced by Marxist theory, but that he uses that theory explicitly to describe and imagine the production of ideal communist writing. Part Two (‘Mayakovsky and Byt’) contests the widespread western characterisation of Mayakovsky as a misogynist whose hatred of domesticity in all its forms has long been accepted as fact. At the heart of this characterisation is the Russian concept of byt (everyday life), which has been systematically misunderstood and mistranslated in relation to Mayakovsky. Through a study of the complex cultural, political and social developments of this concept in early Soviet Russia, alongside the collation of my own translations of twenty-nine never-before-translated poems by Mayakovsky on the subject of byt, this part of the thesis presents a radical and feminist perspective of the poet as a vocal proponent of equality and revolution in everyday life. Both contestations represent the first sustained studies of their kind in English, and – in the case of Part Two in particular, which is the first of its kind in any language – constitute significant and challenging contributions to Mayakovsky scholarship.


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