Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Recognition through reinvention: the myth of China in the spiritual quest of russian poets of the silver age

Hui Andy Zhang


The works of Russian Silver Age poets Nikolai Gumilev and Velimir Khlebnikov display an array of Chinese motifs. These motifs dissolve into the poets’ individual creation of myths, indicating their different focuses on the cultural map of China, which correspond to their respective poetic conceptions. Despite their difference in poetics, both Gumilev and Khlebnikov embraced the idea of syncretism and restoration, which encouraged them to resort to China as a mirror that reflects the historical identity of Russia, and motivated their development of China as a trope in Silver Age poetry. Ultimately, their Chinese motifs reflect a common spiritual quest—a quest for reframing Russia’s self-identity both as a response to the trend of modernization and as a dialogue with the established European aesthetic rubrics in Russian culture.

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