The Divided Self: Yuri Rytkheu and Contemporary Chukchi Literature

  • Adele Barker


A scant twenty-five miles divides the Aleuts and Itelmans on the American side of the Bering Straits from Chukotka, a land that occupies the extreme northeast portion of the Russian Far East. The region stretches from the mouth of the Omolon River in the west down to the Kamchatka peninsula, up to Anadyr’ and Provideniia, and finally north to Cape Dezhneva as it reaches out towards Alaska.


Indigenous People Killer Whale Kamchatka Peninsula Literary Influence Racial Superiority 
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  1. 1.
    For an account of Bogoraz’ s years in exile in Kolyma and the process by which he became an ethnographer of the region see V. Murav’ev’s introduction to Waldemar Bogoraz, Vosem’ piemen: chukotskie rasskazy (Moscow: Gosizdat, 1962), pp. 5–27.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    See A. V. Poshataeva, Literatury narodov severa: Istoki, stanovlenie, razvitie (Moscow: Nauka, 1988), p. 108. See also Rytkheu’s discussion of his initial repudiation of his own folklore traditions in “Syn Nivkhii,” Literaturnoe obozrenie 11 (1975): 28.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    See John Tichotsky, Use and Allocation of Natural Resources in the Chukotka Autonomous District. A Report Prepared for the Alaska Region United States Park Service (March 15, 1991), p. 31f. My thanks to John Tichotsky for sharing with me his encyclopedic knowledge of the Chukchi.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Yuri Rytkheu, Magicheskie chisla (Leningrad: Sovetskii pisatel’, 1986), pp. 16–17.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Waldemar Bogoraz, “Chukchee Mythology,” in Franz Boaz, ed., The Jesup North Pacific Expedition (New York: AMS Press, 1975), vol. 8, pp. 138, 141.Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    For an analogous discussion on ethnic and dominant cultures, see, for example, Michael Castro, Interpreting the Indian: Twentieth-Century Poets and the Native American (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1983). Castro quotes Leslie Marmon Silko, who, for one, questions “the assumption that the white man, through some innate cultural or racial superiority, has the ability to master the essential beliefs, values, emotions of persons from Native American communities” (p. 161).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Galya Diment and Yuri Slezkine 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adele Barker

There are no affiliations available

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