Petrushevskaya is at present one of the most controversial authors on the Soviet literary scene. Her dramas provoke the most extreme and opposite reactions, because she ignores existing artistic canons while broaching new subjects and issues. The unmitigated harshness with which she evokes the blatantly ugly and utterly bleak jolts the reader from complacency. Life’s trivial yet most debilitating tragedies, which are the substance of her work, produce shudders of recognition and disbelief. Neither causes nor solutions are offered. Her purpose is to shock people into a catharsis. She wants to make them think for themselves and search for alternatives. Her portrayal of the morally ugly veils her deep longing for the realization of an ideal. She writes ‘in order to liberate [herself] from grief,’ she said in an interview. ‘Perhaps there is a grain of salvation in what I have written. … Why do people tell things to each other? In order to get rid of a burden. In order to maintain the notion of an ideal, something worth striving for, a sense of how it should be’ (Literaturnaya gazeta, 23 Nov 1983).
KeywordsDust Settling Defend Lost Heroine
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Works and Secondary Literature in English
- Plays and short stories are available from Theater Research Associates, Apt 733, 1111 Arlington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209.Google Scholar
- Alma Law has translated Four by Lyudmila Petrushevskaya (New York: Institute for Contemporary East European Drama and Theater of the Center for Advanced Study in Theater Arts, 1984).Google Scholar
- Four of her plays have been performed in the United States.Google Scholar
- Nancy Condee’s ‘Liudmila Petrushevskaia: How the “Lost People” Live’, published as a newsletter to the Institute of Current World Affairs (1986) (NPC-14), pp. 1–12 is the first assessment of her work as a dramatist.Google Scholar