Tynianov’s Smert’ Vazir-Mukhtara

  • Don Piper


In his book, Iurii Tynianov, published in Moscow in 1965, Belinkov stressed the relevance of Tynianov’s work to events in the Soviet Union, and defined the theme of Smert’ Vazir-Mukhtara (‘The Death of an Ambassador’, 1927) as follows:

Griboedov’s betrayal of and his loyalty to the Decembrist cause, the intelligentsia and the revolution, an intelligentsia and a revolution which had not justified the hopes placed in it. After a revolution, its ideology is sustained by the force of inertia. But soon afterwards there begins a revision both of the revolution and of the ideas behind it.1

An analogy between the Russian Revolution and the Decembrist uprising may seem farfetched, but Tynianov himself invites the comparison:

Time always ferments in the blood, every period of time has its own kind of fermentation.

In the twenties it was the fermentation of wine — Pushkin.

Griboedov was a vinegary fermentation.

And later, in Lermontov, in his writing and in his blood, there is the fermentation of rotten matter …

The smell of the subtlest perfumes originates in decomposition, in excrement … and in the subtlest fragrance is closest to the stench of refuse.


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    A. Belinkov, Iurii Tynianov (Moscow, 1965), p. 176.Google Scholar
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    Iurii Tynianov, Smert’ Vazir Mukhtara (Moscow, 1935), p. 9. All page references in the text are to this edition.Google Scholar
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© School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London 1990

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  • Don Piper

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