Mastering the Great Purge Trauma: Mythopoetic Strategies in Contemporary Russian Literature for the Young


Formerly reserved for adult, texts about traumatic events of the past have now entered the domain of children’s literature. Such texts “play the key role in the double-edged process of grieving and prevention” (A. Etkind) and are seen as essential for familiarizing Russian children and adolescents with social history. This article analyzes the ways of representing and mastering traumatic experiences of the past in contemporary literature an focuses on the period of the Great Purge in Russia, using the examples of E. Elchin’s Breaking Stalin’s Nose and Y. Yakovleva’s Raven’s Children. 1938. These narratives rely on the mythopoetic strategies of a parable as an ultimately artificial and supra-historical construction; at the same time, they utilize techniques used by literary non-fiction oriented towards ego-texts and documentary evidence. These strategies use real historical events as a trigger for associative memory in the manner characteristic of the aesthetics of post-memory.

Keywords: historical trauma, fiction of the Great Purge, historical fiction for children and young adult (YA), mythopoetic textual strategy, E.Elchin, Y. Yakovleva

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