Andrew, J (2022) ‘By creating plot texts, man learnt to distinguish plots in life and thus to make sense of life’: a discussion of narratology in the work of Juri Lotman. Neohelicon, 49 (2). 627 - 644. ISSN 0324-4652

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The overall aims of this article are to revisit one of the key contributions to narratology of the late twentieth century, Juri Lotman's The origin of plot in the light of typology of 1973, to attempt to determine its place in Lotman's work as a whole, its relationship with the work of other theorists, as well as to suggest its value, and its applicability to literature and other manifestations of human culture. Of course, Lotman was not the first to suggest that narrative structure and plots have some claims to universality. Moreover, in the twentieth-first century story, plot and narrative-and the terms are more or less interchangeable in general usage-have become almost ubiquitous, being applied to politics, sport, history as well as cultural objects as such. In this seepage of cultural theory into popular culture, and, in fact, into everyday day parlance, Lotman's article plays a pivotal role, and has become a modern classic of literary theory. Origins itself covers a wide area and ranges from prehistory to contemporary times. In this overview he offers myriad examples from Ancient Greece, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky and many more besides. In some ways, it is important to see this piece of 1973 as an extension of his own Struktura khudozhestvennaia teksta of three years previously. In this, one of his more rigorously structuralist works, Lotman sees semiotic space organised in binary terms along the positive / negative axis of verkh / niz. But in Origin, Lotman establishes a very powerful, infinitely replicable typology, encapsulated in the simple chain: "entry into enclosed space-exit from it." Important refinements have been made to this model by Teresa de Lauretis in her seminal article "Desire in narrative," where in her feminist re-reading of Lotman she does not in any way undermine the validity of Lotman's model, but greatly enhances it. This model, especially as refined by de Lauretis, has immense applicability. For example, Turgenev's four major novels, with their heroes entering the enclosed space of the 'enclave', only to fail the 'test of love', readily spring to mind, as do most of the stories comprising Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time, as well as Pushkin's Evgenii Onegin. After offering an overview of such instances, this article will give about half a dozen 'case studies' to provide more in-depth assessments of the applicability of Lotman's theories. The texts to be analysed as case studies are Turgenev's Asya, Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground and Brothers Karamazov; Tolstoy's Father Sergius, and the films Kommissar by Askoldov, and Bodrov's Prisoner of the Caucasus.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Keywords: Juri Lotman; Narrative; Feminism; Russian literature; Cinema
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2023 12:48
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2023 09:47

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