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Social Sciences and Humanities in the Far East

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Zabiyako A. A.

        Anna Anatolyevna Zabiyako is Doctor of Philology, Professor, Head of the Department of Literature and World Culture at Amur State University.

E-mail: sciencia@yandex.ru


Prose of the Russian Harbin is a unique phenomenon which sheds light upon the specific nature of sociocultural, political and artistic tendencies, characterizing the evolution of the Far East emigration proper. Harbin authors had virtually no literary experience having survived the horrors of the First World and Civil Wars.

Harbin prose dates back to the 1920s, when numerous literary works from the metropolis, Europe and Western emigration engulfed Harbin and the Harbin readers acquired the taste for the belles-lettres genres. These readers were mostly housewives, clerks and students. That made Harbin authors refer both to the Russian prose of the first half of the 20th century and to the European fiction, furthermore incorporating certain propaganda elements. Literary works of different ideological and artistic value, both cheap, gutter novels and those of unquestionable literary merit, were published in "The Rubezh" (Frontier) weekly magazine. The short story "The Ice Demise" (1929) by Arseniy Nesmelov presents one of the best examples of the genre experiment in the Harbin prose. On the one hand, it can boast having parameters typical of the propaganda prose of the 1920-s Soviet Russia (A. Chayanov, V. Kirillov, Ya.M. Okunyov), on the other, it comprises features characteristic of the counter-propaganda emigration prose (P. Krasnov, P. Tutkovsky). It should be noted, though, that Nesmelov's awareness of diverse art systems and genres alongside his inclination for artistic universality shaped an absolutely unique genre construct which incorporated elements of eschatology and dystopia within the metapoetic and feuilleton framework, features of the symbolic text and propaganda, adventure story and a parable. Unfortunately, the magazine format per se and the readership's intellectual level did not contribute to the full perception of the Nesmelov's authorial strategy. The time for the true appreciation of his prose is dawning now. The story "The Ice Demise" has been published in Russia for the first time.

        Key words: Far East emigration, Russian Harbin, genre quests, propaganda, average reader, epos, short story, novella, novel, “Rubezh”, the belles-lettres, eschatology, dystopia, parable, anecdote, allusion.


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