"The Wicked Bullet": The Georgian Origins of Osip Mandelstam's Insult to Joseph Stalin

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Abstract

This article reconstructs the literary and ideological genealogy of the “Ossetian myth” of Stalin’s origins in Osip Mandelstam’s poem, “We live without feeling the land beneath our feet…” (1933). It argues that in his verbal fight with Stalin the poet drew from Mikhail Dzhavakhishvili’s allegorical novel Dzhako’s Fugitives, written in the aftermath of the failed Georgian Uprising of 1924 and translated into Russian in 1929. The proposed textual and ideological relationship between Mandelstam’s poem and Dzhako’s Fugitives extends the list of the poem’s sources and suggests that in his attack on the tyrant as a demonized “other,” Mandelstam rhetorically aligned himself not only with the ambivalent tradition of Russian Romantic orientalism but also with the nationalist ressentiment myth of the Georgian intelligentsia.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)181-209
Number of pages29
JournalAb Imperio
Volume2021
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

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