Bachelor of Arts
School or Department
Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures
Faculty Mentor Department
Modern and Classical Languages
Tokareva, Ulitskaya, idolatry, destruction, angel
Modern Languages | Russian Literature
In his essays on Greek deities, Ralph Waldo Emerson declared: “Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool.” While the idea of gods taking a corporeal form or angels walking among humans is a common literary trope, seldom do mortal characters find themselves compared to the divine without negative repercussions. Select post-Soviet women writers, however, flip this trope to explore the opposite. They instead embrace the human as holy, restrained by little consequence, as a means to highlight its destructive qualities in the context of an intimate relationship. These contemporary authors, Viktoria Tokareva and Lyudmila Ulitskaya, incorporate human divinity as a major thematic aspect in two of their short stories. By attributing divinity to their male partners, the characters of Tokareva and Ulitskaya demonstrate the danger in holding one’s partner to unrealistic standards.
Using Mary Ann Stenger’s critical theory on idolatry of the sexes as a point of departure, I will first examine the presence of idolatry in relationships, in addition to its similarities to objectification. Additionally, through research on each author’s background, I will establish a connection between post-Soviet women writers and themes of isolation and relationship conflict that often feature in their works. Ultimately, by introducing idolatry as a means of conflict, Tokareva and Ulitskaya provide commentary on the consequences of objectification in relationships. In Tokareva, idolatry robs a couple of the chance to be happy together, and in Ulitskaya, idolatry becomes a tool of abuse. This drives the male into isolation, alienating him entirely from society and preventing him from leading a fulfilling life.
Honors College Research Project
GLI Capstone Project
Bentz, Courtney E., "On Angels’ Wings: Idolatry in Viktoria Tokareva’s “Five Figures on a Pedestal” and Lyudmila Ulitskaya’s “Angel”" (2020). Undergraduate Theses, Professional Papers, and Capstone Artifacts. 302.
© Copyright 2020 Courtney E. Bentz