In Gogol’s Overcoat, the reader is overcome with a great sense of pity for Akaky. He’s a sad man – not just because of his relative linguistic incompetency or his inability to perform tasks that extend beyond a simple copy job but because all of his peers see him as utterly beneath them. He is unfit of any type of respect. They can torment him without any sort of recognition for the important tasks he can complete without fail. Much of this ridicule comes from his “night gown.”
Here the “night gown” is a reflection of the role of social status in the Russian Society. His coat reflects his rank and stance in society. He lives in the dank part of St. Petersburg and occupies a lower rank than his peers who sport lavish coats with beaver fur collars. Gogol shows that performance and capability matters little. Prestige is really just superficial. Akaky’s stance and acceptance by his peers fluctuates with his appearance. When he finally obtains his new coat his coworkers notice him but this is only temporary.
Gogol is absolutely critiquing the manner in which power and respect is garnered in Russian Society. I guess one of my questions pertains to the significance of Akaky’s ghost and how he haunts the city. Is this a foreshadowing of how the lower gentry or bureaucracy will eventually rise up and take “revenge” on the self absorbed and entitled upper class? If yes, how would such literature be perceived by those Russians who could read and appreciate Gogol’s work?
We, a dystopian novel written by Yevgeny Zamyatin in the 1920s, explores the trials and tribulations of a cipher, named D-503. D-503 tells the story through journal entries (known as ‘records’), which he intends to have sent up on the Integral, a spaceship being built and scheduled to launch in the near future.
Schedules appear to dominate the ciphers: they are assigned times to walk, have sex, appear in auditoriums. It seems that nothing is done without the instruction of a higher power. D-503 is engaged in a sexual relationship with 0-90, a female cipher.
At the beginning of the novel, O-90 appears to follow every rule required of her by the One State. She engages in sexual activity only when permitted and presents herself as a law abiding citizen. As the story unfolds, however, it becomes evident that O-90 struggles to squash her maternal extinct. After becoming pregnant, O-90 must come to terms with the idea that her baby must be given to the State to be raised once it’s born.
It seems strange that the One State would tear mother and child apart, or even that a mother would feel fully conscionable in giving up her newborn. O-90, herself, struggles with this reality, ultimately deciding to flee the One State and live beyond the Green Wall.
O-90, however, is just one woman with one baby. How did the One State convince women to give up their children? Was the indoctrination so deep that these women believed it to be acceptable? Did they perhaps just see it as the only option in a world so completely transparent?
The two writings of “Interpreting Mongol Yoke: Ideology of Science” and “The Mongols and Cultural Change” display differing versions of Mongol and Rus’ interactions. While the latter perceives the Mongol rule as entirely destructive with little to no cultural achievements made for Rus’ during this time, the former believes that this idea is a narrow- minded way of viewing Mongol influence. Although there was a severely recognizable amount of destruction upon Rus’, there were also achievements in societal structures. For incidence, while one writing claims that the literature of the land was inhibited and ruined (with writings being destroyed and writing characters altering). Conversely, the opposite view is that the Mongol presence in the region created an influence in Rus’ culture that allowed them to embrace parts of other cultures in the area (instead of seeing the literature of Rus’ being destroyed, it was viewed as being altered through Arabic influence).
The “Futurist Manifesto,” written by F. T. Marinetti, and the “Surrealist Manifesto” written by Andre Brenton, are both interesting writings that contain radical ideas for the early 20th century. The Futuristic Manifesto focuses more on the rejection of the past, or in other words Futurism. It promotes sexism, war, and destruction of museums. The Surrealist manifesto focuses on revolution slightly more than the Futurist Manifesto does, but in a less violent way. It is written that they are “determined” on creating a revolution, yet refrains from mentioning violence in wars.
Two things about the Futurist Manifesto really intrigued me. Out of curiosity and to better understand the history surrounding this manifesto, I looked up the date it was published. I found out it was published at 1904, which I found interesting in regards to the manifesto’s discussion about violence and revolution. This manifesto was written before the Russian revolution and World War I, and at this point in time the world had not truly experienced the kind of war and revolution this writing was describing. This made me think, did this manifesto have any influence on the Russian Revolution? And second, why would Marinetti want to glorify war in the first place?
The main thing about the Surrealism manifesto that fascinated me was Article 2. Here it is written that Surrealism is not a means of expression but a freeing of the mind. Previous to reading this manifesto, I had always thought of Surrealism in the sense that it was an art style. To me, art has always been a way of expressing ones’ self, while concurrently freeing ones’ mind. I took my original view of Surrealism and applied it to the reading. I still think that one is expressing themselves while also freeing their minds, because free thoughts lead to great ideas. So to me, Article 2 was slightly contradictory. However, I could just be interpreting Breton’s ideas incorrectly.
Overall, I found both these manifestos very interesting in the ways they express their desire and capability of revolution.