Russian Modernism: The Transfiguration of the Everyday by Stephen C. Hutchings (University of Surrey)
This book explores the unique way in which Russian culture constructs the notion of everyday life, or byt, and offers the first unified reading of Silver-age narrative which it repositions at the centre of Russian modernism. Drawing on semiotics and theology, Stephen C. Hutchings argues that byt emerged from a dialogue between two traditions, one reflected in western representational aesthetics for which daily existence figures as neutral and normative, the other encapsulated in the Orthodox emphasis on iconic embodiment. Hutchings identifies early 'Decadent' formulations of byt as a milestone after which writers from Chekhov to Rozanov sought to affirm the iconic potential hidden in Russian realism's critique of representationalism. Provocative, yet careful, textual analyses reveal a consistent urge to redefine art's function as one not of representing life, but of transfiguring the everyday.