Chapter

The Promise of Irreconcilable Difference

Tamara Levitz

in Modernist Mysteries: Perséphone

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199730162
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932467 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730162.003.0008
The Promise of Irreconcilable Difference

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Chapter 8 examines Persephone’s rebirth and return to the underworld with the goal of understanding what its emancipatory promise and historicity—or relationship to the past, present, and future—tells us about the politics of modernist neoclassicism. Gide introduces the cardboard figure of Triptolemus as a symbol of renewal he associates with the Soviet Union, and with Orpheus’s “backward glance” and the anxious politics of his pédérastie. Rubinstein, Copeau, and Stravinsky, in contrast, think of Persephone’s rebirth in terms of the resurrection of Christ. Stravinsky interprets resurrection from Suvchinsky’s Eurasianist perspective as related to the notion of cyclical history, and to the political idea of Russia resurrecting as a theocracy after the Bolshevik revolution. In his music he realizes the temporal idea of the simultaneity of past, present, and future by composing music that functions as a “vitalist” sculpture, and that can be compared to Aby Warburg’s notion of the Pathosformel. The chapter ends with reflections on how Perséphone failed on the night of its premiere, and the heterogeneity of interpretations it elicited.

Keywords: Igor Stravinsky; Philosophy of Time and History; resurrection; Aby Warburg; Pathosformel; cyclic history; simultaneity of time; Pyotr Suvchinsky; Pyotr; Persephone; reception History; Orpheus Backward Glance; vitalism, Eurasianism

Chapter.  22348 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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