Prokofiev and Mimesis

Simon Morrison

in Russian Opera and the Symbolist Movement

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780520229433
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520927261 | DOI:
Prokofiev and Mimesis

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Both Russian and French Symbolism endorsed an ungraspable realm beyond material reality, a realm that gives us only fragmentary clues to its fiery existence. Poets like Vyacheslav Ivanov and Andrey Belïy believed that the imagination allows us to perceive vertical connections between events in our world and events in the other world. Platonic and Aristotlean theories were rejected by this school as mimesis or the imitation of real life events. Their literature reflected a gross overlapping of fiction and reality. A contrast to this thematic orientation was provided by Sergey Prokofiev whose seminal but unstaged work (often also deemed a debacle), The Fiery Angel, fraught with pseudo mystical meanings, bore witness to the falseness of Symbolist ideals. The opera's end, moreover, depicts no spiritual emancipation but rather oblivion, the annulment of theurgic striving. The background of this parody of Symbolist poetics is examined in this chapter.

Keywords: other world; Aristotle; mimesis; The Fiery Angel; spiritual emancipation; parody

Chapter.  24164 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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