Boris Lapin: Unlikely modernist

Cynthia A. Ruder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-218
Number of pages12
JournalRussian Literature
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 15 1993

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies Conference, Miami, 22-25 November 1991. Research for this article was supported in part by a grant from the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), with funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the U.S. Department of State. None of these organizations is responsible for the views expressed. Research was also supported by the American Council of Teachers of Russian through a Senior Scholar Research grant, Summer 1991. A more complete discussion of the biography of Boris MatveeviC Lapin is found in an article in progress entitled ‘Reconstructing a Biography: The Life and Work of Boris M. Lapin’. While Lapin and GabriloviC cite Johannes Becher as one of their “uncles” there is no clear evidence that Becher’s pre-Socialist Realist, Expressionist works directly influenced their own poetry. Granted, the authors infrequently quote Becher in the epigraphs to some of their poems, but no direct significance can be traced. This is in spite of Becher’s close ties to the Communist Party, especially in the Soviet Union, and his strong support of the Communist ideal. Given the allusions Lapin makes in this early poetry to various literary in-tluences, it is clear that he understood not only what ‘Expressionism’ meant in terms of Russian poetry, but in terms of Western European poetry as well. This does not mean that Lapin always successfully employed the Expressionist mode in his poetry, although as Markov points out, Lapin was a moderately successful poet. And if one acknowledges that the Expressionists frequently revised the very principles of composition of a particular work, including the principle of harmony (as the Kratkaja liferaturnaja &x5klope-d@a suggests) then Lapin clearly understood and manipulated the tenets of Expressionism to produce his early art. For a more complete discussion of Russian Expressionism and its adherents, see Markov 1971: 145-160. Clearly the use of collage was not Lapin’s innovation. In fact, the method of collage was used by many writers in the 192Os, not the least of whom was Isaak Babel’ in Konarmija. That this practice was so prevalent attests to its flexibility and adaptability to a variety of artistic approaches. Moreover, as Nils Ake Nilsson suggests in his study on Russian Imaginism, collage, which he terms “montage”, was a narrative and visual approach found not only in the poems of SerSeneviZ, but in EjzenStejn’s films as well. For a more complete discussion of ‘montage’ as it pertains both to the Russian Imaginists and to Ejzenstejn see Nilsson 1970: 66-73. This information was supplied by Lapin’s widow, Irina Il’iniEna Erenburg, during a personal interview, July 1991. Erenburg recalls watching Lapin and his collaborator work together to create this collection.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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