Exhumed from asterisks : from commomplace Russian tyrannies to the dark spaces of Bulgakov’s Heart of a dog



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Few spaces have been as tyrannically predetermined as St. Petersburg and Soviet Moscow. This paper aims to present a theoretical narrative delineating the tyranny of space through both Russian capitols by examining both Peter the Great’s and Lenin’s predetermined construction of Russian spaces. First will be an examination of the manner in which Peter the Great undercut authentic Russian tradition by replacing historical with European spatial consciousness. In the second chapter, a few case studies from the history of Russian letters will be provided so as to best demonstrate the continuing anxiety of spatial representation plaguing Russian writers through the nineteenth century. Chapter three concerns Lenin’s spatial despotism. In contrast to Peter the Great, who opened Russia (and Russian consciousness) to the West, Lenin will compress space by reclaiming Russia’s capital of old, Moscow. This compression of space is best embodied in the kitsch, micromanagement, and tyranny of the Soviet communal apartment. Finally, the goal is to show the shift from the highly cerebral production of the place that is St. Petersburg to the unconscious social cues that constituted the mapping, reading, and minute control of Soviet spaces as evidenced in the works of Mikhail Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog. By defamiliarizing common spaces, Bulgakov points to Russia’s inability to reconcile space with its national identity.