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Intermedial contexts of the coat of arms motif in lyrical poetry by Viktor Krivulin


Although the heraldry theme does not belong to the main poetry themes of Viktor Krivulin, it is indicative of his poetic reflections on the relationship between self-comprehension of the Russian authorities, the dynamics of Russian art development and the fate of a private person. V. Krivulin’s poems are adjacent to the poet’s numerous ekphrases in which the coat of arms acts as a lyrical motif and the marginality of the theme in his lyrical world proves some of the mechanisms of this type of ekphrasis. The coat of arms acts simultaneously as a representation of authority and an artifact or image, dependent on the general world art development and on the specifics of power and art relationship. Therefore, underlining in the coat of arms such aspects as collectibility, provocativeness, exoticism, correlates V. Krivulin’s heraldry poems with ekphrases, devoted to the presence of art in Saint-Petersburg and to the complex fate of artifacts in the vicissitudes of history. In V. Krivulin’s lyrical heraldry I trace the visual semiotics influence of the Tartu-Moscow semiotic school, primarily in understanding the unity of the material, form, perspective view and conditional symbols of coat of arms, which immediately recalls the method of analyzing iconography as a spiritual authority manifestation in the Russian structuralism. But at the same time V. Krivulin gives enough markers that distinguish the coat of arms from works of art, and thus showing the crisis status of art in the 20th century. I note that these coats of arms are not conditional, a reader can always find real prototypes of these coats of arms, and thus their function turns out to be a historical linkage of the lyrical plot to the historical one. Close reading of these verses allows to clarify relationship between ekphrasis and historical reflections, its paradox and dynamism in V. Krivulin’s lyrical poetry, thereby identifying in a new perspective a combination of deeply melancholic mood and satirical, almost close to Sots Art principles in his works.


heraldry; lyrical motif; ekphrasis; images of authorities in literature; potestary imagology; underground poetry; Leningrad underground; Krivulin

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