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DOI 10.52172/2587-6945_2022_20_2_63


The article for the first time examines D. S. Merezhkovsky's drama «Paul I» and Yu. N. Tynyanov's story «Second Lieutenant Kizhe» in a comparative aspect. The basis for the analysis is the theme common to both works – the phenomenon of autocratic power, as well as common historical material – the reign of Emperor Paul I. Tynyanov, as the author of historical prose, employed Merezhkovsky's principles of work with historical sources, some of his «techniques» and shared his interest in the anecdote as living evidence of a bygone era, considering it to be more trustworthy than the study of professional historians. The two writers approached the creation of their «myths» about Paul I from different angles. Merezhkovsky in the drama focused on the duality of the ruler: for the subjects he is a dangerous madman, endowed with unlimited power, for the author he is a suffering person bearing the burden of power. Tynyanov’s grotesque narrative centres on the story of an «empty place», shifting the focus of his denunciation from the emperor to the bureaucratic system he created, devising a kind of «autocracy formula». The two authors converge on the development of common motives, the source of which has an anti-Pavlovian memoir-historical tradition. These motifs are madness, fear and emptiness. They create a special atmosphere for both the play and the story. At the same time, both writers believe in the idea of the perniciousness of absolute power as such.


Emperor Paul I, D. S. Merezhkovsky, Yu. N. Tynyanov, the theme of power, historical prose, historical myth, comparative studies, motif analysis.