Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2019


This study logically continues my previous examination of the perception of Don Quixote in Russia throughout the early twentieth century and how this perception changed over time. In this new article, which will be the third in a sequence of five, I will again use a number of materials inaccessible to English-speaking scholars to demonstrate how the perception of Don Quixote by Russian intelligentsia shifted from being skeptical to complete admiration and even glorification of the hero. Don Quixote was increasingly compared with Prometheus, the most powerful and most romanticized personage of Greek methodology. Indeed, “. . . начав юмористический роман, осмеивающий увлечение современников рыцарскими похождениями, Сервантес и не думал, что потешный рыцарь печального образа постепенно вырастет в гигантскую фигуру страдальца-идеалиста” (“. . . when starting a humorous novel satirizing contemporary fascination with knightly adventures, Cervantes could not have guessed that the amusing Knight of the Sad Countenance would gradually grow into a great figure of the suffering idealist”; my trans; Solomin 91). The situation changed, though, and changed rapidly, during the 1920s to the 1930s. This decade was marked by a fascination with new forms, ideas, movements, and experimentations. The country finally overcame devastation and hunger, class battles were finally behind it, and the Russian intelligentsia readily stepped forward to help the country revive the cultural life that had been almost entirely lost since 1917.

Obviously, the new type of hero was coming to the forefront of the cultural discourse: the practitioner who, without fear, would be ready to sacrifice his life for the common good. And if such a hero could not be created in haste, he could easily be found in the classics. Don Quixote was chosen to become a symbol of the new Soviet man.


Copyright © 2019 by the South Atlantic Modern Language Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.