Boris Nikolaevich Bugaev, better known by the pen name Andrei Bely (October 26 [O.S. October 14] 1880, Moscow – January 8, 1934, Moscow) was a Russian novelist, poet, theorist, and literary critic. His novel Petersburg was regarded by Vladimir Nabokov as one of the four greatest novels of the 20th century.
The Silver Doveby Andrei Bely, George Reavey (Translator)
Steeped in the social and religious culture of prerevolutionary Russia, Andrey Bely's first novel is inspired by theosophy, the myth of Dionysus, and the author's own thoughts on the relationship between artistic and religious creation. The story of an idle intellectual who pursues transcendence, The Silver Dove is also Bely's study of the unbridgeable chasm between his country's Westernized intelligentsia and the mysterious, apocalyptic passions of its peasants.
Dissatisfied with the life of the intellectual, the poet Daryalsky joins a rural mystic sect, the Silver Doves. The locals, and in particular the peasant woman Matryona, are fascinated by the dashing stranger. Daryalsky is taken in by the Doves' intimacy with the mystical and spiritual?and by Matryona. Under the influence of the cult leader, the carpenter Kudeyarov, Daryalsky is ruthlessly used in a bid to produce a sacred childa dove who will "descend on silvered plummage" and usher in a new age.
Bely, fascinated by the theosophical beliefs of the nineteenth century, places his hero at the center of a cycle in which elements of the past are eternally present, suggesting a parallel between Daryalsky and the figures of Dionysus and Christ. In time, Daryalsky disappoints the Doves and must face their all-too-mortal suspicions and jealousies, as well as his own doubts. As the story concludes, Bely invokes the primitive rituals of the bacchanalsand the symbols of the Crucifixionto reveal Daryalsky's dire fate.
About the Authors:
Andrey Bely (the pseudonym of Boris Nikolayevich Bugaev,1880?1934) was a leading theorist and poet of Russian Symbolism. The Silver Dove was published in 1908. In 1913 Bely moved to Switzerland but returned to Russia for good in 1923. His development of new writing techniques, evident in his masterpiece, Petersburg (1912), significantly influenced Russian prose and verse.
John Elsworth is a professor of Russian studies at the University of Manchester. He is the author of Andrey Bely: A Critical Study of the Novels (Cambridge, 1983) and the editor of The Silver Age in Russian Literature: Selected Papers from the Fourth World Congress for Soviet and East European Studies (St. Martins, 1992).
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