Title of the article:



Zsófia Kalavszky

A. P. Urakova

Information about the author/authors

Zsófia Kalavszky — PhD in Philology, Researcher, Research Centre for the Humanities, Institute for Literary Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Ménesi út, 11–13, 1118 Budapest, Hungary. E-mail: kalavszky.zsofia@btk.mta.hu

Alexandra P. Urakova — PhD in Philology, Senior Researcher, A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature, Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya St. 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia. E-mail: alexandraurakova@yandex.ru


Philological sciences




Vol. 53


pp. 169–180


September 27, 2018

Date of publication

September 28, 2019

Index UDK


Index BBK



The essay introduces and attempts to problematize the term “literary cult” that independently appeared in the literary studies of the last decades in Hungary and Russia. While the word “cult” belongs to the realm of popular media, the complex phenomenon that stands behind it deserves serious scholarly attention and reconsideration. Bearing on the theoretical works of Péter Dávidházi, Boris Dubin, Sergey Zenkin, Gábor Gyáni, Orsolya Rákai as well as on our own previous research, we show the “discontents” that scholars inevitably encounter when attempting to understand literary cult and introduce it in the literary theory. We also point at shared opinions and fundamental differences in Hungarian and Russian approaches. Hungarian notion of “cult” is broader in the sense that it incorporates official, state-inflicted cult and popular forms of cult following; Russian theoreticians tend to differentiate cult authors or texts from official national discourses or popular/populist rhetoric and thus narrow the term down. The difference is also due to different methodology. While agreeing that literary cult is a phenomenon of modernity, Hungarian scholars tend to see it primarily as a rhetoric mode or register whereas Russian researchers see it predominantly as a social phenomenon. The second part of the essay tests some of the theoretical implications on the example of Mikhail Zoshchenko’s “During the Pushkin Days,” a text that forms part of the so called belletristicheskaja puskiniana corpus. We show how Zoshchenko, in his parody of Pushkin jubilee celebrations in the Soviet Union, masterly uses and confronts the languages of cult. In our analysis of this text, we take into account the specificity of East-European (Russian and Soviet, in particular) attitudes to literary cults. 


literary cult, literary theory, East-European, Russia, Hungary, Pushkin, Zoschenko.


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