• The inserted narratives in Boris Godunov

    Miklos Mezosi (see profile)
    Literary theory
    Russian literature, Nineteenth century, Theater
    Item Type:
    Alexander Pushkin, Modest Musorgsky, Boris Godunov, romantic tragedy, 19th-century Russian literature, Dramatic genre, Literary criticism
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    We encounter three inserted narratives in Boris Godunov – both in Pushkin and in Musorgsky. The first and the second Uglich stories are related by the same characters in the opera as in the drama (Pimen and Shuisky respectively). The third narrative is related by the patriarch in Pushkin’s drama, whereas in Musorgsky by Pimen. After threatening Shuisky with “a terrible death”, Boris is expecting a true answer to his question: was the little child who died in Uglich the Tsarevich Dimitry really? Shuisky’s answer is yes. To confirm that he is speaking truth, Shuisky gives a detailed account of the Uglich mission (he was then sent by Godunov to the spot to investigate the circumstances of the mysterious death of the Tsarevich). This account turns out to be so realistic that it practically gives the Tsar the shivers. The third Uglich story is told by the patriarch in Pushkin's drama. That the pontiff is driven by political motives is obvious: he relates the story about the miraculous cure of the blind old man because with this “God himself has sent a means” to unmask the Pretender “impudently using the / Name of the Tsarevich as a stolen vestment. / But let us tear it off: he will himself / Be shamed by his nudity…” Taking the Uglich stories as key elements to the dramatic structure of Boris Godunov, this paper approaches the play with a close reading of the dramatic text, hoping to contribute to our understanding of Pushkin’s “political play.”
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    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
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