polutrope: (academia)
I had a thoroughly enjoyable day shopping with my chère [livejournal.com profile] dolique - short on getting practical things like shirts, which I need, long on awesome jewelery, cheap CDs, and love - which now draws to a not so enjoyable close with German journal when I get around to it, and my painful GEO 210 prelab, for which I pulled a miraculous memory of the basics of geometry from out of nowhere. (Ghost of Euclid helping me for knowing his language? I dunno.)

But really, the point of this is to mock the book I read on the train back to Princeton. "Mother Russia: The Feminine Myth in Russian Culture." Now, with things like that you always risk overanalysis due to paucity of evidence, but not so much as this lady does. But that's sort of generally expected when you read books about female goddesses, and it's boring - you know, paleolithic matriarchal utopia ruined by the big bad patriarchal Indo-Europeans. Aside from the fact that she wants the folklore of Russia to reflect both the paleolithic goddess-worship and the Indo-European comparative mythology, there's nothing interesting there. (Although it was annoying of her to keep referring to Demeter as "horse-headed" - where is she getting that from? There's weird things about Demeter, sure, like the Themisphora - why should an agricultural goddess be concerned with lawgiving? Maybe there is something to Rousseau's "...wheat civilized mankind and ruined humanity" - with the advent of fields and the cultivation of wheat (which Demeter taught to men), laws were needed.)

Gee that was a long tangent. In any case, the point at which I stopped and stared at the page was when she makes Eugene Onegin a reflection of the struggle between the western, male invader and the earth of Mother Russia, embodied in Tatiana. Her name is "a synonym for Mother Earth in peasant lore and related to Shakespeare's queen of the fairies." Aside from the question of what Titania has to do with anything - I could not have picked two characters farther apart - Tatiana is an amazingly common name. Perhaps Olga is really a reference to the Olga who founded Pskov.

Onegin is "a freak" who "reverses the natural order. He is Hades kidnapping Kore." And then "Lenskii enters to save the girl..." which was totally not what happened, as Mme. Hubbs would know if she had read the poem. Lenskii is also "a sacrificed Son-Consort, the Adonis who dies for the love of his perfidious and changeable mistress." This, of course, gives Olga far too much credit. Pushkin doesn't dislike her, and she's a symbol of the moral of the story - which, I believe, is "God gives habit from heaven in place of happiness." But she's not a goddess-figure. (For one thing, the Goddess actually cares about her consort. Part of the point of that part of the story is that Olga forgets Lenskii.)

"She[Tatiana, of course] is Russia, and she is the eternal feminine debased by the tsars and their court; she is the goddess of love and life..." and later, "she sits there enthroned like a sorrowful Kore...Eugene is...destroyed and petrified by this female ruler of the underworld who (in sorrow) takes her revenge on those who did not respect her benign and life-affirming attributes." Those quotations pretty much stand for themselves. Basically, they have nothing to do with the text at all.

And so this rant on how she got Tatiana's refusal totally wrong is clearly not necessary, but since it gets on my nerves at least as much as the rest of it, she basically could not be more wrong about anything. Tatiana's refusal has absolutely nothing to do with revenge, even sorrowful revenge; she's not thinking of Onegin at that point. She's thinking of Prince Gremin, to whom she is now contentedly married. She forsakes youthful, burning passion for the responsibility of mature love; she makes the decision that will harm the fewest people. It has nothing at all to do with being a goddess and Onegin being Hades. Because that's silly.
polutrope: (moar academia)
For my Odyssey class I am writing "about Helen." Since that means that I'm going to be working off about a hundred lines, I went to the library to find some secondary sources, and for some reason there's not much about her! Through use of the subject heading search in the catalog, I found The Meaning of Helen by Robert Meagher.

About 80 pages in, I thought "Wow, I cannot quote this book ever." This was triggered by his talking about how before the Indo-Europeans came, the Neolithic peoples lived in matriarchal Peace and Harmony.
Abandon all organization, all ye who enter here )

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