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The Created Legend   By: (1863-1927)

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"For there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so." SHAKESPEARE

"To the impure all things are impure." NIETZSCHE

In "The Little Demon" Sologub has shown us how the evil within us peering out through our imagination makes all the world seem evil to us. In "The Created Legend," feeling perhaps the need of reacting from his morose creation Peredonov, the author has set himself the task of showing the reverse of the picture: how the imagination, no longer warped, but sensitized with beauty, is capable of creating a world of its own, legendary yet none the less real for the legend.

The Russian title of the book is more descriptive of the author's intentions than an English translation will permit it to be. "Tvorimaya Legenda" actually means "The legend in the course of creation." The legend that Sologub has in mind is the active, eternally changing process of life, orderly and structural in spite of the external confusion. The author makes an effort to bring order out of apparent chaos by stripping life of its complex modern detail and reducing it to a few significant symbols, as in a rather more subtle "morality play." The modern novel is perhaps over psychologized; eternal truths and eternal passions are perhaps too often lost sight of under the mass of unnecessary naturalistic detail.

In this novel life passes by the author as a kind of dream, a dream within that nightmare Reality, a legend within that amorphousness called Life. And the nightmare and the dream, like a sensitive individual's ideas of the world as it is and as it ought to be, alternate here like moods. The author has expressed this changeableness of mood curiously by alternating a crudely realistic, deliberately naïve, sometimes journalese style with an extremely decorative, lyrical manner this taxing the translator to the utmost in view of the urgency to translate the mood as well as the ideas.

As a background we have "the abortive revolution of 1905." This novel is an emotional statement of those "nightmarish" days. Against this rather hazy, tempestuous background we have the sharply outlined portrait of an individual, a poet, containing a world within himself, a more radiant and orderly world than the one which his eyes look upon outwardly. It is this "inner vision" which permits him to see the legend in the outer chaos, and we read in this book of his efforts to disentangle the thread of this legend by the establishment of a kind of Hellenic Utopia.

It is not alone the poet who is capable of creating his legend, but any one who refuses to be subject to the whims of fate and to serve the goddess of chance and chaos, "the prodigal scatterer of episodes" (Aisa). The tragic thing about this philosophy, as one Russian critic points out, is that even the definite settling of the question does not assure one complete consolation, for, like Ivan Karamazov in Dostoyevsky's "Brothers Karamazov," one may say: "I do not accept God, I do not accept the world created by Him, God's world; I simply return Him the ticket most respectfully." Still it is with some such definite decision that he enters the kingdom of Ananke, the goddess of Necessity. Readers of "The Little Demon" have seen a practical illustration of the two forces in Peredonov and Liudmilla. Peredonov was petty and pitiful, "a little demon" nevertheless he too "strove towards the truth in common with all conscious life, and this striving tormented him. He himself did not understand that he, like all men, was striving towards the truth, and that was why he had that confused unrest. He could not find his truth, and he became entangled, and was perishing." Liudmilla, however, had saved herself from the pettiness and provinciality of this "unclean, impotent earth" by creating a new world for herself... Continue reading book >>

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