Chronotope in the Anti-utopian Novel. Towards the Interpretation of Eschatological Anti-utopia

 Main Conclusions

             The work “Chronotope in the Anti-utopian Novel. Towards the Interpretation of Eschatological Anti-utopia”, is devoted to research into a highly important and interesting problem: the genre definition of literary anti-utopia and study of the specificity of the realization of chronotopic models in particular anti-utopian texts. The purpose of the work was to study and identify the general paradigm of conceptualization of the categories of artistic time and space.

            The introduction touches upon the history of the research into the question, the scholarly conceptions around the problem are reviewed, significant sources and positions are analyzed; the conjectural motives of their origin and outcomes are pointed out. The principal methodological constructions on which the thesis is based are formulated here. It is indicated that the author of the present work considers it advisable to research into the genre of literary anti-utopia in the context of holistic and chronotopic theories. It is noted that the analysis of concrete literary material is based on the comparative method.

            In the first chapter, “Literary Anti-utopia and General Trends of Its Development”, the question of anti-utopia is discussed as the question of the genesis of a form of thought taken shape in ambivalent integrity with utopia and conceptual evolution. Analysis is given of philosophical and literary texts essential for the formation of the genre of literary anti-utopia. The following views are formulated:

1.      The formation of anti-utopia, as a concept, and later genre, is closely linked to the concept of utopia and genre. I believe, from the beginning anti-utopia became intertwined with utopia and together with it, it traversed a road of development before it came to actively oppose it in the shape of  counter-genre. It was not all of a sudden but gradually that anti-utopia developed into a system opposed to utopia, into its mirror reflection that soundly evaluated the illusory character of utopian mirage.

2.      The significant inner opposition of utopia and anti-utopia manifested itself way back at the level of the first utopian personage – the ambivalent phenomenon of Cronus and became especially well reflected in the satirical works of the Classical period, that constituted a contrastive synthesis of positive and negative elements.

3.      The perception of utopia and anti-utopia as elements of single but ambivalent whole altered to a certain extent in the period of stoicism, in particular in Seneca’s doctrine. The latter seriously questioned the prospect of really forming an ideal society, and he outlined an alternative way of reaching “idyllic happiness” – a way of personal and spiritual self-determination. Accordingly, I consider it right to take Seneca’s text of “Life without care” as a text of the first serious anti-utopian character.

4.      The Christian world view that actively opposed Caesar’s sinful and perverted model with that of heavenly paradise, further deepened and filled with content the opposition between the utopian and anti-utopian motives.

5.      An appreciable activation of the anti-utopian attitude is noticeable in the Middle Ages. The realistic anti-utopianism of Machiavelli and Hobbes came into sharp opposition with the utopian illusions widespread and popular in their times, giving priority to the realistic model of “strong authority”. Swift’s work “Gulliver’s Travels” was distinguished for complete scepticism with regard to utopia. The end of the writer’s illusions regarding the possibility of man’s humanism, equality and unity took shape in the work. The tragic split came to the light that existed between the creative individuality of the artist and the hardened norms of a mechanised society. “Gulliver’s Travels” demonstrated the breakdown of the ambivalent unity of utopia and anti-utopia, demonstrating the essential aspiration of anti-utopia towards an independent genre form.

6.      In the lap of romantic world view, namely Mary Shelley’s work “Frankenstein” or “The New Prometheus” gave rise to the cardinal theme of literary anti-utopia: the development of a mystic and destructive force subjected to human control that destroys all human.

7.       In the teachings of Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche the philosophical basis of literary anti-utopia took shape: man’s free activity, the problem of the loss of creative will and individual thought were posed acutely, not only the global crisis of the period found reflection in it but the tragedy of man caught up in the crisis; accordingly, the “philosophy of life” imbued with quest for individualism and subjectivist attitude can safely be considered the philosophical-conceptual basis of literary anti-utopia.

8.      The anti-utopian spirit deepened in the philosophical and literary space at the end of the 19th century. The best proof of this is the texts of F. Dostoyevsky’s “Great Inquisitor”, in which the main themes of literary anti-utopia came to light in their completeness: a) utopia that is coming close to the verge of implementation is destructive to man’s free will and creative nature; b) profanation of the sacred, biblical themes and the imposed collective happiness drives mankind to spiritual destruction.

9.      It is noteworthy that the Russian writer found an analogue in Georgian literary space as well, i.e. Vazha Pshavela, in whose works the establishment of personality and personal originality became the basic principle.

Resting on such strong, historical, philosophical and literary foundation, early in the 20th century the negative attitude of the world’s intellectual circles against utopia in general, and realizable utopia, in particular, took clear shape. Works of anti-utopian character were written one after another, which attacked not only their contemporary technocratic forecasts, but were steeped in universal scepticism and consistently formulated anti-utopian principles directed against universal identification, genetic standardization of society and mass culture. In the 20th century literary anti-utopia took shape as an independent literary genre.

            In chapter two, “Theoretical-methodological Aspects of the Conceptualization of the Genre of Anti-utopia and Genre Specifics”, a conceptual and structural analysis of the two different angles of the conceptualization of literary genre – synchronic and diachronic – is presented; a theoretical-methodological criterion of defining the genre of literary anti-utopia is determined, the conceptual, motivational and structural models of anti-utopia as an independent literary genre are designated. The following views are outlined:

1. Since Classical times to the present day, the theory of genre has to a certain extent taken two differing, antagonistic courses: synchronic and diachronic. Synchronism reflects the permanence and constancy of genre forms, while diachronic course evinces periodic transformation in the context of historical and cultural changes. Accordingly, the definition of genre in the synchronic aspect is based on the assumption of formulated literary conventions, while in the diachronic aspect, of non-formulated literary conventions. In the synchronic perspective the genre is perceived as an established, formulated and steadied construction, determined by intra-literary laws, while in diachronic perspective as a permanently becoming system, depending on historical and cultural values characteristic of a concrete period. The history of the genre theory equally reflected the conceptual and structural evolution of these two differing angles.

2.      The theoretical thinking of the Classical period (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Horace and Quintilian) defines genre as an established and regulated order, the so-called decorum that corresponds to the specificity of a concrete specimen of art, and is determined by structural-receptive characteristics peculiar to it.

3.      The genre criticism of the Renaissance period (Chaucer, Rustaveli, Dante, Minturno, Scalieri) constitutes not only a dynamic continuation and strengthening of classical synchronism, but its correction and development. Despite the considerable influence of Aristotle’s “Poetics” and, accordingly the dominance of the conception of synchronism, the Renaissance genre criticism was still distinguished by definite innovations: the mobility and flexibility of the socio-political model characteristic of the Renaissance period, made for the unusual flexibility and the formation of extraordinary subgenre combinations of literary genres; in other words, the late Renaissance period, for the first time in the theory of genre, demonstrated the significance of the so-called extra-literary factors  in regulating the inner, so-called intra-literary processes.

4.      Unlike the Renaissance period, the neoclassical period (Boileau, Dryden, Johnson), with few exceptions, was marked by extreme dogmatism and sketchiness. The interest in genre classification of literature, inherited from the classical period, became one of the most important levers of “rational period” thought, while synchronism, one of the permissible methods of genre determination.

5.      In the context of the dichotomised interrelationship of classicism and romanticism, the essential antagonism took shape in the process of working out the concept of genre: whereas neo-classicist critics considered it decisive to analyse a concrete writer or work within the frame of a concrete genre, critics of the period of romanticism gave conceptual priority to interpretation of genre forms from the standpoint of individual parameters; in other words, to romanticists (Goethe, Schiller, Hugo) it was not the structural-psychological aspect of genre, but its spiritual-psychological side. At the same time the genre theory of the romantic period was distinguished for an outside-the-prism view, or quest for a link of genre models with a system outside literature; not only synchronic but diachronic possibilities of genre conceptualization came to light: orientation to “outside” meant the assumption of the relation of literature with the principle of “variability”.

6.      The theory of genre (Belinsky, Chavchavadze, Brunetiere), formulated in the second half of the 19th century, on the one hand, in terms of world view, disassociated itself from the idea of the “individual autonomy of an artist”, established by the romanticists, while on the other hand, it firmly based itself on its contemporary philosophical and scientific achievements; accordingly, I believe that genre criticism of the post-romantic period, which was distinguished for its argued outside-the-prism view, came into contact with diachronism as realization of the principal methodology and conceptualization in the context of historical-social context.

7.      B. Croce became one of the first interpreters of the modern theory of genre. However, the theory of the “rejection of genre”, put forward by him, met with opponents from the beginning in the 20th-century critical space in the shape of the Russian formalistic school and Czech structuralism. The activity of both schools may be assessed as a synchronic conception based on intra-literary, autonomous, technical-formal laws. The first thinker who boldly broke the tradition of synchronic conceptualization of genre and who successfully gave a scholarly argumentation of the diachronic conception was M. Bakhtin. He conceptualized genre as a trans-missive link between social and linguistic structures creating a noteworthy and scientifically argued precedent of conceptualization of genre in the diachronic context. In opposition to this, structural poetics (Todorov, Culler) returned to the synchronic trend of conceptualization of genre – that, too, in modified form. The theory of I. Lotman, leader of the Russian structural school proved to be an exception, being a successful attempt to unite the synchronic and diachronic angles in “text” and “extra-text” models in which any literary text is conceptualized in the context of history or extra-text. Lotman’s initiative found analogues in the theoretical trends of hermeneutic criticisms and receptive aesthetics, yet attaining serious depth in Northrop Frye’s theory.

8.      Thus the review of the evolution of the genre theory since the Classical period to the present has made it clear that the definition of genre from classical times to the mid-20th century was unilaterally related either to synchronic or diachronic dimensions. The demolition of the radical principle “or-or” commenced in the methodologies of the leading literary-critical schools of the 20th century, and was carried out in an attempt to synthesize the synchronic and diachronic angles.

9.      I believe that the formation of the genre of anti-utopia is conditioned both by synchronic or formulated, intra-structural norms and by diachronic or non-formulated, historical-cultural aspects. In my view, literary anti-utopia: a)mastered extremely well the experience and specificity of literary utopia; b) successfully tried the inter-genre combination of the genre of the utopian novel with the genres of classical comedy and satire; c) it adapted itself in the social space of definite periods; d) developed historical and cultural consciousness. Hence, I believe that literary anti-utopia integrated the synchronic and diachronic laws and affected their valuable synthesis. The global or holistic theory is the theoretical-methodological foundation which, in my view, is the right criterion for defining the structure and the specificity of genre. It integrates the synchronic and diachronic angles of genre, or unites the conceptions of the static intra-structural and dynamic outside-the structure, establishing genre as intra and extra entity.

10.  In order to express the concepts of genre graphically, I applied the figure of “Archimedes’ spiral” which schematically reflects the relationship of two intersecting worlds – definite and indefinite. In my opinion, the structure of Archimedes’ spiral precisely applies to the interdependence of the synchronic and diachronic angles of the genre theory: if the synchronic model permanently tends to the diachronic model and expands in the direction of the historical-cultural context, the diachronic model also permanently tends towards the synchronic, narrowing in the direction of concrete genre characteristics. Valuable in this flexible spiral construction is intersection of the synchronic and diachronic models, expressing the necessity and permanence of the union of these two differing and graphically corresponding to the global or holistic theory genre conceptualization.

11.  The holistic theory involves and integrates both models of genre determination: synchronic and diachronic. The synchronic model serves as the basis of the etymological, typological and semiotic classification, while the diachronic model synthesises genre, as a strengthened construction with concrete environmental conditions, determines the extent of the adaptation of genre in a definite historical-cultural context. In my view, literary anti-utopia, as a genre can be identified and evaluated only within the context of the holistic theory. Over the centuries, anti-utopia gathered around itself characteristics specific to the genre, but genre was formed, determined and implemented within a definite historical, social and cultural context; in other words, the diachronic perspective of genre establishment intersected – at a definite, ontologically valuable phase – with the synchronic perspective of genre.

12.  In my view, the principal genre characteristic and determining genre feature of literary anti-utopia are ordered society of opposition / person identified with opposition, mass/person, where society is a relevant concept of mass subjected to hypertrophied governmental mechanism, while a human being is a concept of a person opposed to it, or nonconformist. Accordingly, two differing psychological types take shape in an anti-utopian novel: mass and individual, whose antagonistic interrelationship is clearly revealed in the motivational model of an anti-utopian novel.

13.  Several established motifs constitute the motivational basis of an anti-utopian novel: motif of collective work; motif of quasi-nomination; motif of leader; motif of scientific progress and technocracy; motif of the levelling of the creative mind; motif of fear; motif of destruction of family tradition; pseudo-carnival and pseudo-ritual motif; motif of parodying. The specificity of each of these motivation models are analysed in detail in the work.

14.  Having outlined the general motivational model of literary anti-utopia as a genre, I considered it advisable to define its general structural models as well. If the motivation model of genre determines its conceptual model, the structural specificity of the genre or its inner-structural framework not only reveals clearly the basic laws of genre but serves as the basis of deepening the conceptual model of genre and intra-genre division. In my opinion, the following should be considered the basic structural characteristics of anti-utopia: a) the plot of anti-utopia is placed between the coordinates of “hell” and “paradise”; b) the world of anti-utopia is directed towards a boundary zone, a valuable landmark, which must be overcome by the nonconformist character; c) the temporal and spatial paradigm is vertical. Each of these structural models is analysed in detail in the work. By way of conclusion it may be said that: the main plot opposition of an anti-utopian text, hell/paradise, is an ordered society/individual person of the central conceptual opposition of the genre, or a structural paradigm mass/person. “Here”, which is the symbol of happiness and paradise for the standard-bearers of the new order, turns into an analogue of disaster and false-paradise or hell for the character of an anti-utopia. Contrary to this, “there”, where for the ideologists the dangerous “hell” or anarchy caused by destabilization reigns, for the character of anti-utopia an unrestricted world of freedom or paradise is in place. The foregoing gives us ground to conclude: whereas “here” structurally integrates the opposition paradise/false paradise or hell, “there” also structurally encompasses the opposition hell/false hell or paradise. Accordingly, the world of realized utopia in literary anti-utopia and the world of realized utopia and the world of anti-utopia risen against it, represented in literary anti-utopia, is topographically identical, and is a contrastive unity of functionally antagonistic systems marked by plus and minus +/­­- signs. Proceeding from this, I shall make bold to assert that the structural law determining anti-utopia is its binary nature or contradictory wholeness of binary opposition.

15.  Anti-utopia effects cultural materialization of the contrastive model of binary pairs, demonstrating its contradictory relation to the model of the real world.

16.  In the anti-utopian novel the utopian model exists as a permanent reality, while the anti-utopian model takes shape in relation to it. The utopian model embraces space horizontally, for ideal equality cannot be unequal, while the anti-utopian is in the process of search for an alternative. The valuable projection of an anti-utopian model is vertical: its vertical paradigm emerges from the horizontal plane of utopia. Paradigmatic reorientation of horizontal model to vertical brings about conceptual reorientation of space from desacred plane to sacred spread or valuable transformation the model “here” to model “there”. At the same time, it is noteworthy that the archetypal conflict of the here/there opposition causes basic change of temporal structures. “This” time is opposed by “another” time, “that” time that will set in “after” and is not “now”. “After” lies beyond the valuable boundary, i.e. border zone, and the mobile character tends to it on the vertical paradigm. I believe that the central structural oppositions, identified by me, hell/paradise, below/above, now/after clearly depict the temporal spatial or chronotopic orientation.

Accordingly, I consider accentuating chronotopic coordinates fully justified and logical.

Chapter three, “Towards the Conceptualization of the Concepts of Time and Space: Trends of Realization of Artistic Time and Space in Literary Anti-utopia” analyses two cardinally differing conceptions – subjectivist and objectivist; their literary-critical connotations and relation to the question of genre and relation to the question of genre determination of literary anti-utopia are discussed and a liminal theory of time and space is formulated. The following views are stated:

1. I believe that the difference between the subjectivist and objectivist trends of conceptualization of time-space is due to the non-uniform conceptualization of finiteness/infinity of time, reversibility/irreversibility, and, accordingly, of concepts of death and eternity.

2. Having analysed in detail the relation of classical thinkers to the problem of time and space, I came to the conclusion that review of ancient Greek conceptions of time and space shows the presence of two, albeit differing, yet parallel projections: a) Parmenides – Zeno – Plato – Plotinus; b) Heraclitus – Pythagoras – Democritus – Aristotle; the difference between these projections stems from their invariant attitude to time and related problems of space, while parallelism is due to a certain vagueness of positions: time in their thought is neither a purely subjective, nor purely objective category.

3. The first thinker who put an end to conceptual vacillation was Saint Augustine. He definitively acknowledged the limitation of time to human consciousness, and he methodically worked out a subjectivist theory. In St. Augustine’s teaching, cycling time, characteristic of the Classical period, is superseded by rectilinear, teleological time. St. Augustine considers its direction to be an apocalyptic drive towards “non-being”, as a result of which eternity free from the shackles of time will set in.

4. The Christian conception of time, formulated in St. Augustine’s teaching, as profound eschatologist, found large-scale reflection in Christian philosophy and was fully revealed in Georgian Christian thought.

5. However, the founders of exact sciences opposed the Christian position with the principle of causal determinism: Galilee placed time in the frame of geometry, conceptualizing it as the fourth dimension of space, while Newton declared it (time) an absolute category existing by itself, objectively and unrelated to outside phenomena.

6. Hegel’s theory based on historical dialectic, became the philosophical implication of the objectivistic theory of time and space, while Kant’s teaching was taken for a subjectivist alternative, in which time and space constituted not components characteristic of reality but a priori forms of sensible perception; definition of the interrelationship of the essence of time and space continued with great intensity in post-Kantian times too – both in philosophical and scientific spheres (G. Berkeley, Ch. Darwin, G Leibniz); yet it reached a critical phase after A. Einstein created his theory of relativity.

7. Einstein’s physics, in particular the theory of relativity, conceptualized time to be the fourth coordinate of space or component of a single temporal-spatial continuum, ruling out the probability of subjectivist conceptualization of time and space. The theories of S. Alexender and P. Florenski may be considered a philosophical implication of Einstein’s theory, while H. Bergson’s teaching may be taken for its conceptual opponents.

8. Bergson developed a “theory of pure duration”, according to which the value of duration free of chronology is conditioned by its quality. Length or a durée implies gaining an insight into the uninterrupted continuum of the universe, the subject being considered its only carrier.

The following may be said by way of conclusion: whereas the supporters of the objectivistic theory consider time and space to be objectively existing categories (obviously from differing angles of shade), the subjectivists consider them as characteristic of subject. A difference in principle between these two positions – apart from the contradictory definition between the essence of time and space – is created by the non-uniform definition of the problems of reversibility/irreversibility, the finiteness/infinity of time and space and death/eternity: whereas those who unequivocally support the objectivistic theory of the law of irreversibility of time, the supporters of the subjectivist law attempt to explain the inversional irreversibility of time by the conception of projecting memory and imagination in the present: while the supporters of the objectivistic theory of time unanimously acknowledge the idea of infinity of the flow of time as the property of moving matter, the subjectivist flatly rule out and reject this idea; if according to the objectivistic theory of time the values of time and space depend not on the inner world of the individual but on moving matter, according to the subjectivist theory of time, both time and space are finite categories and their finiteness as characteristics of the really existing world is due to the finiteness of the world itself; whereas according to the objectivistic theory, “eternity” is a quantitative measure of time, corresponding to an uninterrupted length of time, according to the subjectivist theory of time, “eternity” is a concept denoting supra-reality – of a quality free of the quantitative framework of time.

            But any discourse of the categories of time and space at the level of literary text, primarily implies definition of the specificity of implementing the categories of time and space in the literary system, or theoretical-literary definition of artistic time and artistic space. In my opinion, in the wake of the philosophical-scientific conceptualization of time and space objectivistic and subjectivist trends became the determining trends in the definition of time and space in 20th century literary criticism:

1.      M. Bakhtin’s chronotopic theory is the most important connotation in the objectivistic theory of conceptualization of time and space. The term “chronotope” demonstrates Bakhtin’s conviction in the indivisibility of time and space in an artistic structure. For Bakhtin chronotope is a sort of measure of how, under conditions of a concrete period and concrete genre, the synthesis takes place of personalities significant for real historical time and space and for history, as well as the process of correlation with them of artistic time, space and characters. In other words, Bakhtin’s chronotope is simultaneously a historical event and genre as well, being conceptualized from synchronic and diachronic aspects.

2.      Conceptualization of time and space as a single whole segment found serious supporters in Russian and European literary criticism. In this respect, J. Frank’s article, written in the spirit of “spatial form” and entitled “Spatial form in Modern Literature” merits special attention. However, the objectivistic trend of temporal-spatial continuum found a serious alternative in the opposing subjectivist conception marked by dominance of time. I believe, the article by William V. Spanos, “Modern Literary Criticism and Specialization of Time: Existential Critique”, acquires programmatic significance from this point of view.

3.      In my view, the trends of implanting the theory of time and space in a literary system, or the basic literary critical connotations of the theory of time and space, reveal the difference that exists between their theoretical-methodological principles.

4.      The conception of chronotope and the logical attempt to adapt it to the literary genre system of anti-utopia is, in my view, not only right and valid but even essential in the process of intra-structural determination. The chronotopic model of anti-utopia as a valuable structural framework of the genre becomes integrated with the also valuable conceptual and motivational models, resulting in a single, whole, substantiated genre model which, I think, can well be deepened along the lines of anti-utopian meta-text. The idea of anti-utopian meta-text not only rounds up the literature of anti-utopian genre but it allows its internal division as well. An essential aspect of determination, in my view, stems from the specificity of chronotopic models. Accordingly, I consider the chronotopic system of text to be the basis of the genre determination of anti-utopia, or the author’s individual relation to chronotopic opposition characteristic of anti-utopia.

5.      The non-uniform conceptualization of the chronotopic model in the context of synchronic or intra-genre and diachronic or cultural-historical processes makes for the determination of the genre of anti-utopia into anti-utopias of individual types: scientific anti-utopia, fantastic anti-utopia, satirical anti-utopia, etc. I consider Nabokov’s works “Invitation to a Beheading” and “Bend Sinister” as an independent variety of anti-utopia, defining it as eschatological anti-utopia. I believe that the novel “Jaqo’s Dispossessed” by the great Georgian writer M. Javakhishvili may be read in the same context.

6.      Eschatology, that defines the structure of this specific variety of anti-utopia, would seem to point from the beginning to the writer’s in-depth attitude to chronotopic models. The central problem of eschatological anti-utopia is not only a grotesque protest against the existing regime, but awakening of a person lost in the depth of “ideal order” and “mass” ideology, demonstration of his total incompatibility with the existing temporal-spatial setting and his drive towards an alternative temporal-spatial milieu. Accentuated in eschatological anti-utopia are both separate motifs and traits, characteristic of anti-utopia, and a trend to global conceptualization of space; in other words, social-historical anti-utopianism is transferred to the apocalyptic plane and the moral function of the chronotope is extended.

7.      I believe that the leading position in the text of eschatological anti-utopia is retained by the category of artistic time, the conceptualization of which is essentially subjectivist. A wholeness of time and space is formed, but time in this continuum is neither the fourth coordinate of space, as conceptualized in Bakhtin’s theory, nor a specialized model, as defined by J. Frank: time is a conceptual dominant – justification of the diachronic process of the formation of the genre of anti-utopia, on the one hand, and the central segments of the synchronous structure of the genre, on the other.

8.      The plot time and space, characteristic of eschatological anti-utopia, is a subjectivist transposition of centuries-old philosophical and scientific conceptualization of time and space. In other words, eschatological anti-utopia, which discusses the categories of time and space in the context of deep eschatologism, offers a subjectivist interpretation of time and space.

The realisation of the extremely subjective paradigm in the context of eschatological anti-utopia became closely linked with the thought over man’s earthly destiny, valuable limit and limitlessness. I think the theory of “limit” or that of liminality, developed in the 1920s by positive anthropology, and later by structural anthropology ideally fitted the eschatological conceptualization of temporal-spatial categories. The concept of liminality is based on subjectivist trends of conceptualization of the universe, in particular time and space, acquiring apocalyptic depth in the chronotopic model of eschatological anti-utopia. The following views are stated in the work:

1. The founder of the liminal theory, the French anthropologist Arnold van Gennep, linked the term and concept “liminality” to the ritual of transition. He believes that each process of movement or “transition” is united in three phases: 1) Separation; 2) Marginality or liminality; 3) Uniting or incorporation. The first phase implies isolation of a concrete individual form or distinguished individual, so called “initiate” from a fixed social or cultural structure; the second phase expresses the ambivalent state of the initiate or “transit passenger” – his transfer to an intermediate, ambivalent social zone, to the so-called “limbo”; the third phase corresponds to the return of the initiate to the society – only with a renewed social status of the individual.

2. Of the cited three phases special interest attaches to the second or liminal phase in which the individual acquires the experience of the social environment becoming totally vague and he disassociates from the real temporal-spatial environment. The term “liminal” derives from Latin liminital, meaning threshold – a corridor between two different places. It is introduced into theory with an analogous purpose. In its essence and function the liminal phase is a transitive, dynamically intermediate condition, placed between established and transformed structures. Accordingly, the ritual or movement or rites de passage may be defined as integrity of the three conditions: “pre-liminal”, which implies separation from the pre-world; “liminal”, denoting the period of transitivity, and “post-liminal”, related to incorporation in the new world.

3. Almost half a century later Gennep’s theory was transferred to the plane of structural anthropology by Victor Turner; he defined the liminal phase as “inter-structural situation” arising “between various position structures”. In Turner’s view, the liminal phase performs the function of threshold, separating differing stages of life. In the liminal phase the status of the individual is essentially ambivalent and vague – “neither here, nor there”. He is stranded, in an indefinite position, in condition of expectation of implementation of reconstructed and renewed cultural models and alternative paradigms.

4. Production of an “alternative” is the principal function and purpose of Turner’s liminal theory. Alternative implies the possible existence not only of one, visible world but of other alternative worlds as well. Accordingly, whereas the really existing world constitutes the given condition of the pre-liminal state, it causes the separation of the individual from the firmed structures; the alternative world is the result of the post-liminal state – a structure that takes shape as a result of transformation. As to the liminal phase, it corresponds both conceptually and structurally to those deep ethical layers that perform the role of a certain transit corridor, connecting link, a valuable boundary between “this” and “other” world.

5. I believe that by its essence and purpose literature constitutes a liminal phenomenon: it performs the function of a transitory phase between reality and imagination, or between the chronologically ordered world restricted by technological-bureaucratic numeration and the creative world imbued with conviction, true ideas and fantasies.

6. The idea of liminality of literature is justified by the evolutionary paradigm of the genre theory: in the context of synchronic and diachronic angles, where literature is conceptualized as a subversive support marginality (Plato, Aristotle) or as an intermediary neutrality (F. Sidney), or as a self-transcendental flexibility (Schiller, Shelley), literature is unswervingly perceived as liminal condition, intermediary phenomenon that is capable not only of separating worlds differing from one another, but – owing to the real model of the world, of producing an alternative or “other world’s” model.

7. Production of an alternative implies not only accentuation of an obvious difference between the real and imagined worlds but demonstrating those logical and ontological contradictions that exist between necessity and possibility. An alternative world turns into a possibility only when it takes shape in the author’s fantasy and is consistently implemented through the transformational spirit of a chosen protagonist. The liminal phase is an essential aspect of the transformation process, as transition space spread between alternative worlds, ambivalent ontological landscape serving as a watershed of existing and imaginary systems. The categories of time and space constitute the principal and determining categories of transitivity;

8. Rites de passage or ritual of moving is a bridge built to the other, oppositional reality, calling for an absolutely different interpretation of temporal-spatial dimensions.

            Turner devoted a special study to this problem, entitled: “Images of Anti-temporality. An Essay in Experimental Anthropology”. The following aspects of the paper are noteworthy:

1.      The principal object of research – “anti-temporality” – is from the beginning conceptualized by Turner in an oppositional or alternative context: “anti-temporality” is a concept oppositional to “temporality”, it is an undivided integrity that allows conceptualization of the ontological reevaluation of mankind’s socio-cultural experience. In this case the liminal phase constitutes an intermediary, transitional, ambivalent, “neither-here-nor-there condition”, in which the individual disassociates from the normative context and, through transformation produces an oppositional, contrastive world. Accordingly, liminal time, as well as liminal space reflects the highly complex process of the individual’s disassociation from the ordered chronological system, on the one hand, and his integration into an alternative anti-chronological, anti-temporal system on the other.

2.      Proceeding from the philosophical-world view fundamentals, genre specificity and the subjectivist trend of conceptualization of time and space, it may be concluded: literary anti-utopia, in particular eschatological anti-utopia, with its total incompatibility with the existing pseudo-utopian regime, the chronologically, temporally and spatially ordered model of life, as well as his indefatigable drive towards reincarnation of man’s individual self (Ego), towards liberty, elevation, creates a brilliant mould for the liminal phase. Eschatological anti-utopia not only reflects the split that exists between the subject and objective reality but is an ambivalent stepping-stone, a “transit corridor” for passage into a different, alternative cosmos; opposition between the pre-liminal and post-liminal, or alternative worlds at the level of eschatological anti-utopia is qualitatively incompatible and disproportionate;

3.      I think the paradigm of a synthetic conceptualization of this anti-utopian model is extremely well proved by the liminal models of artistic time and space, taken shape in 20th-century eschatological anti-utopias, performing a genre-determining function.

In Chapter Four, “Liminal Models of Artistic Time and Space in 20th-Century Eschatological Anti-utopias” (according to V. Nabokov’s novel “Invitation to a Beheading” and “Bend Sinister” and M. Javakhishvili’s novel “Jaqo’s Dispossessed)” the following views are outlined:

         1. The interpretation of these novels of Nabokov and Javakhishvili into a single genre model, in my view, is equally based on diachronic, or historical-cultural, and synchronic, or intra-literary factors: a) the creative activity of both writers belong to one and the same period, proceeding under such totalitarian regimes as communism and fascism; b) the conceptual levers of the cited novels are unambiguously linked to the quest of the individual Ego, lost in the mass drive, as well as of the faith and God, leveled by the effort of the leaders of the regime; the three novels meet the classic genre characteristics of literary anti-utopia and go deeper in the direction of the eschatological experience of the world; c) in the works of either writer time and space constitute aspects of subjective cognition, characteristics of human mind, developed as a result of inner perception.

         2. Nabokov clearly formulated the conception of time in his novel “”Ada”. The material reviewed by me shows that Nabokov’s theory, in all parameters, shares the subjectivist position of time perception, in which temporal and spatial dimensions constitute internal composition rather than external. Javakhishvili also reveals an analogous attitude to the time phenomenon. His negative attitude to the real model of time demonstrates the writer’s striving to leave the existing world – to an alternative reality. Both writers see a way out in a subject lit up only with an individual ego – in a person that wakes up, sets out his own cosmogony marked by eschatological depth, and works out an alternative reality beyond the valuable boundary, ambivalent liminal zone and most involved painful transformations.

         3. Such paradigm of the chronotopic system in the novels of Nabokov and Javakhishvili is projected in-depth in a general motivational paradigm of the anti-utopian genre, is integrated with the genre characteristics of literary anti-utopia and defines its specific variety – conceptual and structural model of eschatological anti-utopia. Obviously, I am not asserting the idea that the cited novels of Nabokov and Javakhsihsvili evince absolute ideal-political identity, but their relation to liminal processes, and which is important, to an alternative cosmos, is analogous.

         My views in the work are argued by means of the method of comparative investigation, on the intercultural plane; against the background of a detailed analysis of material, the following characteristics typical of artistic time and space models are identified and analyzed in the above novels:

         1. All parameters indicative of real time constitute a configurative element of a chronologically ordered model, being rigid temporally. The flow of objective time is irreversible. It speeds along to an end, this end being death.

         2. The ordered structure of objective time is opposed by internal time, distinguished for its uneven pulsation, which is inversely reversible, or projects memory and imagination in the present.

         3. Subjective time is worked out by the non-conformist hero of anti-utopia, who internalizes the world into a single whole beyond “cosmic synchronizing”: he adopts it, destroys it, restores it, colors it with subjective imaginings and gives shape to an absolutely new, alternative reality.

         4. In the process of forming an alternative reality the character breaks away from real time, transfers into the liminal phase of time – into the ambivalent zone where, at the cost of extreme spiritual concentration, he works out an alternative temporal model.

         5. Anti-temporality is the only alternative of real time – a quality free from the quantitative framework of time, or supra-temporal eternity.

         6. Both writers flourishing in the period of totalitarianism permanently direct their efforts towards transforming the countable and measurable parameters of objective time into an internal texture in which the process of individual cognition of the temporal world consciously develops into its rejection, or contradictory perception of death. Death is an end to the extent it is the last boundary beyond which the other world’s alternative duration spreads that is free from time and, accordingly of fear, torture, captivity and death.

         7. In the complex compositional structure of the novels spatial structure undeviatingly performs the function of a multi-aspectual and in-depth layer.

         8. In general spatial model is characterized by “extra spatial” and “intra-spatial” hierarchic quality: the former is a micro-model of the real world, while the latter the personal spatial field growing up in the character’s consciousness.

         9. The “outer space” is a metaphoric realization of a geometrically ordered Euclidian world. It bears the character of artificially illustrated entourage, being distinguished for pseudo-carnival meaning. “Outer space” is a zone closed on all sides.

         10. “Inner space” constitutes an alternative model of “outer space”. Cardinal spatial oppositions emerge; “here/there”, hell/paradise, desacred/sacred, static/dynamic. Their conflict is demonstrated by the arbitrary interrelationship of binary spatial oppositions;

         11. “Inner space” is the result of the complex spiritual transformation of the character, essentially adapted to the sacred model of liminal space.

         12. I believe that the hierarchy of the time and space structures characteristic of the world view of Nabokov and Javakhishvili constitutes an internalized, subjective form of the outer world. Against the background of the developing structure of subjective reality, a sensation of continuity and simultaneity, conditioned by individual coordination of temporal and spatial coordinates, characteristic of the mind are created. The specific chronotopic system logically merges with conceptual, motivational and structural characteristics typical of literary anti-utopia, determining the formation of a special variety of literary anti-utopia, namely eschatological anti-utopia.

         Thus the general paradigm of conceptualization of artistic time and space in 20th-century anti-utopian novel has been discussed in the present work, and specificity of genre definition of literary anti-utopia and realization of chronotopic models in concrete anti-utopian texts has been identified. I think, the problem posed is of topical character and its large-scale study should be continued in future too. Consideration of the problem of genre determination of literary anti-utopia in the context of specific chronotopic models and their transformational quality will facilitate further deepening of theoretical research into the genre of anti-utopia as well as the implementation of one of the serious methodological conceptions of conceptualization of 20th-century literature, and obviously Georgian literature too.

 Translated from Georgian into English by Ariane Chanturia



  Irma Ratiani