The study examines some questions concerning interpretations of Slovak art in the 1960s, employing the analysis of essays by the writer Dominik Tatarka (1913–1989) on fine art. I have chosen these texts, which tie into the tradition of irrational, emphatic writing and the interpretation of artworks, because their analysis unveils the workings of the national myth on visual art. Reliving the myths linked to popular narratives marks out the cultural space of Central Europe. Put in more general terms, I will address the specific relation between modernism and anachronism, particularly between progressive humanist thinking on modern culture on the one hand and national mythology on the other hand.
Goldmark was the first of several composers to write a work based on Heinrich von Kleist’s controversial play, Penthesilea. Early critical opinion about the overture was divided. Hanslick found it distasteful, whereas others were thrilled by Goldmark’s powerful treatment of the subject. Composed in 1879, during the 1880s Penthesilea became established in orchestral repertoire throughout Europe and America. The overture represents the conflict of violence and sexual attraction between the Queen of the Amazons and Achilles. Exoticism in the play is achieved by contrasting brutal violence, irrational behaviour and extreme sensual passion. This is recreated musically by drawing on topics established in opera. Of particular note is the use of dissonance and unexpected modulations, together with extreme rhythmic and dynamic contrast. A key feature of the music is the interplay between military rhythms representing violence and conflict, and a legato, rocking theme which suggests desire and sensuality.
A tanulmány egyetlen szöveg elemzéséből indul ki: idősebb Plinius Naturalis historiájának leírásából az oroszlánról (8, 41–58). Az elemzés ezt a 17 fejezetnyi narratív egységet elhelyezi az enciklopédia zoológiai tárgyú könyveinek, majd a 8. könyvnek a struktúrájában, megállapítja és értelmezi a leírás narratív sajátosságait. Mindezt tágabb összefüggésbe helyezve összeveti a téma legfontosabb előzményével, Aristotelés leírásaival az oroszlánról, illetve kitekint a legfontosabb recepciójára, Ailianos oroszlán-narratíváira. Az irodalmi kontextus mellett fontos szempont a filozófiai háttér: az ember és a természet többi élőlényének viszonyáról kialakított, alapvetően a sztoikus filozófiában gyökerező, a racionalitás-irracionalitás oppozíciójára épített álláspont. Mindennek ismeretében történik meg Plinius oroszlán-narratívájának, valamint az elemzésbe bevont analógiák alapján zoológiájának elhelyezése az antik zoológiai irodalom palettáján.
Creative memory is the dominant feature in the writing process of Nabokov’s prose in general, and that of the novel The Gift in particular. Mnemosyna in Nabokov’s word has many faces, such as memory concrete, creative recollection, mystic-transcendental as well as cultural-reminiscential memory. The concrete memory of an event produces the illusion of lifelikeness; the rest of Mnemosyna’s hypostases weave a magic fabric of artistic endeavour. It can be observed in the specific style of Nabokov’s prose: loyalty to reality of life blended organically with fantasy and irrational-transcendental epiphanies of the artist-demiurge.
The closest of friends in the early eighteen-thirties, Berlioz and Liszt shared artistic aspirations (especially around the latter’s reworkings of the former’s Symphonie fantastique and its sequel, Le Retour à la vie) and personal adventures (especially around the former’s irrational passion for the Irish actress Harriet Smithson and the latter’s efforts at counsel and consolation). These matters are discussed in the context of Berlioz’s private (and I believe insensitive) announcement, in a letter to Liszt sent four days after the marriage, that his new wife had been a virgin.
“Every Russian writer owes something to Gogol.” This Nabokovian statement questions beliefs traditionally formulated in respect to Gogol’s oeuvre. His book paradoxically introduced by the depiction of the writer’s death implies that the motif of death has a specific impact on the genesis of the artefact. The similar postmodernist theory by Terc echoes in part ideas found in the symbolist perception of Gogol (Annensky, Blok, Rozanov, Merezhkovsky, and Andrei Bely). Gogol’s poetics centred upon this principle, reminiscent of Dante’s Divine Comedy, can be traced throughout the works of Russian authors – a thesis to be scrutinised in a series of forthcoming articles. The irrational in Gogol’s views concerning true art thus shall discard the labels of critical realism and art envisaged as the device meant to perfect human society, consequently via the transmutation of the self shall true art fulfil its ultimate mission. Introducing the dichotomy of ‘poet’ – ‘non-poet’ indicates a precursor of the Solovyovian doctrine of the superman. The ideal of transgression is expressed through applying the medieval interpretation of the language distinguishing Dante’s work, offering a profound reading of texts. The poetics of death penetrating Gogol’s works implicates handling and interpreting of various phenomena of culture synthesised, including models of self-perfection realised by alchemy, freemasonry, and Russian sophiology.
The frescoes decorating the stateroom of the Episcopal palace of Szombathely were painted by Franz Anton Maulbertsch in 1783 on commission from bishop János Szily. The lateral walls received scenes from the history of the Roman predecessor of the town Savaria in the form of grisaille murals imitating bronze reliefs. The four paintings – Tiberius Claudius founds Savaria, Septimius Severus is elected emperor, Triumph of Constantinus Chlorus, and Attila chases the Romans out of Pannonia – conjure up the Roman world with a multitude of detail and with historical authenticity. Besides, they also deliberately apply the iconographic and compositional rules of relief sculpture in the Imperial Period. This historicizing rendering is an indicator of the new accent on historism, suggesting the 18th century transformation of the concept of history fed by the recognition of the historical distance between the event and the observer.
The ceiling shows the process of salvation under the governance of Providence. Some elements were borrowed by Maulbertsch from his earlier work in the former library of the Premonstratensian monastery in Louka, Moravia. The theme is the temporal process of the enlightenment of mankind, but the historical examples are replaced here by abstract notions, the time and space coordinates appearing highly generalized. In the middle the allegorical figure of Divine Providence arrives on clouds, with personifications of the Old and New Testaments beneath him suggesting periods in the history of salvation. As a counterpoint to Providence bringing the glimmer of dawn, the Allegory of the Night is depicted at the other end of the ceiling. The two sleeping figures are captives of the lulling power of the fauns symbolizing irrational existence governed by instincts. The pseudo-reliefs and sculptures painted in the corners represent heathenism, the ante legem period of the process of salvation. The medallions show typical episodes of bacchanals of putti, and the grisaille figures most likely repeat motifs of the bacchanal scene in the Louka fresco. The themes of the other three colour frescoes are Europe's apotheosis among the continents, Revelation of the True Religion, and the Apotheosis of Truth in the company of Religion, Humility and the Christian martyrs. It is actually a modernized psychomachy, presenting the victory of Christianity, faith and the virtues over paganism, the instincts and vices. The allegoric groups are witty renderings of conventional formulae.
The rich painted architecture of the ceiling is based on Paul Decker's pattern sheet complemented with neoclassical elements but preserving its irrational character. The illusory architecture, the rivaling lifelikeness of colourful and monochrome figures creates a play of degrees of reality that mobilize the imagination. Maulbertsch's pictorial world can be characterized with the concepts of delicieux and charmant used to describe Mozart's music; his tools of expression convey an ease and serenity that are not light-minded but with the tools of subtle irony and humour invite the viewer for more sophisticated reflections, contrary to the propagandistic allegories.
Dillon, John: The Heirs of Plato: A Study of the Old Academy (347–274 B.C.). Oxford – New York, Oxford University Press, 2003.
Dodds, Eric Robertson: The Greeks and the Irrational. London, University of California