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Book Chapter

Melancholic Humor, Skepticism and Reflective Nostalgia. Igor’ Guberman’s Poetics of Paradox

  • Laura Salmon

The poetry of Israeli émigré Igor' Guberman, comprising thousands of quatrains (‘gariki’), represents a hybrid genre at the junction of Jewish aphoristic tradition, Russian oral folklore, and classical Russian poetry. The theme of toska, which is central to the gariki, may be sharply distinguished from the ‘restorative nostalgia’ theorized by Svetlana Boym (2001): Guberman's toska is a thoughtful, melancholic, and paradoxical feeling. It expresses a particular variety of skepticism that characterizes the paradoxical humor of the Ashkenazi, the purpose of which is not to ridicule others' shortcomings, but to gently make fun of the sadness and painful absurdity that impermeates human existence. Such melancholic and paradoxical humor permits Guberman to look at life, at himself, even at God, with an indulgent ‘smile of reason’ that is absolutely devoid of arrogance. A subtle melancholic and deep skeptic, Guberman "laughs through his tears", for this is what Russian-Jewish tradition teaches, a lesson that has penetrated deeply and more generally into Russian literature: when the soul is beset by excessive sadness, its has recourse only to laughter.

  • Keywords:
  • Guberman,
  • gariki,
  • paradox,
  • humor,
  • nostalgia,
  • Russian-Jewish literature,
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Laura Salmon

University of Genoa, Italy - ORCID: 0000-0002-2917-7630

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  • Publication Year: 2015
  • Pages: 107-147
  • Content License: CC BY 4.0
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  • Publication Year: 2015
  • Content License: CC BY 4.0
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Chapter Information

Chapter Title

Melancholic Humor, Skepticism and Reflective Nostalgia. Igor’ Guberman’s Poetics of Paradox

Authors

Laura Salmon

Language

English

DOI

10.36253/978-88-6655-822-4.06

Peer Reviewed

Publication Year

2015

Copyright Information

© 2015 Author(s)

Content License

CC BY 4.0

Metadata License

CC0 1.0

Table of Contents

Book Title

Melancholic Identities, Toska and Reflective Nostalgia

Book Subtitle

Case Studies from Russian and Russian-Jewish Culture

Editors

Sara Dickinson, Laura Salmon

Peer Reviewed

Number of Pages

194

Publication Year

2015

Copyright Information

© 2015 Author(s)

Content License

CC BY 4.0

Metadata License

CC0 1.0

Publisher Name

Firenze University Press

DOI

10.36253/978-88-6655-822-4

ISBN Print

978-88-6655-821-7

eISBN (pdf)

978-88-6655-822-4

eISBN (xml)

978-88-9273-384-8

Series Title

Biblioteca di Studi Slavistici

Series Issn ISSN

2612-7687

Series E-Issn

2612-7679

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