Original Research

A semiotic interpretation of national typology: the English, the Boers and ... the Russians (Ivan Goncharov’s Frigate Pallas)

H. Mondry
Literator | Vol 12, No 1 | a750 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v12i1.750 | © 1991 H. Mondry | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 May 1991 | Published: 06 May 1991

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H. Mondry, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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This article examines the text of renowned nineteenth century Russian travellers notes, The Frigate Pallada, by Ivan Goncharov, the author of Oblomov. Using the teachings of Victor Shklovsky, Yurij Tynianov and Yurij Lotman on the role of the genre of travellers notes in the history of Russian literature, the author examines the chapter on the Cape Province. She demonstrates that in his descriptions of the two nations of the Cape Province - the English and the Boers - Goncharov is applying that which is known to him - his own cultural model of the Russian society of the mid-nineteenth century. In his examination of differences between the English and the Boers Goncharov applies the ideological dichotomy between the Slavophiles and the Westernisers. Goncharov, by "inverting" the "dual model of Russian culture" (Lotman & Uspensky, 1984a) draws comparisons between the Russians of the Oblomov Slavophile type on the one hand, and the English on the other hand as the model for the improvement of the industry of the economically backward Russian nation. To Goncharov the Boers resemble the Oblomov, old world side of dichotomy, which by inversions of the dual model can fluctuate between "the good" and "the bad" categories.


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