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Philosophy and Culture

Representation of the German in the Discursive Field of the Russian Classical Literary Canon

Kuzmina Yuliya Alekseevna

Graduate student, Department of Culturology, Russian State University for the Humanities

109544, Russia, Moscow region, Moscow, 21 Vekovaya str., building 1, 3

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Abstract: The article presents literary, sociological and cultural points of view on the problem of the literary canon, describes the mechanisms of canonization and defines the boundaries of the Russian classics. The author discovers a connection between the texts claiming the status of the canonical hierarchy and the question of ethnicity. The article establishes that the construction of both a national self-portrait and the image of a foreigner (the Other) are the most important functions of the classical canon. The object of this research is a unified discursive field of Russian classical literature. The subject is the generalized image of the German that forms in this field. The author, resorting references to current research practices of discourse analysis, establishes that the portrait of a German is based on such conceptual categories as: 1) the connection with the soil and nature, 2) the connection with roots, 3) reliance on reality and "mundanity", 4) planning, 5) positivism and subordination, 6) perception of life as a mechanism. The construction of the Other creates an opposition to the "Russian" in the structure of the classical text and builds a series of binary pairs: heredity / freedom, stability on the ground / ability to jump, clear planning / dreaminess, legalism / Paschality, self-aggrandizement / self-abasement, godlessness / Orthodoxy. The article reveals that the German hero acts as a constituent of the Other, provoking self-determination and self-identification.


literary canon, classic literature, nation, the Other, mental geography, foreigner, German, Russian, positivism, Easterness

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Today, the concept of a "literary canon" is being actively developed by literary studies, sociology and cultural studies. The starting point in the process of constructing the theory of canonization was a broad definition of the canon, implying "a list, a list, a collection, a set of texts / authors considered exemplary, the most valuable, key to this national literature and / or culture" [1, p. 330]. However, the attention paid by theorists to the structure of the canonical list (a "solid", established and institutionalized center and a flexible, changeable, "blurred periphery" [1, p. 332]) forced them to move away from the view of the canon as a synchronic and unshakable unity towards the study of the diachronic process of its formation. The new optics made it possible to isolate the mechanics of canonization, and the involvement of P. Bourdieu's theory [2] allowed us to consider the relations of the "core" and "periphery" as a reflection of the "hierarchy of cultural values" of society, at the top of which are the representations of elite groups [3]. "In other words, the problem of the canon is the problem of certain elite groups and the institutionalization of their values" [4, p. 67]. The legitimization of the values of the privileged group is carried out based on various institutional practices. I. N. Sukhoi notes among them 1) critical opinions; 2) publishing activities; 3) school and university teaching; 4) historical and literary research; 5) scientific and educational actions [1, pp. 331-332].

Since the described practices transform texts that claim to be "included" in the canon [3], the essential content of the concept is significantly expanded. It begins to mean not only lists of authors and works, but also wellestablished rules of interpretation [4, p. 36], giving the text an "ontological character" [3] and relying on the support of a variety of social institutions, but above all - schools. It is here that both knowledge of the "standardized set of generally recognized authors" [4, p. 39] and a set of acceptable interpretative models are acquired. The canon formed by the school subsequently acts as "evidence of reading" and the norm that society expects from an individual [4, p. 39]. Despite the fact that it is tightly controlled and fixed [4, p. 41], a static "center" and a flexible "periphery" are also distinguished in it. At its core is the "classics" (literature of the XVIII-XIX centuries), on the periphery new and newest literary traditions. The peripheral position of the list of the XX-XXI centuries in the school system generates its frequent changes [1, p. 334]. At the same time, the classical list and models of its acceptable interpretations demonstrate unprecedented stability.

With the assertion of the classical canon, researchers associate 1) the temporary coincidence of the text with the historical period of the empire as "embodied inviolability" [4, p. 16], 2) the desire to unify national experience and the representation of the national whole [4, p. 66], 3) distance from the practical [3], 4) opposition to other groups of literatures (for example, modern) [5, p. 38],[4, p. 28]. The above provisions lead to the conclusion that the classical literary canon also has a two-level structure. Its center becomes the XIX century, while the XVIII century goes to the relative periphery. Also note that the core of the "classics" modeled by researchers is built not around texts, but around the authority of the authors. Thus, the totality of all the works of V. A. Zhukovsky, A. S. Griboyedov, A. S. Pushkin, Y. M. Lermontov, N. V. Gogol, A. N. Ostrovsky, I. S. Turgenev, I. A. Goncharov, N. S. Leskov, N. A. Nekrasov, F. M. Dostoevsky, L. N. Tolstoy, F. I. Tyutchev, A. A. Feta, M. E. Saltykova-Shchedrin and A. P. Chekhov [4, p. 72] are recognized by society as the center of the classical canon, in which the status of the text is determined by the reputation of the surname.

The other is in the discourse of the Russian classical literary canon

At the level of formation (selection of surnames and giving them authority), the classical canon is connected with the question of the nation. "The problem of the literary canon is first of all the problem of the national canon, the canon of national literature. It is designated, discussed, becomes the subject of competition and struggle in a certain socio-historical situation, when initiative cultural groups, candidates for the elite are mobilized to build a national state, represent the national whole, for the development, ordering, codification of national culture" [4, p. 66]. The ways of writing new and interpreting established texts claiming status in the canonical hierarchy, thus, begin to be built around attempts to unify heterogeneous experience and its representation as an integral national identity. Based on the theory of B. Anderson, we can add that to some extent the function of the classical canon is the "imagination" of the nation as an "image of community", because in real everyday life a practical meeting with it "in general" is impossible: "members of even the smallest nation will never know the majority of their fellow-nation, meet with them or even hear about them, while in the minds of each of them lives the image of their community" [6, p. 31].

For these reasons, attempts to construct a national portrait and character become the most important elements of the artistic structure of works of classical literature. One of the mechanics of creating one's own national self-portrait is the introduction into the diegetic space of the text of the figure constituting the Other. E. Said, who made a significant contribution to the development of the theory of othering, demonstrated that "all cultures tend to significantly transform other cultures, perceiving them not as they are, but as they are they should be" [7, p. 106], despite the fact that the most important goal of such a transformation is to build one's own identity [8, p. 192],[9, p. 84],[10, p. 152]. Continuing the research of imaginary geography, L. Wolf also considers the constructed Other as an "auxiliary half" of the Self [11, p. 35], because the description and conceptualization of Oneself are based on opposition with the Other. Similar theoretical constructions can be found in the studies of B. Anderson. In his opinion, it is possible for individuals to imagine themselves as a nation only by realizing the boundaries "beyond which other nations are located." "No nation imagines itself to be commensurate with the whole of humanity" [6, p. 32], and therefore it needs knowledge about the Other.

Thus, constructing the image of a foreigner for the sake of creating a national self-portrait is a natural characteristic of the classical text. It is worth noting that to accomplish this task, Russian authors often resorted to modeling the image of a German. Such statistics are not accidental, because "of the Western European peoples in this period of time, it was with the Germans that the Russians had the most intensive contacts" [10, p. 152]. Russian Russian classical literature's analysis of a single discursive field will reveal the semantic aspects on which the generalized image of the German and his relationship with Russian reality is based. Comparison of the selected characteristics of the foreigner with the attributes of Russian culture and mentality (also constructed) will help to identify the mechanics of the otherization of the German nation within the framework of classical discourse.

Connection with the earth and nature

The construction of the German imagery in the Russian classical literary canon is often built around the metaphor of the earth (soil, mud, clay, underground subsoil and humus). The archetype of humus, "ground" and manure refers to the related theme of nature, vitality and vitality [12]. In a number of texts where the German character is the manager, such a connection is set directly by portrait details. Then the hero appears "in lard, in manure [my italics hereafter], with red-dirty, calloused hands," with a life passing "between rutabaga and potatoes, between the market and the vegetable garden" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 156). As such, Goncharov paints a portrait of Stolz's father, developing the symbolism of the earth in the image of a German who drove his son "to see some clay, which he will take on his finger, sniff, sometimes lick, and give his son a sniff, and explain what it is, what it is good for" (ibid.).

However, most often such a connection is built indirectly through the professional affiliation of the character. So, the type of activity of a German can be associated with factory or factory business, as in Chekhov's Adolf Bruni ("Teacher") or Ivan Shvey ("Good German"), as well as the production / maintenance of agricultural machinery, as in Pectoralis (Leskov, "Iron Will"). The imagery of this type of Germans surrounded by "copper and iron filings" (Gogol, vol. III, p. 37) is also built around the mentioned archetype. The connection of the German masters with the symbolism of the earth was pointed out by G. Gachev: "What is iron? This is the element of "earth", conducted through the element of "fire"," by which he meant industrial industry [13, p. 70]. The imagery of the earth, in this case, is revealed through the deep level of its "bowels". In a similar way, the imagery of Chekhov's Arthur Imbs, a mining master, dreaming of Russian coal ("Mountain coal"), is built up. Note that the motif of the underground depths in conjunction with the "element of fire" develops another theme typical of the Russian classical canon of the connection of the German and the "diabolical obsession, infernal force", where the foreigner appears as a "symbolic infernal being" [14, pp. 130-131].

Also often found in the canon type of professional affiliation of the German, shoe business. Shoemakers were both Pushkin's Gottlieb Schultz ("The Undertaker") and Gogol's Hoffman ("Nevsky Prospekt"). Metaphorically, the symbolism of shoes also refers to the soil and support on the ground. Interestingly, this topic wanders from shoemakers to representatives of other professions. So, formally unrelated to shoes, "tinsmith Schiller" works only on spurs for boots throughout the story. It is also noted that a typical German is "cut as if from shoemaker's leather" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 155), and the "zoological signs" of the nation are such that "there is a shoemaker's abyss in the German general" (Herzen, vol. XIV, p. 149). In addition, the noted motif of support on the ground has the property of transformation the transition from shoes to feet and fixation on the legs when constructing the "German": "In [Gogol's] The Missing Letter, the hero meets funny devils on German legs, and in The May Night, the distiller assumes that a drunken head will write German pretzels with his feet on the road" [15, p. 87].

Finally, the most common German profession in the classical discursive field is doctor. Its representatives were Chekhov's Miller ("At the Bedside"), Ivan Adolfovich ("Belated Flowers"), Von Sterk ("Sufferers"), Gogol's Gibner ("The Inspector"), Dostoevsky's Rutenspitz ("The Double"), as well as a series of unnamed characters that occasionally appear in the structures of classical texts. Zoologists and botanists, such as von Koren, the hero of the story "Duel" by Chekhov, are a private offshoot of this type. In talking about this type, we note, first of all, a direct connection with nature, because such heroes constantly "feel the pulse", "pat" and "tap with a spoon" on the body, that is, they are in direct and close contact with nature and vital forces. However, it is more interesting to pay attention to the perception of the traditionally German professions of doctor and zoologist by "Russians". In statements like "not particularly clean" craft. "He is always digging in different things" (Chekhov, vol. I, p. 357), "they are engaged in ant antennae and cockroach legs" (Chekhov, vol. VI, p. 419) the same motives of the earth and soil, manure and nature are revealed.

Another common profession of tutor and teacher among Germans, at first glance, is not directly related to the topic, but on closer examination it still correlates with it. The collection of books by Karl Ivanovich ("Childhood") consisted of only three books, the first of which was a German brochure "on the watering of vegetable gardens for cabbage" (Tolstoy, vol. I, p. 13). It should be noted that the scientific interests of the Germans, in principle, are often built around this motif. So, Pyotr Ivanovich ("Ordinary History"), it is no coincidence that he offers his nephew to translate "from German important articles about land (i.e. about manure)" [16, p. 128].

The continuation of the theme of vitality and nature is the description of the physicality of the German heroes, saturated with physiological, almost zoological details: "a German like a German is big, very, apparently, healthy" (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 34), "the whole is made up of bones, muscles and nerves, like a blood English horse" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 161), "he was pleased <...> broad shoulders, which served as an obvious proof of his good health and strong build" (Chekhov, vol. VI, p. 393), "a body breathing health", "fat, red-cheeked Rosalia Karlovna" (Chekhov, vol. III, p. 107), "a tall, dense man" (Dostoevsky, vol. I, p. 227), etc.

Nepotism and heredity

The earth and soil are archetypically consonant with the image of the rhizome associated with consanguinity, the aspect of nepotism [See: 10, p. 156] and the nation. "Germanness", thus, is necessarily inherited, and the family and heredity itself are the highest sacred value [10],[17-18]. In the classical canon, the German is represented as a character convinced 1) of the need to continue the track of the fathers, as well as 2) of the absolute mechanism of blood succession and heredity, which does not give failures. The first belief is explicated in such phrases: "he took the track from his grandfather and continued it, as if on a ruler, to his future grandson and was at peace" or "when he himself finished the course of study, his father sent him away from himself.And he sent his son away this is the custom in Germany" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 158), "Mein vater shows a crocodile, mein grosfater shows a crocodile, mein zon will show a crocodile, and I will show a crocodile!" (Dostoevsky, vol. V, p. 206) or "I have an iron will; both my father and my grandfather had an iron will" (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 16). The second is in statements denying the free will of future generations in choosing their fate and predicting the qualities passed on to posterity: "not only I, but my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will bless your memory and will honor it as a shrine" (Pushkin, vol. VI, p. 226), "its harmfulness lies primarily in the fact that it is successful with women and thus threatens to have offspring, that is, to give the world a dozen Laevsky, as frail and perverted as himself" (Chekhov, vol. VI, p. 399), "an iron will, which, in conjunction with Pectoralis' own iron will, was supposed to produce a miracle in posterity" (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 34).

Such beliefs form such psychological features of the German as 1) a sense of duty to the "fathers" in the continuation of the "rut", which develops into responsibility to conditional ancestors, i.e. the nation: "he is ashamed of his nation" (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 68), 2) the sacralization of the hearth, which performs the function of "ahron idyllic microcosm" [10, p. 156],[17-18]. In addition, the indispensable transfer of "Germanism" by inheritance leads to the myth of the homogeneity of an entire nation: "Andrei Antonovich von Lembke belonged to that favored (by nature) tribe, which in Russia is numbered according to the calendar several hundred thousand and which, perhaps, does not know itself what constitutes in it all its mass one strictly organized union" (Dostoevsky, vol. X, p. 241).

Realistic and sustainable

The connection with the soil and the earth is further developed in metaphorical "grounding", a stable reliance on reality, everyday life and everyday life. A similar motive is revealed in the contrast of a Russian who is capable of jumping into the abyss and breaking away from everyday life and a German who remains motionless, who cannot "arm himself with the courage that, closing his eyes, jumps over the abyss or throws himself against the wall at random. He will measure the abyss or the wall, and if there is no sure way to overcome it, he will move away, no matter what they say about him" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 164). The Russians "string bag with a string bag" can "rush into fire and water when necessary," while the "neat and untalented" Germans choose practicality (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 11). Ultimately, such "mundanity" appears as an inability to sensual impulses and passions. Let us recall Stoltz, who "even in the midst of passion felt the ground under his foot," cultivated "restraint from impulses," did not believe "in the poetry of passions" and argued that "the steady and slow burning of fire is better than stormy fires, whatever poetry blazes in them" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 163 Gorenje). Or let's remember the German Rosalia Karlovna ("Nerves"), who is not disposed to sensitivity so much that she took "Vasin's emotional outburst caused by the desire to talk to someone at night for harassment" [19]. The portrait of Schiller, a character in the story "Nevsky Prospekt" by Gogol, also demonstrates the inability of the German to a deep intense experience. The image of Schiller, opposed to the artist Piskarev due to related plot functions, expresses limited mundanity and mediocrity [Cf. Table 1].

Table 1. Functions of artistic characters

funk kci

Piskar ev

Shil ler


passionately in love at first sight

dispassionately spends time with his wife on schedule


admires female beauty

indifferent to female beauty




the ability to rush / land

cut my veins from unhappy love

I wanted to cut off my nose so that
spend less money on tobacco

Planning and calculation

Mundanity and realism are closely related to the desire for 1) planning and ordering, 2) making estimates and schedules. Literally every German, represented by the Russian classical literary canon, has a plan erected into a cult [17, p. 235]: "it was so laid down with me that when I have three thousand thalers, I will do our wedding with Clarinka <...> and when I become the owner, then we will get married exactly as we need to" (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 38), or "you will ride to the provincial town <...> There get three hundred and fifty rubles from Kalinnikov, and leave the horse with him. If he's not there, sell the horse; there's a fair soon: they'll give four hundred rubles and not for a hunter. It will cost you forty rubles to get to Moscow, seventyfive rubles from there to Petersburg; it will be enough. <...> I have some capital; but don't count on it before my death, and I will probably live another twenty years" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 159), or "in two years, when I have the funds and people ready, I will go on an expedition <...> I will walk along the coast from Vladivostok to the Bering Strait and then from the Strait to the mouth of the Yenisei. We will draw a map, study the fauna and flora and thoroughly engage in geology, anthropological and ethnographic research" (Chekhov, vol. VI, p. 410), etc.

Such characteristics are vividly opposed to the portrait of the Russian mentality unfolding within the framework of classical discourse. The plans of Russians are more often destructive and are either connected 1) with financial frauds / crimes (Chichikov, Raskolnikov, Bender), or 2) doomed to unreality (Oblomov, Paradise, Prozorov, Actor), since they are only dreams. The German is afraid of "every dream" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 162), and when voicing plans, he uses not the conditional union "if", but the temporary "when" [17, p. 235], which indicates absolute confidence in achieving the goal.

The consequence of the need to fulfill the plan is prudence and budgeting. A German "will not step a step without calculation" (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 6) and will spend every ruble "with every minute, never dormant control" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 161). Only the hero of the "Iron Will" Pectoralis received a salary supplement, so "immediately sat down at the table and began to calculate something" (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 19). The main characteristic that Tomsky gives to Hermann is the phrase: "Hermann is a German: he is calculating, that's all!" (Pushkin, vol. VI, p. 211). Such prudence is considered by the Russian environment as avarice [14, p. 127], and conviction in achieving the goal is presented as self-confidence, because it does not allow divine intervention [17].

Keep your word

Responsibility to the nation and the desire to achieve the goal "at all costs" lead the German to maniacal in the fulfillment of the promised. The stranger reveals himself to be a person for whom "everything that he once said to himself must be done": "it was necessary, necessary; we had such a condition that I drove without stopping and I drive without stopping. I am a person who always fulfills exactly what he promised" (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 15). Gogol also constructs the manic goal-attainment of the German in the story "Nevsky Prospekt": "since the age of twenty, from the happy time when the Russian lives on fu-fu, Schiller has already measured his whole life and, in no case, did not make an exception. He laid down getting up at seven o'clock, having lunch at two, being precise in everything and being drunk every Sunday. He had set himself within ten years to make up a capital of fifty thousand, and this was already as true and irresistible as fate, because sooner would an official forget to look into his boss's Swiss office than a German would decide to change his word. In no case did he increase his expenses, and if the price of potatoes rose too much against the usual, he did not add a single penny, but only reduced the quantity, and although he sometimes remained somewhat hungry, he nevertheless got used to it. His neatness extended to the point that he put his wife to kiss no more than twice a day, and in order not to kiss her once again, he never put more than one spoonful of pepper in his soup (Gogol, vol. III, pp. 41-42).

It is worth noting that the German "pedantic discharge of duties" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 155) often reached "damage in its very body" (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 22) and was considered by the bearers of Russian culture as narcissism, senseless legalism and pharisaism: "you can circumvent some rule, violate a common custom, disobey the statute. No, these ignoramuses are breaking down, they are pushing on what they are supposed to have, what they will take into their heads, they are ready to break through the wall with their forehead, just to do according to the rules" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 154).

Positivism and Submission

In the literary canon of the second half of the XIX century, the characteristics described above receive a significant expansion. The previously present grounding and realism, the tendency to accuracy, measurements and calculations, the idea that "what has not been analyzed by experience, practical truth" is only an "optical illusion" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 162) are now beginning to reveal the "vaunted German scholarship" [19] in the form of a positivist mental attitude. Both in his professional and personal life, the stranger "looks" at the object "attentively, without blinking, precisely studies" (Chekhov, vol. VI, p. 453), and also creates "a lot of observations and notes" about the surrounding reality (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 18). It is worth noting that such a worldview has been repeatedly interpreted by theorists of the history of science as a system of subordination and violent distortion of the object over which the calculation takes place within the framework of the power discourse [20-21]. The will to explore thus becomes the will to conquer [18, p. 235]. A similar motive in relation to the German characters was repeatedly explicitly uttered: "I will subordinate everything" (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 15), "nature is firm, strong, despotic", (Chekhov, vol. VI, p. 425), "I am used to obey the higher and command the lower" (Turgenev, vol. VIII, p. 270). Thus, the zoologist and positivist von Koren turns into a despot: "first of all, a despot, and then a zoologist" (Chekhov, vol. VI, p. 426), "a typical German doctor [Rutenspitz] turns into a "symbolic executioner" [14, p. 128], and Kluber "expresses claims to nature itself" [10, p. 153] and requires the stream to change its course. In a word, the image of a German is built around his personal requirement that "others and life itself submit to his doctrinaire views religious, ideological, moral or aesthetic" [8, p. 192]. The famous German cleanliness begins to manifest itself as the subordination of the Russian space [8, p. 194],[10, p. 158],[18, p. 238] and its transformation in accordance with a personal plan.

Interestingly, the German's impulse to submission and subjugation is directed not only to the Russian space, language [10, p. 158] and culture, but also to his own subjectivity [18, p. 242]. The German hero, constructed by Russian classical literature, trains personal endurance and discipline, and also differs in the craving to put experiments on himself: "I look at what is being done to me" (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 15). This feature is also beginning to be interpreted as self-praise, in contrast to the typical Russian "self-abasement" [22, p. 173].

Life as a mechanism

All of the above aspects indicate that the German character perceives life as a clear, non-disruptive mechanism. The operation of such a mechanism is ensured by 1) due to the absence of excess: "he did not have any superfluous movements. If he was sitting, he was sitting quietly, if he acted, he used as much facial expressions as was necessary" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 161) and 2) due to the establishment of causal logic in motivation for any actions and the absence of "actions for the sake of actions": "Kluber returned, announced, that lunch would be ready in half an hour, and suggested playing skittles until then, adding that it was very good for appetite" (Turgenev, vol. VIII, p. 283).

The described attitude is vividly manifested in the attitude of the German to people. Statements like "everyone who is poor is to blame for it" (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 51), "in the interests of humanity and in their own interests, such people should be destroyed" (Chekhov, vol. VI, p. 401), "attributed the cause of all suffering to himself" (Goncharov, vol. IV, p. 161) express his conviction that the depth of the human personality is orderly, understandable and rationally comprehended. This attitude sets up oppositional relations with the most important categories of Russian culture: Paschal and grace [See: 23]. In this paradigm, the German appears as a carrier of "rationality" and "law" and opposes the Orthodox picture of the world. No wonder the most important remark of Pectoralis becomes: "We, Dmitry Yerofeyich, do not swear" (Leskov, vol. VI, p. 30). In this regard, it is impossible to pass by his other statement: "I have not had any sins, there are none and cannot be," which, according to Krasilnikova, completely "does not fit into the Orthodox tradition, since an Orthodox cannot conceive of himself without sin" [22, p. 172].


The image of the German created by the Russian literary canon is based on such conceptual categories as: 1) connection with nature and soil, 2) connection with roots, 3) reliance on reality and "mundanity", 4) planning, 5) positivism and submission, 6) perception of life as a mechanism. In the structure of classical literary discourse, the German character plays the role of the constitutive Other, creating such characteristics of oppositional relations with the self of the "Russian". Thus, a series of binary pairs is built, constructing both nations. Among them: heredity conditioning / freedom, stability on the ground / the ability to jump, clear planning / dreaminess, legalism / paschality, self-aggrandizement / self-abasement, godlessness / Orthodoxy.

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The author presented his article "Representation of the German in the discursive field of the Russian classical literary canon" to the journal "Philosophy and Culture", in which a study was conducted on ways to model the image of a foreigner in order to create an image of a national character. The author proceeds in studying this issue from the fact that the classical canon is connected with the question of the nation, and, consequently, attempts to construct a national portrait and character become the most important elements of the artistic structure of works of classical literature. Russian Russians had the most intensive contacts with Germans during the period of writing the works that make up an important layer, the core of Russian classics, the author explains the choice of the subject of the study, i.e., the representative of the German nation. Unfortunately, it is difficult to conclude from the research materials about the relevance, scientific novelty and practical significance of the study. The theoretical basis was the works of such researchers as E.V. Said, M. Foucault, P. Bourdieu, O.S. Krasilnikova, V.S. Abramova, E.I. Kanarskaya and others. The empirical material was the works of V.A. Zhukovsky, A.S. Griboyedov, A.S. Pushkin, Y.M. Lermontov, N.V. Gogol, A.N. Ostrovsky, I.S. Turgenev, I.A. Goncharov, N.S. Leskov, N.A. Nekrasov, F.M. Dostoevsky, L.N. Tolstoy, F.I. Tyutchev, A.A. Feta, M.E. Saltykova-Shchedrin and A.P. Chekhov. The methodological basis was made up of an integrated approach, including general scientific methods of analysis and synthesis, as well as comparative, content analysis and artistic analysis of the text. Russian Russian literature The aim of the work is to identify the semantic aspects on which the generalized image of the German and his relationship with Russian reality is based by analyzing the unified discursive field of Russian classical literature. To achieve this goal, the author sets the task of comparing the selected characteristics of a foreigner with the attributes of Russian culture and mentality, which will help identify the mechanics of the otherization of the German nation within the framework of classical discourse. The author reveals the essence of the phenomenon of the literary canon as a list, a list, a collection, a multitude of texts / authors considered exemplary, the most valuable, key to a given national literature and /or culture, which allows to form and legitimize a system of values. As the author notes, the classical literary canon has a two-level structure. The XIX century becomes its center, while the XVIII century goes to the relative periphery. The core of the "classics" modeled by the researchers is built not around texts, but around the authority of the authors. Russian Russian classical works have been analyzed in detail and the author comes to the conclusion that the image of the German created by the Russian literary canon is based on such conceptual categories as: 1) connection with nature and soil, 2) connection with roots, 3) reliance on reality and "mundanity", 4) planning, 5) positivism and subordination, 6) perception of life as a mechanism. In the structure of classical literary discourse, the German character plays the role of the constitutive Other, creating such characteristics of oppositional relations with the self of the "Russian". Thus, the author builds a series of binary pairs that construct both nations. Among them: heredity conditioning / freedom, stability on the ground / the ability to jump, clear planning / dreaminess, legalism / Paschality, self-aggrandizement / self-abasement, godlessness / Orthodoxy. In conclusion, the author presents a conclusion on the conducted research, which contains all the key provisions of the presented material. It seems that the author in his material touched upon relevant and interesting issues for modern socio-humanitarian knowledge, choosing a topic for analysis, consideration of which in scientific research discourse will entail certain changes in the established approaches and directions of analysis of the problem addressed in the presented article. The results obtained allow us to assert that the study of the influence of literary works on the formation of the national character and value system of a certain culture is of undoubted theoretical and practical cultural interest and can serve as a source of further research. The material presented in the work has a clear, logically structured structure that contributes to a more complete assimilation of the material. An adequate choice of methodological base also contributes to this. The bibliographic list of the study consists of 23 sources, which seems sufficient for the generalization and analysis of scientific discourse on the subject under study. The author fulfilled his goal, received certain scientific results that allowed him to summarize the material. It should be noted that the article may be of interest to readers and deserves to be published in a reputable scientific publication.