Snapshots of the Soul
Photo-Poetic Encounters in Modern Russian Culture
Molly Thomasy Blasing
Snapshots of the Soul considers how photography has shaped Russian poetry from the early twentieth century to the present day. Drawing on theories of the lyric and the elegy, the social history of technology, and little-known archival materials, Molly Thomasy Blasing offers close readings of poems by Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetaeva, Joseph Brodsky, and Bella Akhmadulina, as well as by the late and post-Soviet poets Andrei Sen-Sen'kov, Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, and Kirill Medvedev, to understand their fascination with the visual language, representational power, and metaphorical possibilities offered by the camera and the photographic image.
Within the context of long-standing anxieties about the threat that visual media pose to literary culture, Blasing finds that these poets were attracted to the affinities and tensions that exist between the lyric or elegy and the snapshot. Snapshots of the Soul reveals that at the core of each poet's approach to "writing the photograph" is the urge to demonstrate the superior ability of poetic language to capture and convey human experience.