Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The Concept of Sacred in Post-Soviet Literature

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posted on 2021-11-13, 10:54 authored by Cicenaite, Akvilina

Rejecting the prior essentialist assumptions connected with the classical notions of the sacred, this dissertation argues for the redefinition of this concept and its use as an analytical tool. Religion, too, should no longer be held as a privileged space for the emergence of the sacred. The sacred is held not to be a numinous phenomenon experienced privately, a universal term, or of an unchangeable structure. Instead, it is a relative and temporary category constructed through certain cultural practices, which helps us disclose the concepts of meaning, identity and community. Such a redefined notion can be applied when speaking about contemporary culture and literature.  This dissertation presents Russian writer Victor Pelevin as a case study, demonstrating the possibility to speak of the sacred in the seemingly secular post-Soviet milieu. It provides insights into the role of the sacred in his works and introduces new possible approaches towards his writings and his position in Russian literature. Moreover, the analysis of Pelevin’s works shows that this redefined understanding of the sacred is productive not only in his writings, but also in general in the studies of sacrality in the postmodern world, making this post-Soviet sacred a more extensive concept, applicable in a wide variety of contexts.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Religious Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies


Morris, Paul; Buehler, Arthur