The Concept of Sacred in Post-Soviet Literature
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.