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Expressions of Aesthetic Cosmopolitanism in Latvian Modernist Prose (1930s)



Daugavpils University

Journal Title:

Forum for World Literature Studies


Vol 12, No 3







Latvian literature of the interwar period, the 1920s – 1930s, developed concurrently with European literature, attempting to acquire new ideas and forms of expression and customize the “alien” impulses into “one’s own” cultural and literary space. In the 1930s, modernistic trends in Latvian literature coexisted with those antipodal literary tendencies which belonged to the national ideology-based literature of positivism. The paper is aimed at analysing the expressions of aesthetic cosmopolitanism in the Latvian literature of the 30s of the twentieth century focusing on the works by the representatives of the second generation of modernists for whom irony was one of the most important features of cosmopolitanism. The expressions of aesthetic cosmopolitanism incorporated in Latvian modernists’ prose works are traced via analysing cosmopolitan style. Among various dimensions of cosmopolitan style, the representation of detachment, treatment of the world as a source of pleasures, and cosmopolitan outlooks, experiences, values have been observed. Irony in Latvian modernists’ works of the 1930s is revealed via both allusions to untypical personalities of West European cosmopolitan writers and literary characters — strangers — who are striving to become cosmopolitan. Searching for an innovative form and style, modernists engaged in a “cosmopolitan conversation” with “cosmopolitan aesthetes” preventing the national literature from provincialism. The research has been carried out by applying cultural-historical method, content analysis and structural-semiotic method.

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