Katharine Hodgson "Breaking through the Barriers of Time in a Space under Siege: Olga Berggolts"
The goal of this paper will be to explore the ways in which the multiple narratives of the Leningrad Siege created by Ol′ga Berggol′ts in poetry, diaries, autobiographical prose and in drama evolved over time. In particular it will examine the temporal shaping of the narratives. It is a striking feature of much of the poetry she wrote during the Siege itself that the events of the present are viewed from the perspective of the future (e.g. the motif of the ‘двойная жизнь’ in ‘Fevral′skii dnevnik’, 1942). Equally striking is the narrative principle on which her postwar autobiographical work ‘Dnevnye zvezdy’, which includes extended accounts of the poet’s experiences in besieged Leningrad, which sets aside linear chronology in favour of simultaneity of key moments linked by association (‘наслаждаться всей жизнью – сразу’). A wide spectrum of Berggol′ts’s texts about the Siege will be investigated to establish how far her narratives across different genres move from the dual vision of wartime to the non-linear constellation of key moments in retrospective accounts, and how this might relate to the shifting task of making sense of the Siege in changing circumstances. The paper will attempt to show whether Berggol′ts moves from parallel narratives to convergence, or to increasing diversity and, perhaps, incompatibility.