THE ORIGIN OF PLOT
IN THE LIGHT OF TYPOLOGY


JURIJ M. LOTMAN


Russian Literature & Semiotics,
Tartu University, Estonian SSR

The question of the origin of plot can be posed both as a historical and as a typological problem. The first aspect has been considered many times, and here we are in possession of certain accepted fundamental ideas and some extremely probable hypotheses. As regards the second question the matter is, unfortunately, considerably more complex.
The origin of plot is a question which by no means concerns only art; but it is precisely artistic texts with a plot which are one of the phenomena of human civilization most in need of explanation. The observer external to all earthly cultures would probably experience considerable difficulty in explaining the existence of the enormous number of texts relating events which are known not to have taken place. The number of works of this kind contradicts any essential social function which we might ascribe to them. A researcher's caution would suggest that it might be more reasonable to question not the essential nature of artistic plot-texts, but our ability to determine in what that essential nature lies.
To initiate our typological analysis we can presuppose the existence of two essentially contradictory types of text.
At the center of the cultural massif there is a textual mechanism for engendering myths. The chief particularity of the texts it creates is their subjection to cyclical-temporal motion (Lvi-Strauss, 1968-: 102-106). Texts created in this way are not, in our sense of the word, plot-texts and, in general, could only be described with great difficulty by means of our usual categories. Their first characteristic is the absence of the categories of beginning and end: the text is thought of as I a mechanism which constantly repeats itself, synchronized with the cyclical processes of nature: the seasons of the year, the hours of the day, the astral calendar. Human life is regarded not as a linear segment

*First published in Stat'i po tipologii kul'tury, 2, Tartu, 1973: 9-41. Translated by Julian Graffy, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, London University.

enclosed between birth and death, but as a constantly recurrent cycle ("You die - you start again from the beginning" as in Blok's poem "Noch', Ulitsa, Fonar', Apteka"). In this case, the story can start from any point which fulfils the role of beginning for the given narration. Such a narration does not aim to inform any particular reader of something of which he is unaware; rather it is a mechanism which ensures the continual flow of the cyclical processes in nature itself. Thus the choice of one or another plot episode from the text as the beginning and content of today's narration does not belong to the narrator; rather it comprises a part of a chronologically secure ritual, conditioned by the course of the natural cycle.
Another peculiarity linked to cyclical structure is the tendency to make different characters unconditionally identical. The cyclical world of mythological texts creates a multi-layered mechanism with clearly manifested features of topological organization. This means that such cycles as the day, the year, the cyclical chain of life and death of man or god, are considered as mutually homomorphous. Thus although night, winter and death are in some respects dissimilar, their close identification is not a metaphor as the consciousness of today would interpret it. They are one and the same thing (or rather, transformations of one and the same thing). Characters and objects mentioned at different levels of the cyclical mythological mechanism are different proper names for the same thing. The mythological text, owing to its exceptional ability to undergo topological transformations, can with surprising boldness declare to be one and the same thing phenomena which we would have considerable difficulty in comparing.
The topological world of myth is not discrete. As we shall endeavor to demonstrate, discreteness arises here because of the inadequate translation into discrete meta-languages of a non-mythological type.
This central text-forming mechanism fulfils a very important function - it constructs the picture of the world, establishes unity between its remote spheres, in essence realizing a number of the functions of science in pre-scientific cultural formations. Orientation towards the establishment of iso- and homo-morphisms and the reduction of the diversity and variety of the world to invariant images allowed texts of this kind functionally to occupy the place of science, as well as to stimulate a series of cultural achievements of a purely scientific type as, for example, in the field of calendars and astronomy. The functional relationship of these systems can be clearly traced through the study of the sources of Ancient Greek science.
Texts engendered by the central text-forming mechanism played a classifying, stratifying and regulating role. They reduced the world of excesses and anomalies which surrounded man to norm and system. Even if in' the re-telling in our language these texts seem to be plot-texts, in themselves they were not such. They dealt not with phenomena which happened once and without reference to natural laws, but with events which were timeless, endlessly reproduced and, in that sense, motionless. Even if the narration concerned the death of a god, the dismemberment of his body, and his subsequent resurrection, what we have before us is not a plot-narration in our sense. These events are thought of as inherent to a certain position in the cycle, and repeating themselves from time immemorial. The regularity of the repetition makes of them not an excess, a chance occurrence, but a law, immanently inherent to the world.
The central, cyclical, text-generating mechanism could not be typologically unique. It needed as contracting party a text-generating mechanism organized in accordance with linear temporal motion and fixing not laws but anomalies. Such were oral tales about "incidents," "news," various happy and unhappy excesses. If the one mechanism fixed the principle, the other described the chance occurrence. If historically from the first there developed statutory and normative texts of both a sacral and a scientific character, the second gave rise to historical texts, chronicles and annals.
The fixing of unique and chance events, crimes, calamities - anything considered the violation of a certain primordial order - was the historical kernel of plot-narration. It is not fortuitous that the elementary basis of artistic narrative genres is called the "novella," that is to say the "piece of news" and - something which has been remarked upon repeatedly - that it has a basis in anecdote.
In passing one should note the difference in principle in the pragmatic nature of these primordially opposed types of text. In the world of mythological texts, because of the spatio-topological laws of its construction, it is above all the structural laws of homomorphism which stand out: relationships of equivalence are established between the disposition of the heavenly bodies and the parts of the human body, the structure of the year and the structure of age, etc. This leads to the creation of an elementary semiotic situation: each message must be interpreted, must be translated through transformation into signs of a different level. Inasmuch as the microcosm of man's internal world and the macrocosm of the surrounding universe are identified, any narrative about external events can be perceived as having an intimate personal relevance to anyone in the audience. Myth always speaks about me. "News," an anecdote, speaks about somebody else. The- first organizes. the hearer's world, the second adds interesting details to his knowledge of this world.
The modern plot-text is the fruit of the interaction and reciprocal influence of these. two typologically age-old types of text. Yet the process of their interaction, for the very reason that it took place in real historical space and over an enormous length of time, could not be simple or uniform.
The destruction of the cyclical-temporal mechanism of texts, (or, at least, the sharp decrease of the sphere of its functioning) led to the mass translation of mythological texts into the language of discrete- linear systems (verbal re-tellings of myth-rituals and myth-mysteries should be considered as translations of this kind) and to the creation of those novelistic pseudo-myths which first come to mind at the mention of mythology.
The first and most perceptible result of such a translation was the loss of the isomorphism between levels of text. As a result the characters at different levels were no longer perceived as different names for a single person; they broke up into a great number of figures. Multi-heroed texts came into being, a phenomenon that was in principle impossible in texts of an authentically mythological type. Inasmuch as the transition from cyclical to linear construction involved such a profound reconstruction of the text, in comparison with which the variations of all kinds which took place in the course of the historical evolution of plot-literature no longer seem fundamental, it is not so vitally important what we use for the reconstruction of the mythological prototype of the text - ancient re-tellings of myth or nineteenth-century novels. Sometimes the most recent texts give an even more convenient basis for such reconstructions.
The most obvious result of the linear unfolding of cyclical texts is the appearance of character-doubles. From Menander, Alexandrine drama and Plautus up to Cervantes, Shakespeare and - through Dostoevsky - to the novels of the twentieth century (cf. the system of character-doubles in Gorky's Klim Samgin) the tendency continues to provide the hero with a double-companion, and sometimes with a whole paradigm-cluster of companions. In Shakespeare's play, The Comedy of Errors, we encounter the quadrilateral: twin heroes whose servants are also twins.

Antipholus of    -----------------     Antipholus of
                     Ephesus                             Syracuse
                                I                                  I
                 Dromio of      -----------------    Dromio of
                   Ephesus                             Syracuse

It is obvious that we are dealing here with a case where four characters in a linear text would in the event of reverse translation into a cyclical system "be precipitated" into one character: the identity of twins, on the one hand, and of a pair of comic and "noble" doubles, on the other, would naturally lead to this. The appearances of doubles - the result of splintering a cluster of mutually equivalent names - later became a plot-language which could be interpreted in very different ways in different ideo-artistic models - either as material for the creation of intrigue (Frejdenberg, 1973: 497-512) or the contrasted combination of characters, or the modelling of the inner complexity of a particular human personality in the works of Dostoevsky.
As an example of the intrigue-forming action of this process let us consider Shakespeare's comedy As You Like It.
The characters in the comedy can be divided into clearly equivalent pairs, who upon (conditional) reverse translation into cyclical time, mutually roll up, forming, in the final analysis, a single character. The list is headed by two personages - the ducal brothers, one of whom lives "in the forest" while the other rules, having usurped his brother's dominions. The characters living "at court" or "in the forest" are related to each other by the principle of complementary distribution: the transference of one of them from the forest to the court provokes the immediate reverse transference of another. Obviously they cannot meet at one and the same time in one and the same environment. But inasmuch as transference "into the forest" and return is the usual mythological (and later fairy-tale) formula for death and resurrection, it is obvious that in mythological space these doubles make up a single image.
But the juxtaposition of the two ducal brothers is on 'another level doubled in the antithesis between Oliver and Orlando, the elder and younger sons of Sir Rowland de Boys. Like the reigning Duke, Oliver is the usurper of his brother's inheritance and banishes him to the forest (the parallel between Duke Frederick and Oliver runs -very clearly through the text of the comedy). The fact that the line which separates "court" from "forest" is a boundary beyond which mythological regeneration begins from the instantaneous transformation of both villains, once they cross this boundary, into virtuous heroes:
Jacques:
Duke Frederick, hearing how that every day
Men of great worth resorted to this forest,
Address'd a mighty power, which were on foot
In his own conduct, purposely to take
His brother here and put him to the sword:
And to the skirts of this wild wood he came,
Where, meeting with an old religious man,
After some questions with him, was converted
Both from his enterprise and from the world;
His crown bequeathing to his banish'd brother
(V, iv, 160-169)
Oliver undergoes the same change:
Oliver:
'Twas I; but 'tis not I. I do not shame
To tell you what I was, since my conversion
So sweetly tastes, being the thing I am.
(IV, iii, 136-138)
Thus a quadrilateral is formed in which the characters on a horizontal are one and the same hero at different moments of his plot-movement (unfolding the plot on a linear scale), and those on a vertical are different projections of one character.

                Court                                 Forest
                 Duke Frederick-----------------------  The old duke, living

                        I                                  in exile

                 Oliv   le Boys-----------------------  Orlando 'de Boys

But parallelism of images is not limited to this: the female characters clearly represent hypostases of the basic heroes: the daughters of the two dukes, Rosalind and Celia, given the reverse cyclical transformation of the plot, would obviously form a single central image as its name-hypostases. The basic plot subdivision on this level undergoes a significant transformation; both girls go off "into the wood" (one is banished, the other goes voluntarily), but at this they undergo transformations: they change their clothes (Rosalind also undergoes a change of sex, dressing as a boy) and they change their names - a typical detail of mythological transformation.
          Rosalind  ---------------------------   Celia
                                           I                                     I
                       Ganymede   ---------------------------   Aliena

A new system of equivalences begins with the setting in motion of the love intrigue; we are presented with a clear system of parallelisms, and moreover the dual nature of the boy-girl Ganymede (underlined also by the ambiguous name) creates the basis for new mythological identifications, perceived, on the level of the Shakespearean text, as comic confusion.
     Orlando  --------------------  Rosalind

     Oliver   --------------------  Celia

     Ganymede --------------------  Phebe

     Silvius  --------------------  Phebe

     Touchstone-------------------  Audrey

     William   -------------------  Audrey

All these pairs of characters clearly repeat one and the same situation and the same type of relationship, on various levels, mutually duplicating each other. Even the clown has a double in the form of an even more lowly character - the village fool. "Oliver - Celia" is the lower duplication of "Orlando - Rosalind" (in the invariant schema the first pair can be reduced to Frederick, the second to his banished brother); the quadrilateral "Ganymede - Phebe - Phebe- Silvius" is a lower variant of all of them, and the third quadrilateral "Touchstone - Audrey - Audrey - William" has the same relationship to the second. Ultimately all the remotely important characters in the comedy can be reduced to a single image in cyclical space.
Mention should be made of one more character who is contrasted with all the other characters in the comedy, Jacques the melancholic. He alone is excluded from the intrigue and does not return from the forest with the old duke, but remains in the same spatial situation, by now in the company of the voluntary exile Frederick. He also has the most clearly expressed character: he is a constant critic of the human world beyond the confines of the forest. Inasmuch as "the court" and "the forest" form an asymmetrical space of the type "earthly world" - "world beyond the grave" (in myth), "real world" - "ideal fabulous world" (in Shakespeare), a character of Jacques's type is essential in order to orientate the artistic space. He alone does not merge with any character who moves through the plot-space, but represents a personified spatial category, the embodiment of the relationship of one world to the other. It is not fortuitous that he is the only character not to cross the frontier between the worlds of "court" and "forest."
One might suggest that doubles represent only the most elementary and obvious product of the linear paraphrase of the hero of a cyclical text. In fact the very appearance of different characters is the result of the same process. It is not difficult to notice that characters can be divided into those who are mobile, who enjoy freedom with regard to plot-space, who can change their place in the structure of the artistic world and cross the frontier, the basic topological feature of this space, and those who are immobile, who represent, in fact, a function of this space (Nekljudov, 1966; Lotman, 1970: 280-289).
Looked at typologically, the initial situation is that a certain plot-space is divided by a single boundary into an internal and an external sphere, and a single character has the opportunity to cross that ,boundary; this situation is now replaced by a more complex derivative. The mobile character is split up into a paradigm-cluster of different characters on the same plane, and the obstacle (boundary), also multiplying in quantity, gives out a sub-group of personified obstacles - immobile enemy-characters fixed at particular points in the plot-space ("antagonists" to use Propp's term). As a result of this the plot-space is "populated" by numerous variously linked and contrasted heroes. This leads to a certain particular conclusion: the more noticeably the world of the characters is reduced to singularity (one hero, one obstacle), the nearer it, is to the primordial mythological type of structural organization of the text. It is impossible not to notice that lyric poetry with its reduction of plot to the schema: "I - he (she)" or "I - you," turns out to be, from this point of view, the most ,'mythological" of the genres of modern verbal art. This assumption is corroborated by other features such as the pragmatic qualities of mythological texts noted above. It is natural that lyric poetry is more profoundly and more naturally perceived by the reader as a model of his own personality than are epic genres.
Another fundamental result of this process is the distinctiveness and marked modelling function of the categories of beginning and end of the text.
The text which had separated itself from ritual and acquired independent verbal existence automatically acquired in its linear disposition a marked beginning and end. In this sense eschatological texts should be considered the first evidence of the disintegration of myth and the elaboration of narrative plot.
The elementary sequence of events in myth can be reduced to a chain: entry into closed space - emergence from it (this chain is open at both ends and can be endlessly multiplied). Inasmuch as closed space can be interpreted as "a cave," "the grave," "a house," "woman," (and, correspondingly, be allotted the features of darkness, warmth, dampness) (Ivanov & Toporov, 1965), entry into it is interpreted on various levels as "death," "conception," "return home" and so on; moreover all these acts are thought of as mutually identical. The birth-resurrection consequent upon death-conception is linked with the fact that birth is thought of not as the act of the emergence of a new, previously non-existent personality, but as the renewal of one which has already existed. To the same degree in which conception is identified with the death of the father, so birth is identified with his return. This point in particular makes it obvious that not only synchronic character-doubles, but also diachronic ones like "father - son" represent the subdivision of a single or cyclical text-image. The fact that all the brothers Karamazov are one another's doubles and their common relationship with Fedor Karamazov according to the schema "degradation - rebirth," their complete identity or contrasting opposition is convincing evidence of the stability of this mythological model.
The mythological origin of plot-doubles is obviously linked to the redistribution of the borders of textual segmentation, and of the features of identity and difference of the central actor.
In cyclical myths arising on this basis it is possible to determine the order of events, but not to establish the temporal limits of the narration: each death is followed by rebirth and rejuvenation, which in turn are followed by ageing and death. The transition to eschatological narration entailed the linear development of plot. This immediately transferred the text into the categories of narrative genre familiar to us. The action, enclosed in linear temporal movement, was constructed as narration about the gradual enfeeblement of the world (the ageing of a god) after which came his death, dismemberment, torture, eating, burial, (the last two are synonymous in the sense of insertion into enclosed space), and resurrection, which portended the destruction of evil and its final eradication. In this way the intensification of evil was c onnected with the movement of time, and its disappearance with the destruction of this movement, with universal and eternal stasis. In this case another feature of the destruction of the primordial mythological structure is the collapse of the relationships of isomorphism. Thus, for example, from an action identical to burial (and also to torture, dismemberment, which on the one hand was linked with the chewing and tearing apart of food, and, on the other, was, for example, identical to the tortures in the course of an initiation ceremony, which was also a new kind of death), the eucharist turned into a sign.
In eschatological legend we can consider the fact that the clearly marked end of the text does not yet coincide with the biological end of the hero's life - his death - to be traces of myth. Death (or its equivalents: departure, and staying in an unknown place, which must be followed by a new "appearance" of the hero, a miraculous dream in a mysterious place, a cliff or a cave, ending with awakening and return, etc.) is situated in the middle of the narration, and not at its conclusion. A certain observation is relevant here: if we accept the idea that eschatological legend is the product of a linear paraphrase that is typologically closest to myth (and, probably, historically the earliest) then we must conclude that the obligatory happy ending which we find in the fairy tale is not merely the initial form of narration with a sharply defined category of ending, but, at a certain stage, the only form which does not have the structural alternative of a tragic ending. By its very nature the eschatological ending can only be the final triumph of the principle of good and the censure and punishment of evil., The "happy" and "unhappy" endings with which we are familiar are secondary to it as the realization or non-realization of this primordial schema.
'The category of "beginning" was not so marked in the texts of eschatological legends, although it too was expressed in the forms of standard introductions and set situations, linked to the concept of the existence of a certain ideal initial state, its consequent spoiling and final reinstatement.
"Beginnings" were considerably more marked in culturally peripheral texts of the chronicle type. The indication of "who started first," or "what it all began with" in the description of some excess might strike the contemporary reader as the establishment of a causal link. The important modelling role of the category of beginning is clearly apparent in The Tale of Bygone Years,' which in essence represented a collection of tales about beginnings - the beginning of the Russian land, the beginning of princely power, the beginning of the Christian faith in Russia and so on. It is primarily from this point of view, also, that the chronicler is interested in crime. The significance of an action is revealed by the indication of who first carried out a similar action (thus the censure of fratricide by reference to Cain). In The Lay of Igor's Campaign,2 the attitude to Igor's self-willed campaign is formulated as a reference to the initiator of such internecine wars, Oleg Goreslavich (this is underlined by the fact that Oleg is the blood "initiator" of the line of Igor).
The translation of a mythological text into linear narrative raised the possibility of the reciprocal influence of two diametrically opposed types of text - the one describing the regular course of events, and the other, chance deviations from that course. This interaction determined in large measure the later fates of the narrative genres.
Temporal death as a form of transition from one state into another, higher, one is encountered in an extremely wide number of texts and rituals. Among the latter we must consider the whole complex of initiation rites (Propp, 1946), such religious procedures as receiving the tonsure or taking the habit being consecrated as a shaman. As a rule death is here associated with tearing the body to bits, or cutting it into pieces, with burial or eating of the pieces and with consequent resurrection. Propp, citing a large number of sources, in particular N.P. Dyrenkova's "The Attitudes of the Turkish Tribes to the Receipt of the Gift of Shamanism," remarks: "the sensation of having one's body torn apart or cut into pieces, of the picking over of one's insides, is a necessary condition of Shamanism and precedes the moment when a man becomes a Shaman" (Propp, 1946: 80). In the same place Propp cites a large number of reports that the revelation of the gift of prophecy is preceded by the perforation of the tongue, the ears, the introduction of a snake into the body and so on.
When the aforementioned rituals are examined in a wide mythological. context (Propp, Eliade, and so on), it is not particularly difficult to establish their content correlation to the single mythological invariant "life death - resurrection (renewal)" or, on a more The Tale of Bygone Years (The Primary Chronicle): the earliest Russian chronicle compilation (beginning of the twelfth century). (Trans.) 2 The Lay of Igor's Campaign: the most famous work of mediaeval Russian literature (twelfth century). (Trans.) abstract level: "entry into enclosed space - emergence from it." What is not easily explained is something else: the stability of this schema even in cases where a direct link with the world of myth has been consciously broken. When Pushkin in "The Prophet" gave an exceptionally precise and detailed picture of acquiring the gift of Shamanism (that is to say prophecy) - and one which has now received confirmation in a wide variety of texts - right down to such details as the insertion into the mouth of "a small snake which embodies magical powers" (Propp, 1946: 79), he did not know the sources which the modern ethnographer has at his disposal. In the same way we can understand his poem without calling to mind the parallels from the prophet Isaiah and from the Koran which probably were the closest sources for the images of initiation in "The Prophet" (see Old Testament, Isaiah 6; Kashtaleva, n.d.; Chernjaev, 1898).
To appreciate Pushkin's text it is no more necessary to know of the link between its images and rituals of initiation (or consecration as Shaman) than it is necessary for our ability to speak a language to know about the origin of its grammatical categories. Such knowledge is useful, but it is not a minimal condition for the understanding of the text. The hidden mytho-ritual carcass has turned into a formal grammatical foundation for the construction of a text about the death of the "old" man and the re-birth of the clairvoyant.
We find this double process - on the one hand the forgetting of the content side of the initiation complex to the point of its complete formalization and consequent transformation into something not consciously felt by the reader (not perhaps even by the author), and yet on the other, the presence of this, now unconscious, complex of ideas - most conspicuously in Alberto Moravia's novel Disobedience. The story concerns a modern youth's growth into manhood. The novel touches upon modern questions of youthful rebellion, of rejection of the world, and the tormented transition from rebellious egotism and the cult of self-destruction to the open acceptance of life. Yet the plot movement is structured according to an ancient schema: the end of childhood (the end of the first life) is marked by a constantly increasing attraction to death, a conscious breaking of the ties linking the hero to the world, (rebellion against his parents, against the bourgeois world, turns into rebellion against life as such). This is followed by a lengthy illness which brings the hero to the point of death and is an unambiguous substitute for it (the pages describing the dying youth's delirium are equivalent to the "descent into the world beyond the grave" in mythological texts). The first involvement with a woman (the sick boy's nurse) signifies the beginning of the return to life, a move from nihilism and rebellion to acceptance of the world, to new birth. This clearly mythological schema, reproducing the classical contours of initiation, culminates in the expressive final image of the 172 JURIJ LOTMAN novel: the train, in which the young man is traveling to a mountain sanatorium after his recovery, plunges into the dark hole of a tunnel and then bursts out from it into open space. The two ends of the tunnel correspond very precisely to the most ancient mythological concept of entry into darkness, gloom or a cave as death, and emergence into the light as subsequent re-birth.
We have already remarked that the archaic structures of thought have lost their content in the modern consciousness, and in this respect can easily be compared with the grammatical categories of language which form the syntactical basis of large narrative blocks of text. Nevertheless, as we know, the artistic text is subject to constant alteration: that which in language has already lost its independent semantic meaning may undergo secondary semanticization and vice versa. Connected with this is the secondary revival of mythological narrative processes which cease to be mere formal organizers of textual coherence and accumulate new senses which often take us back, either consciously or unwillingly, to myth.3 We see a revealing example of this in the Moravia novel described above. The fact that the image suggested by modern I A feature of the conscious orientation towards myth in Moravia's novel is the kind of death chosen by the youth in his thirst for self-destruction: he does not think of suicide - there arises in his consciousness the image of his being torn apart and of his body being eaten by wild animals. In the novel this is psychologically based on the tales he has heard since his childhood about a murdered young man who, according to the boy, is buried near a menagerie, and on the books about Christian martyrs, etc.; nevertheless we encounter no difficulty here in recognizing one of the universal motifs of death in myth (being torn apart or being eaten). Cf: "The tearing apart of the human body plays an enormous role in very many religions and myths, and it plays a large role in fairy-tales as well" (Propp, 1946: 80). Ethnography offers a great deal of material concerned with the fact that dismemberment is followed by burial in the ground (the simultaneous burial and sowing of the field - cf. Burn's famous ballad "John Barleycorn," where torture, burial in the ground and cooking in a cauldron are merely the portents of rebirth, and where a three-layered plot structure is created: the archaeo-mythical layer, the fairy-tale layer - the war of the "three kings against John," and the third layer embodying the poetry of agricultural labor - the sowing of the field, or swallowing). Both of these are isomorphous to conception, and are naturally followed by sprouting or spitting out, which represent a new and more perfected birth. Thus, Eliade cites the African myth about the giant Ngakola, who ate and spat out people. This myth lies at the basis of the initiation rite of the tribes in question. It is not without interest that in Moravia the departure of the hero from the life and world of childhood, his parents and property, takes the form of tearing money into pieces and burying them in the ground (this sacrificial act is preceded by the revelation that in his parents' room behind the picture of the Madonna before which for many years the child was forced to pray is hidden a safe full of bank notes). Thus the extremely archaic plot of the overthrow of an old god, his dismemberment and the sowing of the parts of his body into the earth, which is followed by the renewal of both god and man, the beginning of a "new life," becomes a language in which the writer narrates about acutely modern collisions. technology ("train - tunnel") is constructed as a suggestive expression of the most archaic mythological complex (transition into a new state as death and re-birth; the chain: "death - sexual relations - re-birth"; entry into darkness and emergence from it as invariant model of all transformations) - is profoundly indicative of the mechanism whereby the mythological layer in the structure of modern art is activized.
If we consider the central and peripheral spheres of culture as certain organized texts, we can observe their various types of inner mechanism.
The central myth-making mechanism of culture is organized as topological space. With projection onto the axis of linear time and from the province of ritual play-action into the sphere of the verbal text, it undergoes important changes: in assuming linearity and discreteness, it acquires the characteristics of a verbal text constructed on the principle of a sentence. In this sense it becomes comparable with the entirely verbal texts arising on the periphery of culture. Yet it is precisely this comparison which makes it possible to discover some very profound differences: the central sphere of culture is constructed on the principle of an integrated structural whole, a sentence; the peripheral sphere is organized as a cumulative chain, simply by the accretion of structurally independent entities. This kind of organization is most apposite to the function of the former as a structural model of the world and of the latter as a kind of archive of excesses.
Both groups of texts have their corresponding conception of the universum as a whole.
The law-forming center of culture, genetically arising from the original mythological nucleus, reconstructs a completely regulated world, equipped with a single plot and a higher meaning. Although it is represented as a text or a group of texts, in the general system of culture they play the role of a normalizing mechanism, situated on a meta-level in relation to all the other texts of the given culture. All the texts of this group are organically linked, a feature which emerges through their natural ability to be reduced to a single sentence. Inasmuch as this sentence is linked in content to eschatological concepts, the world-picture which it engenders alternates a tragic tension of the plot with a final establishment of calm.
The system of the peripheral texts reconstructs a world-picture in which chance and lack of order are dominant, This group of texts also turns out to be capable of transference to a meta-level, but it cannot be reduced to any single organized text. Inasmuch as the plot elements of the texts which comprise this group will be excesses and anomalies, the general world-picture will appear extremely disorganized. Its negative pole will be realized in narrations about tragic events, each of which will represent a certain violation of order, that is to say, in this world the most probable thing will paradoxically turn out to be the most improbable. The positive pole is manifested as miracle - the resolution of tragic conflicts in the least expected and least probable way. Nevertheless, in the absence of general textual regularity, the beneficial miracle in this group of texts is never a finality. Consequently the world-picture created here is usually chaotic and tragic.
Despite the fact that we can establish the relative orientation of each specific culture to this or that text-generating mechanism, or this or that group of texts, in this particular case we can only speak of self-orientation, inasmuch as in the real mechanism of a culture we assume the existence of both centers, their mutual tension and interaction. Fighting for the dominant position in the hierarchy of a given culture, each of these groups affects its contracting party; each one strives to define itself as a text of higher rank and to confine its rival to the position of a partial manifestation of itself on a lower textual level. If examples of the disposition of regulated texts on the highest structural level of culture are trivial - they can be illustrated in philosophy in a series of systems from Plato to Hegel and in the area of the theory of science, for example, in the concepts of Saussure, then the opposite kind of construction is linked, for example, with the world-picture of Wiener with its universal and advancing entropy, from the point of view of which information is just a chance local episode. When the dying Tjutchev asked "to let in a little light around him," he was expressing the conviction which he had sustained throughout his life that the world is chaotically disordered, and that light, reason and law are just chance and unstable local forms of the "play of disorders." According to Tjutchev man is situated on the border between these two inimical worlds, belonging in his natural essence to the world of chaos, and intellectually to what is alien to nature, to logos:
Vot ot chego, s prirodoj sporja, Dusha ne to poet, chto more, I ropshchet mysljashchij trostnik. [That is why. arguing with nature, The soul sings differently from the sea, And the thinking reed grumbles.]
The argument between the causal-determinist and the probability approaches in twentieth-century theoretical physics is an example taken from the sphere of science of the conflict described above.
The dialogic conflict of the two initial text-groups acquires a completely new sense from the moment (this word has no chronological meaning in this context, inasmuch as the pre-artistic period of the existence of texts can be separated from the artistic logically, but not historically) of the origin of art.
In an artistic text it turns out to be possible to realize that optimal correlation of the two groups in which the conflicting structures are disposed not hierarchically, that is to say on different levels, but dialogically - on one level. For this reason artistic narration is the most flexible and effective modelling mechanism, capable of describing, in their entirety, extremely complex structures and situations.
The conflicting systems do not take each other's place, but acquire a structural relationship which engenders new types of regularity. We shall attempt to illustrate how a narrative structure of this type is realized in the particular example of Dostoevskij's novels. These are suitable precisely in their dialogic structure, as profoundly analyzed by M.M. Baxtin. As Baxtin himself demonstrated, however, dialogic structure is not an appurtenance of Dostoevskij's novels alone, but is a characteristic of the novel form as such; - and one might even put this more widely - of certain types of artistic text. At this juncture, however, we are not interested in the dialogic principle in its wide scope and many aspects. We have before us a considerably narrower task - to trace the integration in the narrative form of the novel of the two opposing principles of plot-formation.
In Dostoevskij's novels it is easy to distinguish, as many commentators have already observed, two contrasting spheres: the field of social action and the world of ideological conflict.
The former - the field of plot-development - can in turn be subdivided into the world of day-to-day events and the sphere of the crime-story detective plot.
It was remarked long ago that day-to-day events unfold in Dostoevskij according to a "logic of scandals," the regular consequence of which was the formal expression of a link between episodes by recourse to the word "suddenly" (Slonimskij, 1922). Expanding this observation one might say that events of the social series follow each other in Dostoevskij's narration according to the law of least probability. The reader, relying upon his experience of life, works out in his consciousness certain expected possibilities, some of which are estimated as extremely probable, others as just possible, and others as hardly probable or completely impossible. When he encounters a particular event in the text of a novel the reader quite naturally applies to it his own scale of expectations (another scale of expectations conditioned by his literary experience as a consumer of artistic texts is of course imposed upon this: it is quite possible to posit a process of subconscious expectation, distinguishing the most probable events in life and in artistic texts of one type or another). This gives him the possibility of constructing the most probable next chain of the plot development. In a text by Dostoevskij the thing least expected by the reader (that is to say the least expected both according to the laws of life experience and literary constructs) turns out to be the one thing possible for the author.
Let us examine for example the "Wise Serpent" chapter from The Devils. Even the initial situation is constructed as a violation of the most probable: Stepan Trofimovich, invited to Varvara Petrovna's house for an important and confidential conversation, arrives to find nobody there. At the same time another strange event is taking place: Varvara Petrovna is being approached in church by a lady whom she does not know, and who behaves strangely (later she turns out to be Mar'ja Timofeevna Lebjadkina), and Varvara Petrovna in defiance of both common sense and her own essential character invites her to her home.4 Then Liza, whose behavior is completely inexplicable, gets involved in the affair, and despite everything forces Varvara Petrovna to take her along too.
Stepan Trofimovich and the author are expecting only Varvara Petrovna, but they hear the sound of many footsteps which "was already a little strange." The sound of the footsteps is as if "somebody was coming in strangely quickly." This is followed by the special notification that "Varvara Petrovna could not have come in like that." For this very reason it does turn out to be Varvara Petrovna who comes in (the young women are following "a little way behind and considerably more quietly"). This is followed by the strange and scandalous behavior of Mar'ja Timofeevna. As soon as this incident is over, Praskov'ja Ivanovna (Liza's mother) suddenly appears and a scene ensues between her and Varvara Petrovna that is both scandalous and unexpected (the meek and downtrodden Praskov'ja Ivanovna behaves aggressively). The scene ends with Varvara Petrovna fainting and with a reconciliation. Later a new character, Dar'ja Pavlovna, appears. Yet the ensuing conversation is not about Stepan Trofimovich's wooing of her, which is the reason for his visit (everybody has, quite improbably, forgotten about this), but about something completely different, introducing a new complication: Dar'ja Pavlovna announces that she has given Captain Lebjadkin the money as Nikolaj Vsevolodovich had requested, thus revealing the existence of some mysterious relationships between people whose very acquaintanceship seemed improbable.
Then Captain Lebjadkin is announced, and despite the insistence of everyone present that he is "not the kind of man who could enter society" and that he could not possibly have been invited, he has been invited and is coming in. At this Varvara Petrovna tells Liza to leave the room ("Liza in particular has no business here") after which, naturally, Liza remains. Then Captain Lebjadkin comes in, and his appearance is on the one hand a new link in the chain of absurdities, but on the other is unexpected in its insufficient outrageousness: he is properly and even foppishly dressed and he is not drunk (at this I In general Dostoevskij's heroes systematically commit acts which are outside the given constants of their characters and which have a "strange", unmotivated air. Liputin's expression that "There are people for whom clean linen is even improper" is recalled; Lebjadkin's behavior turns out to be improper for him, that is to say insufficiently outrageous). When they ring the bell to have Lebjadkin removed, the servant comes in and announces that "Nikolaj Vsevolodovich has just arrived and is coming here." Which is followed by the appearance not of Nikolaj Vsevolodovich, but of an unknown young man who turns out to be the son of Stepan Trofimovich. Then Nikolaj Vsevolodovich appears, but he has not got beyond the doorway before Varvara Petrovna asks him the most unexpected question: "Is it true that this unfortunate lame woman - there she is, look at her! Is it true that she is ..... your lawful wife?" Nikolaj Vsevolodovich makes no reply, kisses his mother's hand respectfully and leads Mar'ja Timofeevna tenderly from the room. While he is away Petr Stepanovich offers a wholly positive "explana- tion" of Nikolaj Vsevolodovich's behavior ("the obtrusive desire of this gentleman who had just fallen from the sky to tell anecdotes about other people was rather strange and contrary to all usual rules of con- duct"). Terrorized by Petr Stepanovich, Captain Lebjadkin is shamefully thrown out, and a veritable apotheosis of Nikolaj Vsevolodovich is at hand. But at this point Liza unexpectedly has hysterics. No sooner have they managed to calm her down than Petr Stepanovich makes an unex- pected revelation, as a result of which his father is shamefully thrown out. Then Shatov, who has all this time been sitting quietly in the corner, unexpectedly hits Nikolaj Vsevolodovich about the face and Liza faints.
It is enough to observe this list of episodes to be convinced that they make up a sequence of events without any inner link. The totally fortuitous atom-like sequence of separate isolated clots of action is underlined by the fact that in a whole series of cases predictability is, in fact, present, only in reverse: episodes follow each other in not the most probable but the most improbable order.
There is an important difference between the nature of the unexpectedness of episodes on the given, everyday level and on the detective story level. The uncoordinated and arbitrary consequences in the detective story are only apparent. They exist because the reader has not been apprised of the secret of the plot, and continues until the appointed time to take what is unimportant for the significant, and vice versa. Inasmuch as it is necessary to keep the reader in the dark for as long as possible, the erroneousness of his assumptions is hidden from him. False trails are given the most logical and outwardly convincing air. In this case the absence of a link between two particular episodes is only rarely brought out to hint at the falsity of the connections assumed by the reader.
There is a hidden logic of this kind to the criminal action in The Devils, in particular in the episode quoted above. A certain number of the events only seem to be an accumulation of fortuitous absurdities, and the revelation of secret crimes introduces logic and order into their sequence. But this cannot be said about the whole chain of episodes of this chapter: for a large part of them the absurdity and the fortuitousness in their connections remain. Moreover whereas in the detective story the absurdity (incorrectness) of the false connections established by someone who does not know the hidden springs of the action remains hidden until the appointed moment, in the passage which interests us (and in others like it) Dostoevsky painstakingly notifies us in advance, as if he were anxious that the reader might not notice the principle according to which the text is constructed ("A day of unexpected events," "everything transpired in a way nobody could have supposed," etc.).
Each of the levels we have distinguished has a particular syntagmatic organization all of its own, and as a consequence of this their inter- relationships are complex.
With regard to the ideational nucleus of Dostoevsky's novels, it has already been noted by B.M. Engel'gardt that they directly organize the plot movement of the text. Even more significant is the point made by Bakhtin that monologic construction - the natural result of the linear unfolding of myth into a normalizator-text - is replaced in Dostoevsky in the nuclear structure of the novel by dialogue: "[ ... ] the ideas of Dostoevsky the thinker change the very form of their existence when they become part of his polyphonic novel. [ ... I They are freed from their monologic isolation and finality, becoming completely dialogized and entering into the great dialogue of the novel (Bakhtin, 1973: 75).
In this way the ideological nucleus absorbs the structural features of peripheral texts. A contrary process is simultaneously at work, its character clearly observed in the typical Dostoevskian representation of the everyday layer as a chain of scandals and outrages. One might think that this layer, permeated as it is in Dostoevsky with chance occurrences and with the violation of all possible normal expectations, should be for him the embodiment of the unreason and "sinfulness" of the material world. This is both the case and not the case, inasmuch as unpredictability and even absurdity are for Dostoevsky a characteristic not only of scandal but also of miracle. Both these poles, signifying final destruction and final salvation, have the shared trait of unmoti- vatedness and irregularity. Thus the eschatological moment of the instantaneous ultimate resolution of all the tragic contradictions of life is not introduced into this life from outside, from the sphere of ideas, but is discovered in the thick of life itself.
A model of such a fusion of "scandal" and "miracle," demonstrating their relatedness, is the game of cards or roulette.
Gambling embodies on the one hand the formless essence of formless life: "Today was a funny, outrageous, absurd day" (Dostoevskij, 1976: 38; cf. also: 51), and on the other hand the eschatological miracle of the resolution of all conflicts. At the center of The Gambler is the thirst for a miracle. Winning is "something miraculous. Although it is completely capable of mathematical proof, nevertheless to this day it remains for me something miraculous" (1976: 128). Moreover it is stressed more than once that the point is not the money but the thirst for instantaneous and ultimate salvation. It is not fortuitous that winning is associated with the purely mythological notion of resur- rection, the end of the old - sinful - life, and the beginning of a completely new existence: "What am I now? Zero. What may I be tomorrow?" (a clear paraphrase of the words of Abb Sieys: "What is the third estate? Nothing. What might it be tomorrow? Everything," giving a new nuance to the thirst for a miracle - the possibility of a political interpretation, which prefigures Raskol'nikov). "Tomorrow I may rise from the dead and begin to live again!" (1976: 153). And further: "To be born again, to rise again."
In this sense Astley's affirmation that "roulette is for the most part a Russian game" is as revealing as the initial antithesis between German gradualism and Russian striving towards instantaneous destruction ("he squanders it [money, Ju.L.] somehow pointlessly and outrageously") or instantaneous salvation, towards miracle ("to get rich suddenly, in two hours, without effort"). In this sense The Gambler is already laying the foundation for Raskol'nikov with his striving towards instantaneous destruction or the instantaneous salvation of mankind. But it is Sonja who brings Raskol'nikov the miracle of the instantaneous salvation of his soul.
Thus if dialogism is the penetration of the wide variety of life into the regulating sphere of theory, at the same time mythologism penetrates into the sphere of the excess.
Dostoevsky's novels offer a clear illustration of what can be considered the general properties of narrative artistic texts.
We have seen that as a result of the linear unfolding of a mythological text a primordially single character is divided into pairs and groups. But the reverse process also takes place. The point is that the identity which is established, as a result of the translation to the linear system and the clear emergence of the categories of beginning and end, between these concepts and the biological boundaries of human existence, is a relatively late phenomenon. In eschatological legend and isomorphous texts the segmentation of human existence into unbroken sections can take place in a way that is quite unexpected for the modern consciousness. Thus, for example, the isomorphism of burial (eating) and conception, birth and rebirth can lead to the situation where a narrative about a hero's fate can begin with his death, and his birth-rebirth take place in the middle of the tale. The complete eschatological cycle: the existence of the hero (as a rule beginning not with his birth), his ageing, spoiling (falling into the sin of incorrect behavior) or some inherent defect (for example the hero is a monster, a fool or sick), then death, rebirth and a new ideal existence (which as a rule ends not in death but in apotheosis) is interpreted as a narrative about a single character. The fact that in the middle of the tale he undergoes death, change of name, full change of character, diametric re-appraisal of behavior (extreme sinfulness is replaced by extreme righteousness), does not require us to see here a tale about two heroes, as would be characteristic of a modern narrator.
We can take as an example the famous episode from the Acts of the Apostles. The tale about Saul - Paul begins not with the hero's birth, but with the mention of his participation in the execution of the first martyr, St. Stephen. Later we learn of him that "breathing out threat- enings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord" he was a zealous persecutor of the Christians. On the road to Damascus "suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven." He heard a voice from above, lost his sight and then, when it was miraculously restored to him, became a "chosen vessel" of the Lord (Acts, IX, 1, 3, and 15) and began to be called Paul.
This narrative is highly noteworthy as an ideal realization of the schema: birth and death do not frame the hero's story, but are placed in the middle of it, since what happened on the road to Damascus is of course death, and the regeneration that followed it is birth. The change of name is not fortuitous. But at the ends of the narrative we find no such boundaries: it neither begins with birth nor ends in death. just as interesting is another point: there is no basis, from the point of view of such criteria as the "unity of action" of the age of Classicism or the "logic of character" in a realistic text, to identify Saul and Paul as one character. And yet in the text we have referred to they are not two characters who exist one after the other, but one person.
Such a schema for the construction of character under the influence of mytho-legendary tradition passes even into later literary works, where it becomes the language used in texts about a hero's "enlight- enment" or sudden change of nature, such as, for example, fairy tales in which the fool turns into a Tsar (a journey into a forest or to Baba-Yaga, and expressions like: "he climbed into one ear -- he climbed out of the other, and he turned into a beautiful young man" and so on are basically, of course, concerned with death and resurrection). We find a direct transference of this schema into later works in the tales about great sinners who become righteous men (Andrew of Crete, Pope Gregory) (Gudzij, 1915a: 247-256; 1915b: 11, 18; Seelisch, 1887: 385-440), a clear example of which is Nekrasov's Vlas. At the beginning of the poem the hero is a great sinner: Govorjat, velikim greshnikom Byl on prezhde. V muzhike Boga ne bylo; pobojami V grob zhenu svoju vognal; Promyshljashchix razbojami, Konokradov ukryval [... ]
[They say that previously he was a great sinner. There was no God in the man; he drove his wife to the grave with his beatings; he gave shelter to horse thieves who earned their living by brigandage (...)] After this he falls ill. The expressive picture of hell illustrates the point that in this case it is the functional equivalent of death:
Govorjat, emu videnie Vse mereshchilos' v bredu: Videl sveta prestavlenie Videl greshnikov v adu: Muchat besy ix provornye, Zhalit ved'ma - egoza, Efiopy - vidom chernye I kak uglie glaza [... I
[They say that in his delirium he kept seeing a vision: he saw the waning of the light, he saw the sinners in hell: Nimble devils torment them, the witch-fidget bites them, and Black Ethiopes, with eyes as black as coal (... )]
Return to life brings with it the full regeneration of the hero: Rozdal Vlas svoe imenie, Sam ostalsja bos i gol [... I
[... ] Polon skorb'ju neuteshnoju, Smuglolits, vysok i prjam, Xodit on stopoj nespeshnoju Po selen'jam, gorodam. [Vlas. gave away his possessions, himself remaining barefoot and naked(... )
[... ] full of inconsolable grief, swarthy, tall and upright, he walks with unhurried step about the villages and towns.]
The critical character of the moment of regeneration, and its equivalence to death, is often stressed by the hero's being given a double (we have already pointed out that in essence a double results from the bisection of a single character) who undergoes not resur- rection (or rejuvenation) but destruction. We find such episodes in a seri es of texts from the myth of Medea (the magical rejuvenation of a ram which has been subjected to dismemberment and cooking, and the destruction of King Pelias when he undergoes the same procedure) right up' to the end of Ershov's "Konek-Gorbunok" (The Little Hump-Backed Horse):
Na kon'ka Ivan vzgljanul I v kotel totchas nyrnul, [ ... ] "Eko divo! - vse krichali, - My i slyxom ne slyxali, Chtoby l'zja poxoroshet'!" Tsar' velel sebja razdet', Dva raza perekrestilsja, - Bux v kotel - i tam svarilsja!-5
[Ivan looked at the little horse and immediately dived into the the cauldron [ ... I "What a miracle! - everybody cried, - We have never heard the like, to be able to grow more handsome!" The Tsar' ordered himself to be undressed, crossed himself twice, - jumped into the cauldron - and there he was cooked!]
The "fall-rebirth" schema is widely represented in modern liter- ature. For example it organizes several of Pushkin's lyric poems, such as "Renaissance." Let us recall Mikhalevich's famous lines in Turgenev's "A Nest of Gentlefolk":
Novym chuvstvam vsem serdtsem otdalsja, Kak rebenok dushoju ja stal; I ja szheg vse, chemu poklonjalsja Poklonilsja vsemu, chto szhigal.
[I'm given up with all my heart to new feelings, in soul I've become like a child; and I've burnt everything to which I once paid homage, bowed down before everything I once burned.]
Before us is a character consisting of two directly contrasting parts, the transition from one of which to the other is thought of as renewal. Childhood falls not at the beginning but in the middle of the temporal development of the image ("in soul I've become like a child"). Tolstoy's Resurrection is constructed according to the same schema. For all the divergence of specific historical ideas, transmitted with the help of the given plot mechanism, the very repetition of such titles as Renaissance, Resurrection cannot be mere chance.
The imposition on to the schema of eschatological legend of the day-to-day identity of literary character and ordinary man led to the possibility of modelling a person's inner world according to the pattern of the macrocosm, and interpreting one person as a conflictingly organized collective.
Plot represents a powerful means of making sense of life. Only as a result of the emergence of narrative forms of art did man learn to distinguish the plot aspect of reality, that is, to break down the non-discrete flow. of events into discrete units, to connect them to 5 Cf. Afanas'ev's legends about unsuccessful cures. certain meanings (that is, to interpret them semantically) and to organize them into regulated chains (to interpret them syntagmatically). It is the isolation of events - discrete plot units - and the allotting to them, on the one hand, of a particular meaning, and, on the other, a particular temporal, cause-result or other regulatedness that makes up the essence of plot.
The more a man's behavior takes on the characteristics of freedom in relation to the automatism of genetic programs, the more important it is for him to construct plots about events and behavior. But to construct schemas and models of this kind it is essential to have a language. Such a role is fulfilled by the original language of artistic plot, which later becomes ever more complex, departing very far from those elementary schemas which we have discussed in this article. Like every language, the language of plot can only transmit and model a certain content by being separated from that content. The models which arose in ancient times are separated from specific messages, but can serve as the material for their textual construction. It should be remembered, however, that in art the language and the text are constantly changing places and functions.
By creating plot-texts, man learnt to distinguish plots in life and thus to make sense of life.

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