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Khamitov M.R. “Between death and life” by A.N. Apukhtin: reincarnation plot as the narrative problem. Studia Litterarum, 2018, vol. 3, no 2, pp. 102–121. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2018-3-2-102-121

Author: Marsel R. Khamitov
Information about the author:

Marsel R. Khamitov, student, National Research University “The Higher School of Economics”, Staraya Basmannaya str., 21/4, 105066 Moscow, Russia.

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Received: February 21, 2018
Published: June 25, 2018
Issue: 2018 Vol. 3, №2
Department: Russian Literature
Pages: 102-121

UDK: 821.161.1
BBK: 83.3(2Рос=Рус)5
Keywords: A.N. Apukhtin’s fiction, fantastic plot, narrative experiments.


A. N. Apukhtin’s story “Between Death and Life” (written shortly before the author’s death) was not published during his lifetime and has been largely overlooked by Russian scholars. However, it is interesting for its unusual “reincarnation” plot requiring the use of nontrivial narrative techniques that allow reproducing posthumous consciousness and the character’s subsequent rebirth within the Ich-Erzahlung. This article examines how such “reincarnation” narrative is constructed and how it reflects the main plot of the story — emancipation of the narrator’s consciousness from the material world, his “sortie” into atemporal space, and final rebirth. Methodologically, the article bears on W. Schmid’s narrative classification. Whereas in the first chapters the physical space expels the narrator’s consciousness transforming the Ich-Erzahlung into an objective narrative, in the following chapters, the narrator’s mnemonic efforts allow him reach “revelation” and start a new life; such efforts are accompanied by the increasing subjectivation of the narrative. The article examines Apukhtin’s experiments against the background of the Russian 19-th century fantastic fiction, above all V.F. Odoevsky’s story “The Living Dead” that is claimed to be structurally closer to “Between Death and Life” than Leo Tolstoy’s story “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” often considered as Apukhtin’s main source. Yet Apukhtin’s narrative techniques anticipating 20-th century literary experiments differ from the models elaborated within the Russian fantastic tradition as they correspond to that “exotic” plot which Apukhtin chose for his last story.


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