• The shortest species: how the length of Russian poetry changed (1750–1921)

    Author(s):
    Artjom Shelya (see profile) , Oleg Sobchuk
    Date:
    2017
    Group(s):
    Digital Humanists, Russian/Eurasian Literature, Slavic DH
    Subject(s):
    Quantitative methods, Cultural evolution, Russian literature, Russian poetry
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    length, Information theory
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6TD9N723
    Abstract:
    The paper studies long-term changes in the length of Russian poetry (1750–1921) to reveal the relation of poem length (counted in lines) to a poetic form and its evolution. The research has shown a dramatic decrease in the mean and median poetry lengths during the 19th century. This decrease was followed by the decline in length diversity, which resulted in short poems (8–20 lines) overpopulating the literature during the age of Modernism. We argue that this transformation towards the short form could be understood in the framework of cultural evolution: Russian poetry struggled to keep its literary niche, while being continuously under the pressure of successful large narratives of the 19th century. Therefore, it was forced to develop complexity while being highly constrained formally (accentual-syllabic verse and rhyme maintained for a long time) by the shrunk length of a lyrical poem.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    6 months ago
    License:
    Attribution-ShareAlike
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