Irina Schulzki deposited “По следам Байрона и Толстого”: Скрипторика и субъект письма в эссеистике Михаила Шишкина (“In the Steps of Byron and Tolstoy”: Scriptorics and the Subject of Writing in Mikhail Shishkin’s prose) on Humanities Commons 6 years, 3 months ago
In 2008 Mikhail Epstein suggested a new discipline, sciptorics, that would bring back the subject of writing hastily effaced by the poststructuralist concept of the “death of the author”. In scriptorics, the act of writing gains an anthropological and personalised dimension. The scriptor’s mode of existence consists in “leaving traces” by literally inscribing oneself into the world in a paradoxical manner through selfexpression and self-erasure. Epstein’s idea reflects that of Mikhail Shishkin’s literary work in which “writing by traces” is not only a recurrent motif but also a conscious narrative strategy. The paper focuses on Shishkin’s book of essays written in German: Auf den Spuren von Byron und Tolstoi (In the Steps of Byron and Tolstoy, 2002). Its autobiographical protagonist sets out on a walking tour following his predecessors’ paths from Lake Geneva to the Bernese Alps. The book whose genre is defined by the author as a “literary walk” includes a wide range of archival material, historical sources, autobiographical details, quotes, poems, memoirs, and abstract reflections. It can and probably should be considered together with Shishkin’s previous “literaryhistorical guidebook” Russian Switzerland (1999) — in both cases the topographical focus inevitably shifts from Switzerland to Russia and its history, and, above all, its literature. Moving across borders of languages and cultures, space and time, Shishkin’s heterogeneous travelogue transforms the exploration of the Swiss/Russian chronotope into a two-fold aesthetic act: of reading and reproducing his predeccesors’ texts, on
the one hand, and of generating his own narrative on the other. At the crossroads of seemingly mutually exclusive categories such as writing and copying, fictional and factual, self-loss and self-discovery, authenticity and plagiarism, speaking and translating, the subject of writing reappears in the new status of a scriptor.