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Type of publication: Straipsnis / Article
Author(s): Navickas, Andrius
Title: Liberali Boriso Akunino utopija
Other Title: The liberal utopia of Boris Akunin
Is part of: Darbai ir dienos, 2007, nr. 48, p. 185-198
Date: 2007
Abstract: The article discusses the philosophical ideas in the works of one of the most popular contemporary Russian writers, Boris Akunin (pen name of the outstanding Russian humanitarian Grigory Chkhartishvili). His success in Russia is particularly startling since none of his books contains the ingredients said to be the sine qua non of popularity in a post-authoritarian, post-censorship literary market. They contain little sex, language is not just clean but pristinely old-fashioned, fights, while brutal and explicitly portrayed, are infrequent. Akunin’s texts are tastefully and carefully crafted in the manner of the classic 19th-century Russian prose of Nikolai Leskov, Ivan Goncharov and Sergei Aksakov, with echoes reminiscent of Nikolai Gogol and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Although Akunin insists that the main purpose of his works is to provide enjoyment for the readers, a careful look at his texts reveals the presence of important ideas of political philosophy beneath the surface. Akunin has created heroes who are the existential refutation of the traditional stereotypes of Russian intelligentsia. They are rational and honorable, they exercise self-restraint and remain fairly critical of political authority, thus demonstrating the possibility of living by one’s principles. The writer does not impose his ideas on the reader, but rather encourages him to think critically and raise questions. The main thesis of the article argues that Akunin’s fiction includes the idea of the liberal utopia. His liberalism entails the following features: centrality of human choice, the conviction that human dignity is the foundation of a liberal society, the idea that if we want to change society, we must first and foremost change ourselves. His conception of political philosophy can be called utopian because the writer believes that it can be accepted not because of its theoretical strength, but rather its attractiveness to free and self confident men and women. Akunin believes that such men and women will certainly appear in Russia. Furthermore, the article argues that Akunin’s works may have a greater influence on contemporary Russian society than the activities of liberal politics or the heavy treatises of political theory.
Appears in Collections:Darbai ir dienos / Deeds and Days 2007, nr. 48

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