Title: “Scollins, Pushkin, and Biblical Parallels” 1
Kathleen Scollins in her article “The Old Testament Landscape of The Bronze Horseman,” identifies thematic parallels between Pushkin’s poem and the books of Job and Genesis. Scollins investigates how Job’s plight with God connects to Evgeny’s confrontations with Peter the Great’s statue in parts one and two of the poem. Additionally, she outlines similarities and differences between Peter’s creation and the Genesis creation narrative. Scollins claims that the stories of Job and Evgeny have similar narratives until the end, where a divergence occurs.
Scollins tracks and evaluates a partial creation narrative in The Bronze Horseman. The language in the prologue referencing Peter’s creation of St. Petersburg parallels God’s creation of the new world. Scollins discusses how language in the poem echoes divine Logos, becoming “performative,” and leading to action. 2 Peter stating “Let there be a city here” resembles God bellowing “Let there be light” in Genesis.3 The creation story in St. Petersburg is incomplete, as he is not God forming the city, and cannot create a natural state. Scollins claims that the creation parallels end on the 4th day, where “day and night never fully separate in Peter’s new city.”4 The fragmented creation narrative suggests the limits of Peter’s power. The flood undoes the entirety of his unnatural creation. The landscape in part two is closer to the natural state of God’s creation than Peter’s artificial city. The floodwaters, according to Scollins, divert the unnatural city back to a more “natural” order.5
Scollins emphasizes that the interactions that Job and Evgeny have with their leaders are analogous until the end, where the two narratives contains a divergence. The characters are both persecuted in their stories. Job has his livelihood taken away and Evgeny loses everything in the flood. The effects of their battles are completely different. Job is rewarded for his fight against God by receiving twofold what he had before, while Evgeny is left poor and eventually dies after he curses out the statue. Scollins asserts that Evgeny has to die because he never repents to God.6
Scollins focuses mainly on the themes of injustice, defiance, and rebellion. The injustice leads to the defiance and rebellion. Scollins outlines the three themes in the following excerpt:
The biblical rebel Job decried the lack of justice he discerned in his creator’s order and called for divine justification; informed by this subtextual stratum of meaning, Evgeny’s apparently unsophisticated threat is revealed to contain a direct challenge to the very legitimacy of Peter’s world building.7
Job and Evgeny both suffer injustice at the hands of their respective leaders. Job receives scorn and brutality from God in return for his devotion, causing him to defy God’s word angrily in retaliation, and eventually leading him to rebel through scorning God in a lengthy diatribe.8 Evgeny suffers injustice from Peter, causing him to challenge the tsar’s authority, and then eventually fighting against him by challenging the validity of his city, his “world building.” Scollins argues that the flood is nature’s response to Peter. However, she neglects the possibility of divine intervention in her idea that the flood is nature’s reaction to Peter’s attempt to create a natural order. In response to Peter imitating divine power, God could have commanded the flood directly to spite Peter for acting as an “imposter god.”
- Text available for download (here)
- Kathleen Scollins, “Cursing at the Whirlwind: The Old Testament Landscape of The Bronze Horseman,” Pushkin Review 16-17 (2013-2014): 205-31.
- Scollins 223
- Scollins 225
- Scollins 227
- Scollins 220
- Scollins 207
- Scollins 215