Genesis of the Archetype of the Trickster in Russian Literature

Keywords: trickster, jester, Petrukha Farnos, skomorokh buffoonery, anti-behavior, anti-sense, cultural hero, antihero, theater of Petrushka.


The article is devoted to demonstrating
the genesis of the archetype of the trickster
in Russian literature. The antihero, the sources
of whose anti-behavior are traced
in harlequinade and skmorokh buffoonery,
is examined on the material of folklore
and literary works from the 18th to the early
20th century. Anti-behavior in Russian culture
symbolizes a rebellion unrefl exed in the folk
environment against the norms of behavior
and orderliness of life imposed by those
in power.
The archetype of the trickster, which has
longtime traditions in world culture,
was personified in Russia as the skomorokh,
then the jester Farnos, who in many ways
adopted the skomorokh traditions. Among
the populace Petrukha Fornos became one
of the favorite comic jester heroes, having
acquired special popularity as the result
of crude color woodcuts from the 18th century.
In the 19th century the image of Farnos was
transformed into Petrushka, a puppet character
of the theatricalized genre. With his assistance
the simplistic satirical subjects lay
at the foundation of the so-called Petrushka
theater which, despite the unaltered plot, bore
an improvisational-play character, pertaining
to a number of “baculine” comedies,
in the 19th century the image of Petrushka
was so popular, that it surpassed the oral
folk tradition and found its place in literary
compositions. In the early 20th century
the image of Petrushka the trickster became
the source for numerous interpretations
in modernist literature.

Folklore and National Culture