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The Synthesis of the Private and the Historical in B. Okudzhava’s Novel Rendezvous with Bonaparte. P. 112–119

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Section: Philology




Matyushkina Ekaterina Nikitichna
Saint-Petersburg State Economic University
21 Sadovaya St., St. Petersburg, 191023, Russian Federation;


This article describes the synthesis of the private and the historical in the last historical novel by Bulat Okudzhava. History in Rendezvous with Bonaparte is presented from the viewpoint of a private person facing the effects of certain historical circumstances. When writing this novel, Okudzhava was rethinking the old ideals of his time and the role of man in history. The range of problems in this work is determined by the correlation between the present and the past. The diaries present the events of the Patriotic War of 1812: the fire of Moscow, the militia and the partisan movement. Okudzhava’s intellectual characters, with their romantic perception of the world, feel personally responsible for what is happening and seek freedom. The writer’s last historical novel, embracing most complex processes of that period, emphasizes the question of the meaning and price of freedom, which for a private person always turns out a tragedy. Thus, the novel Rendezvous with Bonaparte is an intricate combination of adventurism, attempts at philosophical evaluation of historical events, thoughts about the contradictions of the writer’s own time and an emotional, poetic reflection of the past. History is shown there through the prism of personal perception of the characters, who, against their will, find themselves in the thick of historical events. It is important for Okudzhava to demonstrate how external factors affect the worldview of each character. The writer provides an objective representation of history by giving the woman’s view of the events along with the man’s. The past unfolds in this novel as a play; theatricality allows the writer to take an ironic approach to the image of the characters. This paper aimed to present Okudzhava’s historical and philosophical ideas of the private person’s being powerless against the historical reality.


B. Okudzhava, historical novel, Rendezvous with Bonaparte, private person, intellectual heroes
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