“Chevalier’s Epee”, “Victor” and “Actor”: Unity and Continuity of the Three Plays by M. E. Levberg

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Leading Researcher
Affiliation: A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: 25 a Povarskaya Str., Moscow, 121069, Russia
Journal nameIzvestiia Rossiiskoi akademii nauk. Seriia literatury i iazyka
EditionVolume 81 Issue 4

The article introduces the unpublished plays by Maria Evgenievna Levberg (1892–1934) “Victor” and “Actor” (1926). A hypothesis is put forward about the dating of the “Victor” (c. 1914–1915), based on comparison of this “dramatic study” with the published “dramatic presto” by Levberg “Stones of Death” (1915). The plot and motif complex and the system of images, which are common for “Victor” and “Actor”, as well as for the published drama by Levberg “Chevalier’s Epee” (1916), are revealed. In all three cases, the plot may be reduced to the formula of the role and mask becoming the “true” face of their wearer; in the later play “Actor” everything that is “heavy”, “ambivalent” and “tragic” associated with such a plot turns out to be “removed” on the metalevel. In all three plays, the central character, represented by the type of a young man “of the people”, a witty adventurer, greedy for life and success, but not devoid of noble impulses, is charged with the motifs of excess strength, love of life, attraction at the same time to the great and simple, high and “low”, as well as the motifs of luck, of being “the chosen one”. The motif of love for the “extraordinary man”, which the female characters of three plays feel towards these heroes, is also constant. Due to the self-reflexive layer of the play “Actor” and the panegyric of the theater which it contains (including the ancient topos of “consolation by art”), the development of the play’s conflict ends not ambiguously, as in “Chevalier’s Epee”, and not tragically, as in “Victor”, but in a comical way that resolves life’s contradictions.

KeywordsM.E. Levberg, theatre, plot and motif complex, motif of the fake identity becoming true, self-reflection of art
Publication date28.09.2022
Number of characters39912
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