Historical revolution in Boris Akunin’s oeuvre

Olga Sergiivna RYZHCHENKO


Introduction. It is peculiar to the modern literary process to step aside from so-called traditional genres and be orientated on creation of “intermediate” genres, like retro detective (historical mystery) or historical detective, fantasy or so-called “folk-history”. Boris Akunin is a well-known author of retro detectives which provide him with admiration not only in Russia, but also far outside the territory of the country.

Detective oeuvre of the well-known literary critic Gregory Chkhartishvili, who writes under the pen-name Boris Akunin, is constantly paid attention by both critics and theorists of literature who study modern literary process trends as polyculture. Boris Akunin’s creative activity is a significant phenomenon of modern middle-literature, without which it is impossible to make the complete picture of the mainstream of the literary process on the turn of the XX XXI centuries. But the analysis of the latest works of the known Russian writer Boris Akunin shows that he has lately tried to step aside from detective genre, creating so-called “monumental production”.

Purpose. We have tried to define the new path of development of Boris Akunin’s oeuvre who has decided to give up detective genre and become utterly absorbed in his historical works which are oriented on the description of key development of the Russian Empire.

Results. Lately the author has been oriented on creation of traditional genre, monumental production, a novel which would answer the call for all necessary specification and rules of the genre. The interviews of the author and his works can testify it. Moreover, Boris Akunin tries to create a manual on history, which would include both a theoretical section presented by nonfiction "The History of the Russian state", as well as its practical part – the collections “Fire finger” and “Boh and Shelma”, which describe historical events in ancient Rus before Mongol period and Mongol Domination.

It took Boris Akunin quite a long time to create a really historical novel. First he wrote historical mysteries (or so-called retro detectives). Then the author tried himself in a different role and there appeared two new projects called "Authors" and "Genres". But still the author continued his research and as the next step in his creative endeavour he produced a new project combining cooperative work of him and his readers. His historical blog called "Love to history" let the author enlist the services of his "keen reader" which enforced him to start his monumental production. Boris Akunin tried to produce so-called two-sided creative work which would contain a documentary part and a fiction part. This combination would heighten readers' interest to historical studies.

Originality. The new project by Boris Akunin has caused hot discussion among not only literary critics but also historicians as well. The latter imputed the author a lot of faults such as liberal handling with historical facts and him being a layman in this field, boring narration and a lot of others. But still Boris Akunin's oeuvre is considered to be a vivid sample of modern literature and his works are still fiction rather than nonfiction, even his documentary part. So they should be treated like high quality historical fiction with all pros and cons.


Conclusion. The author himself has covered a very long path from a detective novel on the historical background to a monumental production, also making attempt to create both fiction and nonfiction. A considerable step on this way is an attempt of creation a metatext, engaging to work his permanent readers through so-called blog where Boris Akunin held a discussion concerning different historical events or figures with his readers. Lately the genre of historical novel has undergone a new round of development. A great variety of modern novelists try themselves creating different historical interpretations, pastiche or rehabilitations. As it is known, historical development is cyclical in nature and it is impossible to understand contemporary processes or build up steady future without knowing your past. And Boris Akunin has set himself the task of making his readers feel events of the past and with the help of it he makes them have causes and consequences of current situation on mind.


mainstream; middle-literature; modern tendencies of literary process; monumental production; traditional genre


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