To the Iron Age of Progress (The Image of Economic Life of the Country in Russian Poetry of the XVIII – XIX Centuries)Donskikh Oleg
The author presents the attitude of Russian poets of the XVIII – XIX centuries to different aspects of economic life based on their works. The poetry of the XVIII century was rigidly differentiated by genre, and it was not supposed to reflect the specifics of economic relations in general. The only exceptions were satirical works whose authors criticized, primarily from the moral side, certain aspects of everyday life, and in particular, the practice of tax collectors. Nevertheless, poets did not do without comments about the socio-economic division of society into separate groups, the significance of certain power decisions for the development of the country’s economy, and, of course, the role of money and trade in the development of society as a whole and in human lives. Some poems contain curious references to international trade, the development of which, especially in the reign of Catherine II, led some poets to hail progress and even characterize this time as a ‘Golden Age’. It is shown how the assessment of the epoch changes during the first half of the XIX century, and how the ‘Golden Age’ is transformed in common opinion into the ‘Iron Age’. The role of economic and socialist theories in the life of society is increasing. A poet of the XIX century descends from the position of an external observer watching the sinful earth and he is horrified to find himself at the mercy of money and related interests, which produce a highly negative effect on morality, subordinating all human aspirations to monetary relations and, therefore, coarsening the soul. We consider the disputes about the progress between the lyric poets and our quite straightforward Westerners. Alexander Blok sums up a certain result of the social orientation towards purely economic relations and the technological progress associated with it in the poem “Retribution”.