Viktor Pelevin’s Parody of Neo-Eurasianism
This chapter focuses on the themes crucial to Viktor Pelevin's Chapaev and the Void, the deconstruction of the Soviet mass psyche and the search for identity. Set partly in a Moscow mental hospital, Pelevin's Chapaev parody lends itself to a psychoanalytic challenge to the repressive neo-Eurasianist view of human nature. Here the focus is on the constructions of self of the four inmates in the psychiatric hospital story, each of whom is viewed as an allegorical component in something we can call the “national-imperial psyche.” Contemporary neo-Eurasianism with its national-imperial idea is an ideological straw man that receives wonderful philosophical and psychological satirical treatment in this novel. Chapaev also features a series of zany philosophical dialogues variously about consciousness, ethics, and metaphysics—and always about identity. Thus the post-Soviet tendency to link identity to spatial-geographical metaphor becomes here the object of a fundamental philosophical challenge.
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