Studi Slavistici XIX (2022) 2
Articoli

From “A Mother, a Wife, a Daughter” to “The Soul and Mirror of All Human Beings”. About the printed text and archival versions of The Sistine Madonna by Vasily Grossman

Anna Sergeevna Krasnikova
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan
Bio
Published January 25, 2023
Keywords
  • Vasily Grossman,
  • The Sistine Madonna,
  • Textual Criticism
How to Cite
Krasnikova, A. S. (2023). From “A Mother, a Wife, a Daughter” to “The Soul and Mirror of All Human Beings”. About the printed text and archival versions of The Sistine Madonna by Vasily Grossman. Studi Slavistici, 19(2), 105-128. https://doi.org/10.36253/Studi_Slavis-13389

Abstract

The Sistine Madonna, an essay by Vasily Grossman well-known to readers all over the world, was published in 1989. Since then the text of the first edition has been republished many times and translated into many languages, but it turns out that we do not know the sources of this publication and cannot be sure that its text is authorized. 

The paper presents the first attempt to establish the critical text of The Sistine Madonna. We examine all the versions of the essay found to the present day, from the state and private archives. We attempt to follow the evolution of the text and to analyze the most important vectors of its modification. It seems that by changing some genre characteristics, the images of Madonna and the Christ child, and reducing the number of details, Grossman makes the text more symbolic and universal. The study of the first variants also helps to highlight the significance of some obscure fragments in the published version of 1989. 

While the study of the dynamics of The Sistine Madonna and the collation of its versions is useful in itself, this work also further investigates the understudied evolution of the author. Moreover, the reading and analyzing of the essay is as relevant as ever, since the text reminds us that “what is human in man” cannot be enslaved even by the “most perfect violence … even in our iron age”. 

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