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Space-time continuum in A. Blok's cycle «Poems about the Beautiful Lady»

The article deals with a problem about the space-time continuum on the material of the cycle of poems by A. Blok «Poems about the Beautiful Lady». The analysis of poems is presented, semiotic dominants in the space-time category are revealed. The novelty of the article lies in the fact that the space-time continuum of this cycle of poems has not been studied from the point of view of semiotics. As a result of the work it was revealed that space and time form an indissoluble unity in the cycle. The lyrical hero of Blok in most poems about a Beautiful lady occupies a position between two worlds, on the edge, on the border between this world and the other world. At the same time, in a cycle it is possible to trace finding of the Beautiful Lady in «hori- zontal» and «vertical» spaces. The next direction in the analysis of space-time relations was the differentiation of linear and cyclic time. All locations and stay of a Beautiful Lady are endowed with respectively positive and negative characteristics. The lyrical hero is as it were between the visible and the invisible, the revealed and the hidden, the manifest and the secret, the real and the unreal. Thus, as a result of the study, we came to the conclusion that the cycle of poems is characterized by the awareness of space and time through the prism of the experience accumulated by the lyrical hero, the expectation of a Beautiful Lady.

A series of poems by A. Blok «Poems about the Beautiful Lady» has been of interest for a long time and has been studied by many scientists. The categories of time and space occupy a special place in the poetic picture of the poet's world.

The categories of space and time in their aesthetic interpretation have been extensively and in detail studied even in philosophical science. The works of Aristotle, G.E. Lessing, I.G. Herder, I. Kant, F. Schelling, G.V.F. Hegel and A. Einstein laid a solid foundation for the study of these categories.

The problem of chronotope is one of the central and most interesting in modern literary criticism. Its research is carried out by leading domestic and foreign scientists. The works of M.M. Bakhtin, B.A. Uspensky, Yu.M. Lotman, A.B. Yesina, V.E. Halizeva, A.I. Kovtun, L.G. Babenko, T.Kh. Kerimova, U. Eco, B.K. Maytanov and others are devoted to the study of the category of chronotope. In their works, they reveal the role, significance and functions of time-space in the structure of the artistic whole. According to the basic scientific theories and concepts that have become widespread in literary criticism of the late XX — early XXI centuries, the chronotope is the fundamental concept of the study of being. For «every fact, historical event, artistic monument,... any phenomenon of everyday life inevitably fits into the system of spatiotemporal coordinates» [1; 69].

The continuum category is directly related to the concepts of time and space. The term «continuum» itself means, in the words of I.R. Galperin, «the continuous formation of something, i.e. the undivided flow of motion in time and space» [1; 87]. However, it is possible to analyze motion only if you suspend it and see discrete characteristics in the unfolded parts, which, in interaction, create an idea of motion. Thus, the continuum as a category of a text can be imagined in the most general terms as a certain sequence of facts unfolding in time and space.

The leading role in the development of categories of art space and time belongs to M.M. Bakhtin, who proposed a «consistent chronotopic approach» in the study of an art work. M.M. Bakhtin gave the following definition to the developed concept: «We will call the essential interconnection of temporal and spatial relations artistically mastered in literature is a chronotope (which means «time space « in the literal translation)» [2; 245].

A chronotope plays an important role, since it «determines the artistic unity of a literary work in its relation to reality», and also has «significant genre significance» in literature: «You can directly say that a genre and genre varieties are determined precisely by a chronotope» [2; 247]. So, having arisen in the teaching of M.M. Bakhtin, in recent studies, the chronotope is defined as the structural law of the genre.

Space and time form an inextricable unity in the cycle. As noted by V.N. Toporov, «in the mythopoetic chronotope, time is condensed and becomes a form of space, its new («fourth») dimension. Space, on the contrary, is «infected» with the internally intense properties of time («temporalization» of space), is drawn into its movement …» [3; 78].

In almost all world mythological systems, space is divided into underground, earthly and heavenly. The Underground is a place where dead souls and evil spirits live; they are associated with chaos and death; Earthly — mortal people and animals live; Heaven is the abode of immortal and powerful gods. The space of the underworld as a whole is hostile and alien to a man, the earthly is ordinary and habitual, and the aboveground is always wonderful and gracious. But nevertheless, the most important property of the mythological space is that it is not separated from time, forming with it a special unity, designated as a «chronotope» [3].

A series of poems about «Beautiful Lady», which tells about the anticipation of the meeting of the lyrical hero with his beloved, begins with the lines: Rest in vain. The road is steep. The evening is beautiful. I knock at the gate. A long knock is alien and strict, You scatter a circle of pearls [4, 74].

We see that the lyrical hero overcomes without rest the difficult path uphill (the road is steep), reaching the goal in the evening, knocking on the gate, but it turns out he did not reach the goal, because his Beautiful Lady is far away and although he hears a distant knock, and doesn't respond to it. Already the first poem of the cycle sets the theme of the inaccessibility of the Beautiful Lady, her alienation in the space-time continuum from the lyrical hero, unattainability.

The lyrical hero of Blok in most poems about the Beautiful Lady occupies a position between two worlds, on the edge, on the border between this world and the other world — «alone two-faced»«before the coming grave», crossing the «boundary line». It was from this point that he was given the opportunity to contemplate the Beautiful Lady, and it was here that he met her. In the cycle, one can trace the spatial characteristics of this meeting. The Beautiful Lady herself is always located, as it were, in the transcendental space: «beyond the distant mountains», in the «desert valley»«in a different distance and in unearthly mountains», among the luminaries, in height. This indicates a non-world plan for its existence, on the edge of the world, on the horizon where the earth merges with the sky.

In relation to the lyrical hero, the Beautiful Lady is always located somewhere «there»:

«A patch has appeared somewhere bright and deep in the sky»,
«You are alone — in the distance, you will close the last circles»,
«The soul soared upwards, and there it found a Star»,
«There, over Thy high mountain, a toothed forest stretched»,
«A lonely soul cries There, on the other side».

The lyrical hero himself is in another place, which is far from the Beautiful Lady:

And here, below, in dust, in humiliation, an unknown slave, full of inspiration, sings you. You do not know him; There, in the arches — unknown dusk, Here — the cold of a stone bench. The wind brought from afar Songs of the spring hint, You sleep behind a distant plain, Sleep in a snow sheet. With a tireless ear he catches A distant call of another soul... In silence sound stronger Remote steps. And suddenly, on the eve of the confinement, I will hear long steps. You — alone — in the distance, Will close the last circles...

At the same time, in the cycle one can trace the presence of the Beautiful Lady in the «horizontal» and «vertical» spaces. She is always «beyond the distant mountains», in the «desert valley», «in a different distance and in unearthly mountains», among the luminaries, in height, the mountain is especially often mentioned. This indicates a transcendental, world-wide plan for the existence of a beautiful lady, or rather existence on the edge of the world, on the horizon where the earth merges with the sky or high in the mountains.



You sleep behind a distant plain

Sleeping in a snow sheet...

Are you lost close or far in the sky? Distant steps sound stronger in silence

She is without thought and without speech On that laughing shore

This is not the first time she has come down to earth

But around her crowd for the first time

I will see at the far end

A flaming cloud — you.

So by the wandering lights late at night, across the river, Over the sad meadows we meet with you.

You will not fool, anxiety in vain I see the lights on the river.

Soul soared up, and there she found a Star

A lonely soul is crying There, on the other side.

There, above Your high mountain,

A serrated forest extended.

The next direction in the analysis of space-time relations was the differentiation of linear and cyclic time. Cyclical time is opposed to the newer, associated with the biblical image of the world — linear time. It arises later than the archaic concept. In Christianity, the world in no way seems either timeless or moving along the «ring of time», as in primitive and pagan cultures. The world is created and has a beginning and will have an end. Cyclical time does not know the concepts of «beginning of the world», «end of the world», everything, as in the world, is repeated in a circle.

On the contrary, biblical «linear time» introduces the obligatory points of the «beginning» and «end» of the world. Cyclical perception is expressed by the nomination of the period of the year: winter, spring, summer, autumn, as well as the representation of repeatability in the names of the days of the week and months [5].

The linear representation is expressed in the opposition: yesterday — today — tomorrow, beginning — end. Nominations operating in the language give us the opportunity to follow the dynamics of the development of perception of spatio-temporal relations in the cycle of verses by Alexander Blok.

The starting points for the perception of time in the cycle is the change of the light and dark parts of the day, as well as the frequency of natural phenomena: day and night, morning, evening, and seasons. Particularly semiotically loaded are twilight and dawn as critical, transitional moments of the daily cycle. It is dusk and dawn that most often appear as signs of the appearance and disappearance of the Beautiful Lady. The poet refers to her — «Sunset, the mysterious Virgin». A meeting with her takes place on the border between night and day, between tomorrow and yesterday, because it is a time of uncertainty, mystery, blur, transition. The evening as the time of day is mentioned in the cycle 56 times and is a sign of the approach of the Beautiful Lady. But it is represented by different words: at sunset, I love evening prayer, dusk blue, on the line of sunset fire, it was dark and purple evening, its sunset, its damage, evening. It floods the sunset in spring, did you wait at sunset, the twilight of winter, the twilight descended, the quiet evening shadows, in scarlet dusk, you go into the scarlet dusk, sunset dreams

Morning, the dawn is mentioned 26 times, this time means the disappearance of the image of the Beautiful Lady: the morning after the long night, at the dawn of another spring, I will be with you until the morning, dawn, you, like the dawn, dawn quirks, the night is long, the dawn is pale, the pale dawn.

The night occurs 37 times, the time of waiting and the appearance of the Beautiful Lady. We see that at night the author is waiting for news from a beautiful lady, phrases are telling us about this: by night they were waiting for news, I went out at night, spent all night at the walls, circled all night, he would be at night — a sickle, he left, disappeared into the night.

The day occurs 15 times as a transition period between morning and evening, the moments of the appearance of the Beautiful Lady: every day I come from far away, there will be a day, like a moment of fun, you walked in the daylight, and everyone is afraid to meet the day without feeling the night of approach, a clear day dies away, the days-outbursts of frenzy faded, there will be a day — and the great will be accomplished.

In poems you can notice both linear and cyclical perception of time. It is no coincidence that the lyrical hero uses the word «circle» to mean time. In J. Tresidder's «Dictionary of Symbols», the circle means totality, perfection, unity, eternity — a symbol of completeness, completeness, which can embody the idea of both constancy and dynamism. Since the circle is a figure without a clear beginning and end, this is the most important and universal of all geometric forms in mystical teachings. Thus, in A. Blok's view, time is continuously repeating cycles-circles: day — night, winter — summer, life — death [6]. For example:

do you go into scarlet dusk,
into endless circles,
do you close, flame, endless circles?
You are lonely — in the distance,
close the last circles...

But I believe you will come up and the scarlet dusk will break out,

Closing a secret circle,
in belated movements.

All locations of the Beautiful Lady are endowed with positive and negative characteristics, respectively (sadness and joy, winter and spring, dusk and light, etc.). But the meeting of the lyrical hero with her takes place on the border between close and alien, closeness and distance, here and there, at a crossroads, bringing together and at the same time distancing different planes of being.

Spring. as the time of year. also carries a certain semiotic burden in the Bloc. It is mentioned in the cycle 28 times:

the wind brought from afar,
songs of the spring hint;

for the spring holiday of light,
I call my native shadow, come,
do not wait for the dawn,
bring the day with you;

I hear the bell,
in the spring field,
you opened the cheerful windows.

Other seasons are less significant in the space-time continuum of Blok in the considered cycle of poems. Accordingly. they are used much less frequently. for example. autumn 5 times: autumn day, autumn, pale autumn color.

Winter is mentioned 15 times: you sleep in a blanket of snow. an echo in cold snows. winter has crept imperceptibly. winter will come — you will see. in the twilight of a winter day. cold snowstorms.

The absence of the Beautiful Lady symbolizes cold. permafrost:
the countries are cold, dumb,
without love, and without spring;

a spring day was replaced by darkness;
a heart dominated over the grave;

and slowly went crazy,
I thought coldly of sweet;
on a cold day, on an autumn day,
I will return there again,
remember this spring sigh,
see the past image.

For Blok. these temporal characteristics are associated with a special — borderline — state of mind in which it becomes possible to see the Beautiful Lady. This is a state of sleep-drowsiness or drowsiness. a state of absorption in Dreams («I heed the call of a troubled life». «I remember the hour of a deaf. sleepless night». «The month is red. white at night». «Someone whispers and laughs». and other verses) that make it possible to achieve vision and providence. The dream is mentioned in the poems of the cycle many times (56 times). each time acting as a way to see your beloved:

«gifted and see dreams»,
«she will leave... like a fleeting dream,»
«into the arms of azure dreams»,
«a sacred dream to the elect of the worlds»,
«Yes, and I do not return these golden dreams».

The lyrical hero is. as it were. between the visible and the invisible. the revealed secret. the obvious and the secret. the real and the unreal. Special visual effects are also associated with this. meeting with the Beautiful Lady: it is often accompanied by a fog that separates the hero from his Beloved. while the fog remains the border of mobile and transparent. The fog is described in poems many times (27) and appears as a sign of communication with the other world. where the Beautiful Lady comes from. it is like a harbinger of its appearance. It appears in the fog and disappears in it: the evening was foggy. the shadows lay softly. the night flowed through the fog of dreams. before you... the fog rises. but your light shines and suddenly disappeared — into the distant fogs. you passed through the blue ways. behind you the fog was swirling.

Thus. as a result of the study. we came to the conclusion that for the cycle of poems it is characteristic to realize space and time through the prism of the experience accumulated by the lyrical hero. the expectation of the Beautiful Lady. Her appearance takes place unchanged in a dream or in fog as the boundaries between two worlds. The time of the appearance of the Beautiful Lady is also not accidental: it is associated with the seasons. in particular. with the spring. endowed with positive associations. Her absence occurs in the cold season. in winter. when the lyrical hero plunges into darkness and cold. In addition to dividing into seasons. a meeting with the muse takes place at a strictly defined time of the day (evening. twilight). Night and day are the waiting times for Her to appear. You can also notice that the muse is a poet only at a distance, it is high, above meadows and mountains, closer to the sky, or there is an obstacle in the form of landscape objects or other objects between the lyrical heroes.



  1. Halperin, I.R. (2007). Tekst kak obiekt linhvisticheskoho issledovaniia [Text as an object of linguistic research]. Moscow: URSS [in Russian].
  2. Bakhtin, M.M. (1975). Formy vremeni i khronotopa v romane: ocherki po istoricheskoi poetike [Forms of time and chronotope in the novel: essays on historical poetics]. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura [in Russian].
  3. Toporov, V.N. (1983). Prostranstvo i tekst [Space and text]. Moscow: Nauka [in Russian].
  4. Blok, A. (1960). Sbornik proizvedenii [Collected Works]. Moscow: Hosudarstvennyi dom pechati [in Russian].
  5. Likhachev, D.S. (1971). Poetika drevnerusskoi literatury [Poetics of Old Russian Literature]. Moscow: Nauka [in Russian].
  6. Tressider, D. (2001). Slovar simvolov [Dictionary of Symbols]. Moscow: FAIR-PRESS. gumer.info. Retrieved from https://www.gumer.info/bibliotek_Buks/Culture/JekTresidder/ [in Russian].
  7. Temirbolat, A.B. (2012). Katehoriia khronotopa v svete sovremennykh nauchnykh kontseptsii literaturovedeniia [Category of a chronotope in the light of modern scientific concepts of literary criticism]. Proceedings from Philology in Russia and abroad: Mezhdunarodnaia nauchaia konferentsiia (fevral 2012 h.) — Internationa Scientific Conference (pp. 6–9). Saint Petersburg: Renome [in Russian].

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