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The existential drinker$
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Steven Earnshaw

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780719099618

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719099618.001.0001

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Venedikt Yerofeev, Moscow–Petushki (1970): self and others

Venedikt Yerofeev, Moscow–Petushki (1970): self and others

(p.176) 9 Venedikt Yerofeev, Moscow–Petushki (1970): self and others
The existential drinker

Steven Earnshaw

Manchester University Press

In Venedikt Yerofeev’s Moscow Stations the character Venichka, a version of the author, takes an increasingly surreal train ride towards Petushki, a town at the end of a Moscow line which he believes to be like paradise. Unlike other drinker novels where the committed central drinker’s behaviour is regarded as outside social norms, Venichka is surrounded by like-minded Russian souls who also drink continuously. One of the central conceits of the novel explored in this chapter is thus the role of Venichka as a Russian everyman who is simultaneously alienated from the State, and paradoxically also from the people – drinking is his chosen vocation rather than a means of dulling self-medication. Venichka’s alienation is manifest in his ongoing argument with God, Russia and Fate. The chapter assesses how the novel refuses to privilege rationality, philosophy or empiricism in its determination to fully exist in a country/world which lacks any kind of coherence, and offers a comparison between this novel and Exley’s A Fan’s Notes in their treatment of the individual, drink, and the Nation State.

Keywords:   Venedkit Yerofeev, Moscow Stations, writer-drinker, Russian literature, Russian state, alienation, God

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