Consumerism, Simulation and the Post-Soviet Russian Identity in the Works of Viktor Pelevin
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis examines the applicability of the postmodern theories of consumerism and simulacra to the post-Soviet Russian context by undertaking a case study of Viktor Pelevin's novel Generation "Π". In today's environment of economic globalisation and its accompanying global culture, Western theories concerning the postmodern condition have attempted to explain social dynamics in regions outside of their native context. This thesis seeks to contribute to the debate regarding the global applicability of the postmodem theoretical models by applying the perspectives of Fredric Jameson and Jean Baudrillard to post-Soviet Russian cultural material. Such an analysis will help offer an indication as to whether Russia is merely a regional variant of a larger Western-oriented social paradigm, or a society and culture seeking to follow its own distinctive path of development. Generation "Π" portrays Russia in terms of its post-Soviet experiences of globalisation and media simulation. This novel engages the theories of the postmodern and their application into the post-Soviet Russian context and offers an effective depiction of Russian culture in terms of its similarities and differences to the West. In addition, Pelevin's disenchantment with the cultural dominants within post-Soviet Russia and global culture in general are strongly expressed. This thesis argues that while Pelevin's engagement with, the totality of post-Soviet consumerism and media simulation supports the applicability of many of the discussed theoretical concepts to the post-Soviet context, his work also highlights the distinctiveness of the postmodern cultural condition in Russia. This distinctiveness is not only a result of Russia's transition to the market economy but also stems from Russia's literary quest for an organic culture.