Research Group The Future of Russian

From Typo to Hype. Linguistic Imperfection in Russian Literary Blogs

Ellen Rutten, postdoctoral fellow

In From Typo to Hype, I explore a popular genre within the lively literary "RuNet": the weblog. I am intrigued by two questions: first, why are Russia's widest-read literary blogs consistently marked by stylistic and linguistic laconism? Rather than a result of authorial sloppiness, I purport that their apparent imperfection is in fact meticulously constructed. Blog writers enact an 'imagined amateurism' - one that joins an international trend, in which technological perfection sparks an artistic thirst for imperfection. The fact that the linguistic laconism of blogs joins a popular trend incites a second, more institutionally motivated question: is the blogger's desire for imperfection strictly esthetically motivated? I propose that Russian bloggers who join this trend also benefit from pragmatic advantages: a well-crafted laconic language visibly enhances their success. This socio-economic factor is especially poignant in post-Soviet society, where writers' social prestige has dwindled considerably and old economic certainties disappeared. Juxtaposing three literary blogs — by polumrak (real name unknown), snorapp (Linor Goralik) and tanyant (Tat'iana Tolstaia) — this project seeks, first, to scrutinize the rarely studied nexus between digital perfection and esthetic imprecision; and second, it highlights the link between literary language and the new socio-economic reality with which perestroika confronted authors.