2006 | 63 | 171-180
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Who Rules History? Between 'The Master and Margarita' by M. Bulgakov and 'Temptation' by V. Havel

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'The Master and Margarita' by M. Bulgakov and 'Temptation' by V. Havel, topically linked by the Faustian motif, belong, at the same time, to a broad literary current of opposition against totalitarian reality. With the aid of various means of artistic expression and also in slightly different social contexts, both works make an effort to restore belief in human autonomy and power of imagination. Their central axiological category is a human being as a moral individual, gifted with the capacity to choose and the power to create his/her own reality. It is these very aspects that cause that both works assume a new significance in the context of the post–Cold War era, in which postmodernism, at least in the western world, becomes the dominant cultural formation, whereas the most widespread mood is uncertainty and the feeling of disorientation. The appearance - in the last decade of the 20th century - of several important politological concepts, extended between Fukuyama, and in fact, a modified Hegelian optimistic finalism of the philosophy of history and the Huntington's pessimistic, cultural and civilizational pluralism, brought back importance to an old question of Kant about the sense of history, making it, almost from day to day, one of the most striking intellectual challenges of the contemporary humanities. The discussion was joined by various factions of postmodernist school - with characteristic of its ahistorism and disbelief in a progressive or in any sense moral nature of human history. The writings of Bulgakov and Havel do not provide, as befits great literature, confined projects on the philosophy of history. They do not explain the hidden mechanisms of history, neither interpret - at least not fully - the role played in it by a human being. They only point out to dangers lurking behind the longing for utopia and attempts to subject life to certain a priori formulas. First of all, however, especially 'The Master and Margarita', boldly and vigorously draw upon different currents of the European tradition in order to demonstrate its fundamental continuity, and also, in order to strengthen the power of their own message. The humanism proclaimed by them, was deepened by the conviction about the existence of a redeeming dimension of literature.
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  • T. Nakoneczny, Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza, ul. H. Wieniawskiego 1, 61-712 Poznan, Poland
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