Perestroika and Power Constellations In Arno Jundze’s Novel “Red Quicksilver”

Proceedings of The 6th International Academic Conference on Humanities and Social Sciences

Year: 2021


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Perestroika and Power Constellations In Arno Jundze’s Novel “Red Quicksilver”

Maija Burima



On December 25, 1991, a country named the USSR disappeared from the world map., a country named the USSR disappeared from the world map. The USSR was not prepared for the processes of perestroika – the explosion of nationalism, centrifugal tendencies in culture, national demands; therefore, it reacted spontaneously, adhering to the longstanding methods that facilitated the collapse of the USSR. While carrying out the analysis of perestroika as a Soviet project, several perspectives have been noticed. The collapse of the political and economic regime initially captivated many former Soviet citizens, but later it acquired a range of destructive side effects: free market in its most primitive manifestations, development of criminal structures, emergence of financial pyramids, money devaluation, integration of Cheka agents into the politics of restored independent states, Soviet military heritage in degraded forms. At the same time, a process of transformation of the multinational political structure occurred, the consequences of which are still associated with polarized public opinion or nostalgic or oriental optics.

Latvian writer Arno Jundze’s novel “Sarkanais dzīvsudrabs” (“Red Quicksilver”, 2017) focuses on the political and economic practices of perestroika and the last decade of the 20th century that are related to Latvia’s society during the transition from Soviet to post-Soviet society. By using extensive variety of realities of perestroika and the following decade, Jundze draws parallels and shows the interfaces between the constellations of official power and illegitimate forces, as well as their representation. This paper is focused on the close reading of Jundze’s Novel “Red Quicksilver”, the term ‘perestroika’ denoting that period because it is established and recognizable in different languages and the language of various social segments creating associations not only with a precise period of change, but also with the emotional background typical of that time, the deconstruction of Soviet system and identification construct “homo sovieticus”.

keywords: prolonged perestroika; liminal status; Soviet power; Latvian National Awakening.