"That's not the only reason we love him": Queer politics and Chaikovsky reception in post-Soviet Russia
Communication de Philip R. Bullock, résident de l'IEA de Paris, à propos de son ouvrage Pyotr Tchaikovsky (Londres, Reaktion Books, 2016).
My talk will explore questions surrounding the writing and reception of Tchaikovsky's biography in Russia, especially in the light of the 2013 legislation outlawing the propaganda of so-called 'non-traditional' sexualities. Drawing on a wide range of published and internet sources, I will examine tensions that exist between documentary approaches to the composer's life on the one hand, and popular responses that have frequently resisted scholarly narratives on the other. Since 1991, a substantial body of archival documents have appeared in print, including unexpurgated editions of many of his letters and diaries, yet many people have decried this process, and others still have attempted to disprove their contents, or denounce them as forgeries. Much of this discussion takes place in blogs, websites and internet postings and is confined to a vocal subsection of private citizens. Yet their views often intersect with an official political discourse that is also often virulently homophobic in term. Thus, analysis of the popular reception of Tchaikovsky's biography allows us to ask whether the Russian internet represents a site of resistance to official politics, or whether it can also magnify an officially legitimated homophobia. It also allows us to examine how the biographies of Russia's queer figures are not just objects of scholarly inquiry, but can also play a part in the creation of powerful emotional, affective and aesthetic narratives that can contribute to the cause of equal rights, even at a time of official disapproval.