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The Big Soviet Encyclopedia Definition of Feuilleton

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Source: The Big Soviet Encyclopedia 1970

Feuilleton (Fr. feuilleton, from feuille - leaf, small piece of paper), an artistic-journalistic genre; it has an inherently critical, often comical, including satirical character. The general characteristics are the currency and fluidity of the subject of the message and narrative, the apparent "planlessness,” lightness, unpretentiousness of composition, the parodic use of artistic and supra-artistic genres and styles. The uniqueness of the feuilleton lies mainly in that it belongs to a mixed artistic-journalistic style by virtue of [its] methods for processing facts, its treatment of facts, and its goal. The contour of the genre, its content and function historically have been fluid.

The birth of the feuilleton dates to January 28, 1800, when the Parisian newspaper Journal des Debats for the first time inserted an additional sheet (feuilleton), on which they began to publish announcements, theater and music reviews, reports on fashions, charades, in short, non political, unofficial material. More precisely, it was the birth of a heading, not a genre. With increasing size of the newspaper, the feuilleton came to be called "the basement." Under the heading “Feuilleton” were printed even novels (Mysteries of Paris by E. Su, The Three Musketeers by A. Dumas), giving rise to the "Roman-Feuilleton" centered on the tastes of a mass readership. Articles under the heading “Feuilleton” violated official seriousness, the stereotyped and abstract governmental style, although they often gravitated to slick character study.

The origin of the feuilleton, which is permeated with social and political motives, dates to the journalism of the French Revolution (the pamphlets and stories of C. Desmoulins, Lustalo, Jean-Paul Marat). The development of the genre of the political feuilleton in the West in the 19th century is associated with the names L. Berne, G. Heine, W. A. Rochefort, H. Weerth, and Feuilleton Freiligrat.

In Russia, the very name ‘feuilletonist’ has long carried a pejorative connotation, perceived as a synonym for the dirty tricks of a newspaper hack. The category Feuilleton russified in the 1820s in the journal Northern Bee’s Feuilleton of V. Bulgarin, whose feuilletons had an emphasis on security and detective theme. The feuilletons of Baron Brambeus (O.I. Senkovsky) in the journal Library for Reading ridiculed mediocrity and vulgarity in literature, while at the same time, often they themselves were characterized by artistic conservatism and lack of integrity.

The best examples of the feuilletonistic literature of the first half of the 19th century are represented by the satirically sharp, literary-critical articles of A.A. Bestuzhev and the resplendent, impeccable taste and phrasing of articles by A. Pushkin (under the pseudonym Feofilakt Kosichkin).

In the mid-19 century, a landmark event in the evolution of the genre was the appearance of the natural school of the feuilleton writers V.G. Belinsky, N.A. Dobrolyubov, N.A Nekrasov, I.I. Panayev, and M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin (who assimilated the experience of the satirical magazines at the end of the 18th century by N.I. Novikov and I.A. Krylov); fed on facts from the literature and periodicals, they led to profound socio-political syntheses, at the same time exposing the specific perpetrators of abuses and crimes. The political feuilleton became one of the leading genres of the democratic journals of the second half of the 19th century (e.g., Spark, Whistle, Alarm Clock), where were published D.D. Minaev, N.C. Kurochkin, G.I. Uspensky, and others. The development of the Russian-style feuilleton was influenced by Saltykov-Shchedrin and Alexander Herzen (notes and pamphlets in The Bell). In the revolutionary-democratic tradition of journalism, M. Gorky waged ‘political feuilleton' from 1895-96 in the pages of the newspaper Samara Gazette (under the pseudonym Jegudiel Chlamyda). Political sharpness and clarity of ideas marked the feuilletons of the critic–Marxists B. V. Vorovskoj and M.S. Olminskoj (in the second decade of the 1900s).

The prominent feuilletonists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries included: A.A. Yablonovskii, A.R. Kugel, A.V. Amphitheater and especially V.M. Doroshevich, who tinted the feuilleton style close to humoristic story, with a topical journalistic sound. Essential for the development of the Russian feuilleton was the creativity of employees of Satyricon and New Satyricon – A.T. Averchenko, N. A. Teffi, and Sasha Cherny. In the New Satyricon, the feuilletonistic poems of V. Mayakovsky (Ode to the Judge, Ode to the Bribe, and others) were published, who, together with D. Bednyi played a major role in the formation of the Soviet Feuilleton.

The Soviet Feuilleton of the 20s and early 30s developed the best traditions of cutting-edge Russian journalistic literature (Y.K. Olesha, M.A. Bulgakov, M. Zoshchenko, V.P. Kataev, I. Ilf and E. Petrov, A. Zorich, O. Vishnya, J. Sudrabkali). In the 30's, the problem-journalistic feuilleton of M.E. Koltsov evolved. In the 40-50-ies, the names of the feuilletonists G. E. Ryklin, L. S. Lentsch, D.I. Zaslavsky, S.D. Narinyani, and S.I. Oleynik gained wide popularity. In the 60-70ss, the feuilletons of N.I. Ilyina, L.A. Likhodeev, I.M. Shatunovskij stood out; roman-feuilletons appeared.

A peculiar variation appeared (starting in the 1920s): the accusatory-biased feuilleton on international political issues (Mayakovsky, Zaslavsky, J. Galan).

Having become the property of the pre-revolutionary Bolshevik press (the newspaper Pravda), the feuilleton remains an alive and relevant genre of the Soviet printing press.

References: Feuilleton. Saturday Stories, Leningrad, 1927; Feuilletons of the Forties, M. - L., 1930; Zaslavsky D., The Origins and Journey of the Feuilleton. Moscow, 1931; Zaslavsky D., Feuilleton, in the collection: Journalistic Genres, Moscow, 1955; The Russian Feuilleton, Moscow, 1958, The Soviet lampoon, Moscow, 1959; Koltsov M.E., The Writer in the Newspaper, Moscow, 1961; Zhurbina E.I., Theory and Practice of the Artistic-Journalistic Genres, Moscow, 1969.