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Death of a Prototype

Death of a Prototype

The Portrait

By Victor Beilis, Translated by Leo Shtutin

Death of a Prototype’s plot focuses on the artistic endeavours of a group of Muscovite intellectuals and unfolds against a backdrop of serious and jocular conversations, distorted-mirror parodies and riddles. The male protagonists— predominantly writers and visual artists—expend their creative energies in fashioning an authentic portrait of Adele, the ever-metamorphosing “prototype” of the title. However, they are themselves forever changing and morphing into other characters. Likewise, the stories they tell—and the pictures they paint—are never the same.

Paperback, 240 Pages

ISBN:9781783086726

April 2017

£10.99, $18.95

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About This Book

“Death of a Prototype” is the first work by Victor Beilis to make it into English since the single-volume publication in 2002 of a duo of novellas—“The Rehabilitation of Freud & Bakhtin and Others”( translated by Richard Grose). Much like the novellas that preceded it, “Death of a Prototype” is a hyper-allusive and self-consciously ‘difficult’ work: Beilis delights in intertextual play, inviting the reader to unravel a complex web of quotations, references and paraphrases. The author engages closely with an entire spectrum of Russian and European cultural traditions, from classical antiquity to twentieth-century postmodernism. The visual arts unsurprisingly play a particularly important role in the novel. So, too, is visuality in general: seeing and being seen, acts of perception and observation, gazing, glancing and glimpsing. The reader is confronted with an intimidating array of literary styles, all jostling against one another. Alongside several dialogue-heavy chapters—not all that different stylistically from much contemporary fiction—readers encounter poetic, archaicized prose, self-referential literary analysis, Joycean stream of consciousness, among others. 

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Author Information

Victor Beilis is a scholar of African folklore and author of numerous short stories and one novel.

Leo Shtutin is a translator of literary fiction from Russian. 

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